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Four More Rug companies Team with RugMark to End Child Labor

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Four rug companies from the U.S. and Canada recently teamed with RugMark to collectively put an end to exploitive child labor in the handmade rug industry. The Nought Collective, notNeutral, Creative Matters and Rug Art are now licensees of RugMark, an independent inspection and monitoring program that confirms rugs are manufactured without the use of child labor and provides educational opportunities for children in India and Nepal. Donna Hastings and Carol Sebert of Creative Matters provide Nepalese hand knotted wool, nettle and silk carpets to clients as diverse as the Canadian Embassy in Paris to a chic nightclub in Tokyo. Hastings’ and Sebert’s love of carpets, they explain, has to do with their beauty and their character, which, in part, comes from the people who make them. The women say their customers care about rug weavers as well. “We get asked a lot if the rugs are made by children,” explains Hastings. “It’s nice to say we’re with RugMark. It gives our clients confidence in our work.” Rug Art’s Vidal and Sigal Sasson were deeply touched on a recent visit to one of the RugMark schools in Nepal. They were impressed with the educational opportunities RugMark offered to children there and says Sigal Sasson explaining their recent decision to join with RugMark, “Once we saw those kids, we just looked at their faces and then at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it.!’ ” Rug Art’s “green” hand-knotted or hand-tufted rugs are inspired by nature as seen in their Botanic series and by their passion for architecture evident in their Textura collection. According to notNeutral’s CEO, Julie Smith, creating children’s rugs, a one year-old project, was a natural addition to their home décor and kids’ divisions. Since most modern design rugs focus on an adult market, notNeutral took on the challenge of creating kids’ rugs, says Smith, “that are neither cutesy nor character-driven.” notNeutral has worked with children’s products for years and concern for children’s well-being was a given, says Smith, “so we wouldn’t have even started making rugs without RugMark! She also pointed out that as a small company notNeutral didn’t have the oversight that large companies do so, she explained, “For us, an organization like Rugmark is the best assurance that a rug is child-labor-free.” The Nought Collective’s Tracey Sawyer and her team of four designers create their custom, hand-knotted Nepalese rugs using a monochromatic palette of four colors for their pure silk, and blends of wool and cashmere rugs. Sawyer decided that working with Rugmark was the best way to be sure the rugs would be child- labor-free. “We also wanted to be part of something tangible like the school programs. RugMark isn’t just about monitoring, it is about education!” And “yes”, Sawyer knows that being a part of RugMark is an effective marketing tool, but she says her decision wasn’t driven by business. “That’s an added bonus”, she says but “the important thing is simply, giving back.” RugMark’s new members acknowledge that consumers are increasingly using their purchasing power to demand child-labor-free products and that many of those consumers are turning to the RugMark label for proof that there was no exploitation of children involved. According to RugMark’s U.S. head, Nina Smith, it is companies such as these that are making it possible for RugMark to reach the goal of certifying that at least 15 percent of all handmade rugs are child-labor-free. “That’s the estimated tipping point to end child labor on an industry wide basis, but we are only successful when the rug industry commits to responsible production practices.” All four of RugMark’s new partners say they are proud to lend their weight to a movement to eliminate child labor in their industry. About RugMark: RugMark is an international nonprofit organization working to end exploitative child labor in the carpet industry and give educational opportunities to children in India, Nepal and Pakistan. The RugMark label offers the best assurance that no illegal child labor was used in the manufacture of a carpet or rug. A list of importers and retailers that sell RugMark certified rugs is available at www.RugMark.org

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