Rugs Oriental offers practical art

Opening your own business can be a risky undertaking at the best of times, but Diana Quin wasn’t going to let the added pressure of Hurricane Ivan pull the rug out from under her new venture.

The 20-year island resident was poised to launch Rugs Oriental in Galleria Plaza in early October when the hurricane hit. Fortunately, it did little damage other than shake Quin’s confidence momentarily.

‘I did wake up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘what have I done?’ It’s hard enough to open your own business without having to deal with an Ivan at the same time.’

With stock untouched by the storm, Quin set about getting the store up and running as quickly as possible. She opened Rugs Oriental in early December and is already encouraged by the response.

‘I’m very upbeat. It’s surprising the number of people who have been coming in and showing interest.’

Rugs Oriental offers a collection of fine handmade rugs from Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some are more than 60 years old while others are new pieces. There are colourful tribal rugs – known as kilems – flatweaves and hand-knotted works along with patchwork pieces and silks. They come in an array of colours and designs, some sporting intricate, ornate motifs while others feature simple, understated patterns. Prices range from $50 for small rugs up to $11,000 for the much larger sizes.

There’s also such decorative items as woven throw pillows, cushion covers and even camel bags and neckpieces.

‘It’s like a dream come true to be able to work with something that you have loved for years,’ said Quin, who has been collecting oriental rugs for about 15 years. ‘To me, they’re beautiful works of art and very practical works of art. They’re very, very durable.’

Many have a story to tell as well, the colours and designs an expression of tribal cultures over the centuries.

‘The patterns, shapes and symbols all mean something. I love colour and visually, to me, these rugs are more beautiful than a painting.’

Quin said meeting Delia Barnes, an experienced oriental rug dealer from New Zealand, convinced her to turn her long-time passion into a livelihood. ‘She has a great energy and love and passion for these rugs.’

She went into partnership with Barnes, who travels regularly to the Middle East and wholesale markets in London and Europe to buy stock. Barnes spent two and a half weeks in Cayman after the storm helping to get the venture off the ground.

Quin is confident there’s a market in Cayman for her store, noting there’s a big advantage to shopping on island.

‘If people are really interested in a rug and can’t decide, they can take it home, have a look and see if it fits.’

Quin previously worked as a physiotherapist and says opening her own business has been a welcome change of pace.

‘It’s been fantastic. I’m very lucky.’

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