GoodWeave in India: The tireless work to end child labor in the textile industry.



An hour or so by the side of the road on the outskirts of Bhadohi... not even a broken down car can stop Custom Cool from our hard work!!

An hour or so by the side of the road on the outskirts of Bhadohi… not even a broken down car can stop Custom Cool from our hard work!!

The carpet industry supply chain in action:  villagers throughout Bhadohi work at home weaving, carding and spinning wool.

The carpet industry supply chain in action: villagers throughout Bhadohi work in local homes and courtyards weaving, carding and spinning wool.

 A basic sign on the way to the GoodWeave villiage

A basic sign on the way to the GoodWeave villiage

The kids were thrilled to meet Liz Benincasa whose playfulness brought huge smiles to all their faces - and much laughter to all!

The kids were thrilled to meet Liz Benincasa whose playfulness brought huge smiles to all their faces – and much laughter to all!

Beautiful Children with crazy baby goats and textile designers!

Beautiful Children with crazy baby goats and textile designers!

We have spent a lot of time with manufacturers of textiles whilst here in India, however the highlight of the trip has been our visit to the GoodWeave Motivation and Learning Centre in Bhadohi, one of the poorest areas within Uttar Pradesh.  This area is where the majority of rugs that make their way to western markets are made.

The Two gentleman who accompanied us on our visit work tirelessly for GoodWeave inspecting factories & mentoring children rescued from carpet looms throughout 13 communities in this area.  Manoj Bhatt and Prasoon Shanker are our heroes now.  Their work is endless, vast and surely daunting – however child by child, home by home, village by village they work through GoodWeave to enlighten people living in poverty as to the essential importance of education for children and the most basic of human rights within the workplace.

Custom Cool with Neman Carpets, one of the first rug manufacturers to become GoodWeave certified in India - and our new heroes, Manoj  (third in from left) and Prasoon (second in from right).

Custom Cool with Neman Carpets, one of the first rug manufacturers to become GoodWeave certified in India – and our new heroes, Manoj (third in from left) and Prasoon (second in from right).

Here is an excerpt from my thank you letter to Manoj and Prasoon written just after our time with them.  There is little else I can say regarding my gratitude for their efforts and the beautiful work of GoodWeave then what follows here:

Dear Manoj and Prasoon,

There truly aren’t enough words for me to be able to express the deep gratitude I feel for the challenging and life changing work you do.  In our conversations yesterday we came to many moments of silent contemplation where we seemed to hit a wall regarding the magnitude and scope of the problems relating to labor and the supply chain within the carpet making industry of India.  I know there were several times I felt a kind of wave of defeat in terms of how much I could really do to bring about any change to the vast human exploitation at the foundation of the billion dollar carpet industry.
I can say though that the conviction and determination that you both shared with us yesterday –  your bold ideas, hard work and hands on efforts – conquer any doubt I have that these problems will not be erradicated in our lifetime.  You and GoodWeave fill me with the hope that what is right and just will in fact win the day both in India as well as Nepal and with luck through the rest of Asia as well.
The Goodweave Villiage and Motivation and Learning Center/School we visited in Bhadohi yesterday was truly inspiring!  This is clearly just the first step in helping communities overcome poverty and come to value the priceless nature of an education for their children.  The beautiful songs we heard some of the children sing, their gratitude for our visit and the sound of their laughter is something I will remember forever.  That my company can help to support this and other projects like it here in India is a profound honor and privilege for all of us at Custom Cool… 
…The work you do is the fundamental key to bringing change to the lives of the carpet workers of India.  We could pour our money and support into your country but without your hands on hard work little would come of it. Please know we will keep you in our prayers and thoughts daily.  Never get discouraged and keep forging forward.  Your work may be very very hard, and perhaps discouraging at times – but when you rescue even one child from slavery, enable just one individual to overcome their poverty through the education you bring to them – all your hard work finds its true reward.  You are blessed – and a blessing to so many.
With Love and Gratitude,
Eliza and the entire Custom Cool team
Eliza having a chat with just some of the children from the GoodWeave Motivation and Learning Centre

Eliza having a chat with just some of the children from the GoodWeave Motivation and Learning Centre

Writing a note to the Children

Writing a note to the Children

Every Child should have the basic human right to an education. GoodWeave is helping bring this right to the many children of the Indian carpet industry.

