Armadillo & Co is no ordinary rug company. They are not only focused on creating beautiful products, but also ensuring that each rug they create supports their company and personal ethos. Their handcrafted rugs utilize traditional weaving techniques that are built to withstand the test of time. These rugs not only keep your home warm, but
behind under each rug is a story—a story about the local craftsmen that have been weaving for generations and the children that benefit from Fair Trade practices. We recently chatted with Jodie Fried, one of the co-founders, to learn more about how she combined a passion for design with social purpose to create Armadillo & Co.
Tell us a little more about yourself and who you are.
I am the Creative Director of Armadillo & Co and I live in Venice, Los Angeles with my husband and my three young children. I grew up in Australia and have a background as a theatre/film designer before I embarked on starting my first homewares business after living and working in India for 3 years. I fell in love with India, its people and the incredible traditional craftsmanship.
I later met Sally Pottharst (co-founder of Armadillo & Co) in 2009 and we were inspired to create elegant, simple and quality rugs that we could not find for our own homes. What we couldn’t find, we decided to make.
We wanted to combine aesthetics with ethics and have a clear focus on social responsibility.
We’d love for your to elaborate on Armadillo & Co’s ethos.
Authentic, Ethical, Sustainable, Resourceful, Progressive. Other words: textural, earthy, honest.
Our products are meticulously made 100% by the hand of our artisan weavers and produced to the highest ethical standards. Every piece embraces Fair Trade practices, is crafted from sustainable natural fibers including pure wool, cotton and hemp, and all purchases benefit the local schools in our weavers’ villages.
What is the most important thing that we should know about Armadillo & Co, in addition to its ethos?
Armadillo & Co has always been conscious that we remain strongly connected to our vision and mission, which is for our rugs to lie lightly on this earth.
We promote ethical consumerism and work towards crafting beautiful products with the help of our incredible artisans. There is no child labor is used in any of our rug making, we collaborate with various organizations against illegal child labor to ensure Fair Trade Practices are met.
Our newest addition to the Marle range, Origami is inspired by original paper artworks created by the children of The Anganwadi Project, which I founded in 2005. 5% of the proceeds from all Origami sales will be donated to The Anganwadi Project, a non-for-profit organization that builds simple, safe and sustainable learning spaces for children in the urban slums of India.
It is important to us that we support these artisan traditions and provide our weavers with a sustainable income. We encouragingly support their agrarian lifestyle and in addition to TAP, the company also funds a primary school in Uttar Pradesh, in the community where most of Armadillo&Co’s weavers reside.
How do you source the local artisans that make your rugs?
We work in areas which are known “carpet belts” in rural India. These belts are made up of villages of generations of weavers and farmers. We have a team who is based in India and are responsible for looking after our production, the artisans and their well-being and working conditions.
As production grows, we find more artisans through our current weaver’s extended family and nearby villages. Each village is known for their specific types of knotting—it all depends on if we are finding the weavers for our designs, as sometimes we work back and discover the weavers and then design around what their particular weave is. It is a very organic process and we like to work closely with the artisans as well as their particular craft.
How are the rugs made?
The construction of the rugs is very simple and we embrace traditional weaving techniques, yet we have applied a clever use of dexterity within the warp and weft to create beautiful patterns. Although the technique is simple, the execution is not, which is what we have focused on making our product known for our quality, attention to detail and making the most of a clean and sophisticated look.
Each range has such different beginnings. We start with a lot of research and development, starting with yarn weights, styles, then moving onto color, and texture, then size and design placement.
The whole process can take anything from a year to two and half years from idea to product launch. Not only do we take time to design, but we also road test it in our own homes for at least a year before releasing it on the market. We need to be 100% confident that it not only looks good, but also the stands up to wear and tear.
What inspired your latest collection?
We wanted to bring a modern influence to some of Africa and Morocco’s classic patterns. Our brand co-founder, Sally grew up in South Africa, and together our interest in traditional designs, the Latitude collection was a natural progression for us.
If you had to choose, which rug is your favorite?
Sally and I both love the Kalahari range. The juxtaposing and pairing of the thick wool and the sturdy hemp makes this rug a textural masterpiece. Creating a product that marries these natural fibers has resulted in a rug that awakes the senses and adds a handcrafted differing texture to any space.
What do you have planned for the future?
We have grown extremely quickly over the last eight years, but Sally and I always made sure that we never got ahead of ourselves. Although at times we felt like we were running, we made sure we had sure footing and stepped carefully.
We have some exciting new products in the works that are very different from anything you would have seen from us. We stay committed to our brand ethos and hope to inspire and encourage others to not only express their creativity, take a leap, but also respect and value the communities that make these dreams possible.
See more of how the rug goes from start to finish below.