Founder of Nodi Rugs Olivia Moon talks to Rahul Bhattarai about her business, and the inspiration behind starting it.
What does your business do?
Nodi makes natural, handmade rugs for residential and commercial purposes. We are a licensed Good Weave business - meaning each rug made comes with a numbered sticker that approves each rug as being made in fair conditions where the weavers are treated fairly.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I have always been passionate about textile design since I was a child. My grandmother did cross stitch and quilting and things were always being made around me. So I was always fascinated by textile design.
I experienced the emotional impact a rug has on people when introduced into a space – how a rug can provide warmth and texture, but also create an anchor in the room where people can gather, connect, play and relax.
I was also determined to use only natural fibres, which I have a deep affinity for, and as most people are unaware that nylon and polyester are in fact plastic, and the rug world is dominated by these man-made, toxic fibres that pollute the environment and have a negative impact on human's health. It was after a stint living in India exploring rug factories that made rugs by hand using natural fibres that I decided to put this knowledge to use and start Nodi.
What's your background?
I studied textile design at IED (Institute of European Design) in Milan, I then sold rugs and furniture in Sydney to designers and followed that with six months living in India.
In India I was spending my time in rug factories, using my knowledge of textiles from university as a base. I spent much of my time learning and observing from the many different craftspeople and artisans to really understand what went into making a natural rug, by hand, from raw fibre through to the finished product. This was really the beginning of Nodi.
How big is the team today?
On the ground in NZ, we have a team of 10, around the world we have an additional seven.
How was your business affected by Covid-19?
We have been affected both positively and negatively by Covid-19. On a positive note - with people spending more time in their homes with lockdowns around the world it has turned people's focus to their spaces and thinking of ways to make these spaces cosier, safe and nurturing.
The same has applied to workspaces as people slowly return to working in offices, employers have seen the need to make these spaces more human-centric and are consciously choosing natural products for their offices in an effort to make the spaces attractive for employees to want to work from.
On a less positive note, with our rugs being handmade in India who have had a challenging time fighting Covid-19. This has meant there have been some delays with manufacturing and this, paired with global freight challenges, have affected the business.
Since we aren't an essential service, we've had to stop the shipment of our rugs. And because our rugs are heavy and big, we need at least a couple of people to ship it to people's homes. So in level 4, we've had to stop our deliveries, but we do have a lot of back orders.
How long has your business been around?
We turn 7 in November this year.
What's your focus for the remainder of the year?
We are focusing on growing the brand and business both locally and offshore through select channels. We recently launched a pure wool commercial range of rugs to the trade market, so this remains a focus for us to continue growing this.
What are your long-term plans, and where do you see the brand in five years?
We currently sell locally, in Australia and in North America - and have a strong focus on growing these markets.
How does your business stand out in comparison to other businesses in the market?
Our products are unique and authentic - this is because we design and develop all of our products ourselves, we use hand spun yarn creating unique textures and offer a highly curated range where the thinking has been done which minimises the pain points in selecting a suitable rug.
How are you marketing it?
We work with photographers and stylists to create campaigns regularly, partner with interior designers and architects to feature noteworthy projects, have an in-home sampling and in-home consult programme.
What does the competition look like in this market?
There are a handful of rug companies locally, however, only a few who only make natural, handmade rugs. Many offer both synthetic and natural rugs.
What advice do you give to people wanting to start a business?
Listen to your gut, it never fails and get experts around you for areas where you aren't an expert - you can't afford not to.