Every Child should have the basic human right to an education. GoodWeave is helping bring this right to the many children of the Indian carpet industry.

We are looking forward now to visiting our GoodWeave certified rug makers here in India –  then we are off to Nepal!  When in Katmandu we will visit more GoodWeave facilities and will share another glimpse into the lives of those GoodWeave has touched.
Were it not for the gentle and tactful work of GoodWeave many young Muslim girls in India, such as these students, would face only the prospect of child marriage without hope of an education.

Were it not for the gentle and tactful work of GoodWeave many young Muslim girls in India, such as these students, would face only the prospect of child marriage without hope of an education.

Namaskar ,
 ( “With all the depths and charms of my mind
and all the love and cordiality of my heart, the divinity
within me greets the divinity within you”)


Map of Silk Road

Map of Silk Road

Flying this morning from Hannover to Istanbul and then on to Delhi I found myself contemplating the reverse route I am travelling along the historic Silk Road.  At the foundation of the work I do is the commerce that took place so many thousands of years ago, starting in the silk rich land of China.  Winding from the far East, throughout much of Asia to Istanbul and then the wealthy West – the well worn roads that carried priceless treasure East to West have paved the way for my business, skills & passions to prosper.

Ella, my fifteen-year-old daughter, spent the last few months studying the history of trade from China into Europe.  Helping her to research what products flowed East to West was fascinating.  Even more compelling was learning about the power structures that formed and the human exploitation that resulted from this trade.  Slave labor in all its horrific forms served the insatiable hunger and vast wealth of the West and continues through much of Asia today in the many facilities that create our textile products.

I don’t know exactly how my own work and journey fit within the ongoing flow of beauty and suffering from East to West except to say that my company, Custom Cool, exists because of it.  As a designer and artist I have been able to create a growing business that has the ancient crafts of various Eastern cultures at its core.  However as a passionate advocate for human rights I can only allow my business to prosper knowing that our work is contributing to the advancement of human dignity and in no way exploiting the labor that produces what we sell.

Vast Halls full of buyers, sellers and rugs!

Vast Halls full of buyers, sellers and rugs!

My current trip East is for both my business and my purposeful intention to support the people and economies that form the groundwork of what I make.  Hannover, Germany, was a fitting place to start.  Custom Cool was a finalist in a significant international design competition hosted by Domotex which is the largest floor covering and carpet expo. In the world.  The vast halls of Domotex showcased beautiful floor covering products, with staggering varieties of woven goods on display for buyers from around the world to purchase.  The enormity of textile commerce was certainly something I hadn’t seen before in person  –  both glorious in its beauty and daunting in its scale.

GoodWeave at Domotex, 2014

GoodWeave at Domotex, 2014

I met up with Scott Welker and other GoodWeave vendors at their Domotex booth.  GoodWeave is the not for profit organization that works tirelessly to rescue children from slave labor on the carpet looms of Asia.  The GoodWeave carpet factories we have our rugs produced in work to extremely high standards that ensure both the fair and good treatment of their employees as well as high standards of manufacturing in terms of the environmental impact of rug weaving facilities. It was thrilling for me to meet committed  advocates for reform and human rights in the textile industry at the very start of my trip.

One of the things we talked about is the work GoodWeave is doing in Afghanistan to help kick- start what was a vibrant carpet making industry years ago before the ravaging war.  GoodWeave is working to train Afghan women to weave in a sustainable way which will allow companies like mine and many others from Europe and the US to create a new kind of beautiful product whilst supporting the many war widows and their children in a country where woman have few rights or opportunities.  I am very excited (and eager – to say the least!) to begin making my first Afghan rug – and with the great work of GoodWeave I may well be able to fulfill this dream in the near future.

Rugs Made in Afghanistan

Rugs Made in Afghanistan

The efforts of GoodWeave to both help the women and children of Afghanistan as well as raise  awareness of this issue within the mighty powerful rug industry was inspiring to see.  I left Hannover motivated to contribute to the efforts to support local communities whose crafts are priceless.

En route to Delhi I had a day in my favorite city in the world – Istanbul. What more fitting pit stop for me on  my journey East then to land in a city at the heart of East/West Trade – one portion of the city located in Asia, the other In Europe.  The diversity of the people waiting in the airport, heading one way or another,  was a marvel to see.  From Turban clad men to woman in full burka to jean clad Europeans to holy men wearing various styled robes and Indian woman in both business attire and sparkling sarees.  I think in my hours in the terminal I witnessed a parade of apparel that represented a good majority of the fabulous and fascinating locations along the Silk Road – from beginning to end.


