WOOL
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Wednesday, February 28, 2018
By Austin Rese
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Dragging my feet through a final row of vendors, I searched for an artisan who could make the area rugs for VALOR American Home. It had to be someone who created their product in the USA, produced top quality, and had an appetite for what they did. I knew it was a tall order in today’s economy, but I wasn’t going to give up. It was the last day of the 2010 spring market in High Point, North Carolina. Having run its 5-day course, the rabble of buyers, designers, and manufacturers had dissipated. Many vendor booths were deserted, leaving product to simply fend for itself.

 

Then, as I began to turn to the corner and call this particular market, “history”, my tired eyes lit upon a couple who were enthusiastically standing in their display as if it was opening day. I thought to myself, “Now this is worth stopping to see! --Anyone who is this spirited at the closing of market has to have a passion for their product.”

 

Quickly, I introduced myself to Leah and Ivan Phillips. They were giddy with excitement to share their story. I learned that Leah is the child of a floorcovering retailer of 55 years. From her crib being situated beside her mother’s desk-to-her employment with industry giants Milliken and Shaw, the map of her career’s journey was firmly drawn. You could see from the spark in her eyes that she had found her calling in life.

Leah and Ivan named their (then) 9 year-old company, “DELOS”, after the Greek island where Apollo, the God of Art, was born. The pair’s artistic blood runs deep in their veins. This, combined with their business acumen, have created a noteworthy industry brand. Their staff of nearly ten fellow artisans touch every rug that is created.  Robotic technology may provide speed and consistency, but it is the age-old technique of hand finishing that creates the priceless quality associated with their product. Over 85% of their work is still done by hand. Simply beautiful!

 

Delos took root in a down economy. In order to survive, they had to operate in a lean, quick, and effective manner. Thus, they did. They were able to hire many local skilled craftspeople who had fallen prey to unemployment. Needless-to-say, this certainly helped their hometown economy. This, combined with a dedication to the environment, (through the recycling of wool fibers and launch of Econyl 100% regenerated nylon) make them a valuable member of the industry.

 

Service, speed, and size/shape demarcate Delos from its competition. Their mainstay is custom designs and manufacture. They understand the needs of the interior design community and provide an expedient product accordingly. Their team of creative specialists is of great assistance in producing renderings for approval—all guided by the needs of their clients’ budget, styling, and delivery. Continuing to elucidate their abilities, Ivan shared that 3 of their 7 construction offerings are of US manufacture.  As the price for hand-made goods continue to increase, and as American-made custom manufacturers gain efficiency, the gap will continue to close between the costs of buying an imported custom rug versus an American-made model.

A defining moment in Delos’ career was when national retailer, Room and Board, partnered with them to create a US-made private label product via their pneumatic technology. As Room and Board is also a strong advocate of American-made home furnishings, I knew I had found a soul of like mind.

 

I could tell a challenge is not a dead end but a catalyst for these two. Their interest in tomorrow’s horizon takes precedent over today’s sunset. While wool is the back bone fiber of the luxury rug industry, they are quick to share their interest in possible alternatives. This includes the development of the alpaca industry.

 

One would assume large rugs might be a dilemma. Not the case. Over 60% of their creations are over 8’ x 10’ in size. They have the capability of producing a rug 13’6” x 60’--without a seam!!! This is amazing!

A question that I always enjoy posing to a prospective VALOR American Home family member is, “If you had your career to do over, would you choose the same path?” Without hesitation, Leah responded, “I love creating and custom, because it is floorcoverings on steroids! It is so interesting aiding and seeing our clients’ creations. It is learning and growing on a daily basis. There is seldom a dull moment!”

 

My dragging feet found new life as I descended the escalator and made my way through the parking lot back to my car.

 

VALOR American Home's family of artisans had grown again.

 

 

This was A Moment in America.


Delos celebrates over 17 years as an importer and 8 years as an US manufacturer, located in Calhoun, Georgia. Their work is proudly featured within the cache of hand-crafted offerings by VALOR American Home. Please consider adding them to your own home.

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