Nasia Burnet – preserving traditional rug making with Sukhi Rugs
Producing the highest quality handcrafted rugs, preserving age-old rug making traditions, and treating artisans with dignity and respect: these are the foundations on which Nasia Burnet co-founded her business and remain central to the business model as Sukhi has grown since 2012.
What inspired you to set up a business selling artisan rugs?
Sukhi was founded by me and my husband Wouter. The idea of bringing handmade carpets made with love, became a reality after a trip to Nepal. I have studied textile design in the Netherlands and that is where my passion for the use of handmade techniques was born. During our travels to Nepal we discovered that the handicraft of felt ball rugs is truly amazing and we wanted to share this with the rest of the world. We can’t wait to visit our artisans again and once we are able to travel again I would highly recommend you to visit this breathtaking paradise.
Does the word Sukhi have a meaning?
Yes! It means ”Happy” 🙂
It makes me happy that we can preserve old rug making traditions and share them with our customers all around the world. Our rugs are all handmade, custom made and unique. Through Sukhi we have been able to provide employment to almost 300 artisans in developing countries. I am very proud of that!
You started the company selling felt ball rugs from Nepal. What other countries do you source your products from?
We have two workshops in Nepal and in India, one in Turkey and one in Morocco. The wool for our Indian and Nepalese rugs come from New Zealand and in Morocco the wool comes from the local sheep. One day I’d like to expand our production, for example, to include the handcrafts from Argentina. I love the colours!
Why do you feel it is important to preserve traditional craft making techniques?
During my studies in The Netherlands, I developed a passion for the use of artisanal techniques and natural, durable materials. The countries where our handmade rugs are made are well known for their beautiful nature, but they are also famous for their techniques. They all use a unique and personal technique because it’s made by hand and learned from mother to daughter. I love the pure character of our products.
Do you only work with women artisans?
No, some of our artisans in India are men. They usually do the more labor intensive designs which require more physical strength to be made. However, in Turkey, Nepal and Morocco all our artisans are women.
What social impact do you have by working directly with the women?
We want to give artisans a voice: our company enables artisans in Nepal, India, Turkey and Morocco to earn 2-3 times the average regional pay. Makers can keep their children in school. They work from the comfort of their home. Sukhi ensures that artisans are treated fairly. At the same time, quality is never compromised. In this way, our customers can buy a beautiful rug knowing that the artisan making it is being treated and paid fairly.
You sell Berber rugs from the Beni Ouarian tribe. What makes these particular rugs special?
I love the softness of the wool, the timelessness and the pureness of the rug. Definitely my number one! The finesse of the wool results in an extraordinary softness and sustainable product. The carpet is hand-woven combined with the tribal symbols which makes it a unique piece of art. We are also the only ones selling authentic Berber rugs in a round shape.
What are the most popular rugs on your website?
Felt ball rugs such as the playful Alisha and white Shirisha seem to remain popular year after year. Our newly launched boho rugs, such as Eklavya and Hari, have became very popular in a short period of time. But with the possibility to customise the rugs, there are hundreds of options – surely everyone will find their favourite!
The women you work with in Nepal were impacted by the recent lockdown due to Covid-19. How have you been able to help these women during such a difficult period?
The virus is the hardest for the most vulnerable around us. Many artisans that live further away from our workshops are having problems with their day to day life, so we have thought of distributing relief to our lovely rug makers. We have contributed almost 2000 USD to help our artisans in the best way possible by providing them food supplies and living. We distributed relief material to our workers.
If they need any further help in the future we will think of a more sustainable way, but hopefully, the situation will get better soon. We are very grateful for the support, and orders for new rugs that we are still receiving, as this is directly creating employment for our teams.
From one of our artisans: “Namaste, my name is Maia Rai, I make carpets for our company. Firstly I would like to thank Sukhi for their help, as the whole world is battling against CoronaVirus and many people are finding it difficult to feed themselves as they have become unemployed, we have been providing Rice, Gas, Oil, and Salt. Thank you very much for everything.”
What vision do you have for Sukhi over the next 5 years?
My dream is to continue exploring new designs and handmade carpets around the world which we can share and bring to the lucky new owners.