Praying Hands Welcome visitors to Delhi

I am  now settled into my Delhi hotel, thoroughly exhausted but anxious for my adventure to really begin.  In the next weeks I will be meeting with a variety of makers currently producing work for us and others who may well be helping us create new products that will set Custom Cool on a firm path of growth and success.  In conjunction with this I will be visiting numerous GoodWeave facilities to see firsthand what this amazing organization is doing to support the weavers and the children of India and Nepal.  I will be writing here about all that I see and experience, sharing just some of the beauty and mystery of what transpires.  My objective is that in my reverse silk road travels I will bring just a tiny bit of healing and hope to those that have suffered as a result of  the corrupted power structures that feed our insatiable Western market.  All that I have in terms of my talents and success will be put to this task – and I am absolutely ready for the challenge to begin!

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Off to India!


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Custom Cool was given an amazing opportunity the Monday before last when we were chosen to create a massive runner for an extremely well known (we can’t say who!) fashion designer’s runway show for NY Fashion week next month.  We had a three week lead time to create over 200 linear feet of fine, GoodWeave certified, 100% NZ wool carpeting!  With such an almost impossible task ahead of us we threw ourselves into production mode and worked tirelessly to ensure that we would provide an impeccably beautiful product for such a high profile project.  
Because of the importance of this job and the extremely tight time frame we had been given I made the call that Monday to send two of our designers to India to oversee production.  After all the shots, flight booking, expedited visa applications etc. etc – not to mention lots and lots of hard work to get this design into production, we got a call mid morning on Friday that the fashion designer had changed her mind about her show and no longer wanted a rug.  Oh Boy!
A group shot before the girls take off for India!

We are now determined to produce something spectacular for this designer come the September shows.  In the meantime we are going to make a huge and tasty batch of lemonade from the lemon we have just been handed!

Jessica Modzel (Designer) and Alice Serres (Design Production) landed in Delhi today and will proceed to source some wonderful new products for us.  These young women will also be meeting the brave manufacturer (We only recently helped his company to become a GoodWeave certified rug manufacturer) who agreed to produce so much rug in such a short period of time.   They will work with him to create some samples for the runway that our fashion designer will surely fall in love with as an option for her next show.
Pictured: Jessica Modzel (Designer)
Pictured: Alice Serres (Design Production) 
The design world is certainly fickle and certainly precarious – but if any company is up for the challenges of short deadlines, exceptional quality and patient understanding it is Custom Cool.  We are so proud of what we do – and proud of our incredible team that is up for the challenge to make the virtually impossible – possible!  
Looking forward to the challenge of making our first runway rug!

Holiday Gift Guide

CC Xmas Gift Guide  Kilim Stocking  in Chevron Stripe – $85 | 20 x 20 Climbing Vine Chain Stitch Pillow in Green & Pink $325 | Eliza Bag in Red Vermicular – $800 | Montauk Daisy Candle in Light Green – $35  | Large Basket in Natural & Red  – $75 | Holiday Placemat in Chevron Stripe – $18 or 6 for $90 | Montauk Daisy Candles in Dark Green & Red – $35 each | Sheridan Bag in Green & Blue Criss Cross – $400 | 9 x 18 Pillow in Grey & Yellow Climbing Vine – $180

Call (631) 996-2900 to order or email

Happy Thanksgiving


Montauk Daisy Candle, Custom Cool | Flowers, Diane James Home | Emile Henry Pie Dish, William Sonoma | Kilim Coasters, Custom Cool | Pinecone Place Holders, William Sonoma | Pewter Gravy Boat, William Sonoma | Striped Bread Baskets, Custom Cool | Godinger Crystal Glassware, Bed Bath & Beyond | Christofle Flatware, Michael C. Fina | Kilim Placemat, Custom Cool | Raynaud Osier Dinner Plate, Scully & Scully | Embroidered Linen Napkin, Custom Cool

Christmas… in September!

Designing and manufacturing custom rugs and fabrics is the primary work we do here at Custom Cool.  However, as a design studio full of creative minds we just can’t stop dreaming up new and exciting ‘alternative’ products that showcase our unique fabrics and patterns.  Many of you know the varied items we now make – from place mats to pashminas, handbags, candles, pillows, upholstered furniture – even deck chairs! Our imaginations are rich and the desire to ‘make’ the things we conceive is strong.  Finding ethical and ‘good’ ways to produce our vision is a challenge we relish.

Entering the second year in our showroom with a growing team of more than eleven full time employees, we are keenly aware of our need for commercial success. We want to grow this exciting business and continue to support Fair Trade manufacturing in both textiles and general home/lifestyle products.  So as this last summer faded into fall, we found ourselves facing a new design challenge:  what could we make to create a commercially successful and stylish ‘Custom Cool’ Christmas?

 Holiday Starburst Artwork.

It was on a bright, 80 degree September morning that we began our Christmas/Holiday design challenge.  We gave ourselves two weeks to come up with a line of table linens, decorative accessories and gift products for the coming season. Normally design companies work on their holiday line a good 12 to 18 months ahead of time.   As a new & small company, we had less than a month to develop a full line of Christmas accessories.  If anyone is up for that challenge – we are!


       Artwork for Custom Cool Holiday hangtags.

Turning up the Christmas music and pulling out the Kilim yardage we had the foresight to have woven some six months earlier (using the greens, reds, whites and khakis of Christmas – navy & bold blue hues of Chanukah) we began brainstorming.  Though we aren’t quite finished with all of our table linens, we have produced some beautiful items.  From kilim placemats, runners, tree skirts, stockings, tree ornaments to wrapping paper sets, gift cards and great gift products. See a few pictured below.


             Holiday stockings in various patterns.


      Christmas Tree Skirt in Cross Cross with beaded fringe.


Holiday place mats in various prints.

    Holiday ornament in striped kilim.

            Artwork for our chevron printed holiday wrapping paper.

            Artwork for our holiday wrapping paper in criss cross print.

            Artwork for our  holiday wrapping paper in Ikat print.

We have had some exquisitely soft, natural and bleached linen manufactured for us in Lithuania and then printed for us in India (our first line of prints!).  Once the printing is done, the fabrics will come back here to be finished into an array of table linens embellished with some of the exquisite ribbons, beads and trims we have on hand just for this application.

    Artwork for linen holiday table runners.

Artwork for holiday linen napkin

We would love to hear from you about your thoughts on the images we’ve included here of what we are working on for Christmas and Chanukah. There is still time for adjustment! Our goal is to bring some of the bold color and sophisticated /relaxed Hampton style that Custom Cool has become known for to the holiday season.  Let us know what you think!

We hope you all enjoy a very peaceful fall – without too many thoughts or concerns about the coming holidays – apart from the aesthetic ones of course!

Eliza Gatfield

CEO & Design Director

Custom Cool

What is Beauty?


‘That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but

that which is good is always beautiful.’

– Ninon de L’Enclos

What is Beauty? A very big question for a little textile company to ask – but one that is fundamental to all we aspire to do and to create at Custom Cool.  As the founder of this company, I can attest to the fact that at the very bedrock of our work is the notion of Beauty.  Note the capitalization of this word.  The beauty we strive for in our products is not the kind you see on the surface of things but something more deep and abiding.

The quote above which states ‘that which is good is always beautiful’ is the perfect motto for what we create at Custom Cool.  So the next question must be… what is good?  I can’t pretend to have a definitive answer for this but I can tell you a little something about my beginnings in manufacturing to give you an example of the inverse of goodness.

Years ago, I lived in Southeast Asia and began what was my first textile company.  At the time, I was creating designs for nurseries and little children’s rooms (a few pictured below).

I knew little about manufacturing and wanted to spend as much time as I could at the facilities where my products were being produced.  I noticed that there were children – often as young as five or six years old – working in these facilities.  After witnessing this, I did what I could to get the manufacturers to understand that this practice of child labor is unacceptable to me and that to keep my business they needed to end this exploitation of children.  Promises were made to me, even contracts to this end were signed, and yet with each and every visit I made to the factories, I saw those small hands hard at work, those heartbreakingly sad children’s faces, and ultimately I just couldn’t continue with my business. How could I support a business that provided privileged children with goods that were made by the sweat and toil of far less privileged children?  I was striving to make beauty out of something repulsive and this is clearly an impossible equation.  Child labor is bad – child labor is ugly – the very opposite of all that is beautiful.

Many years after this failed attempt at manufacturing I discovered the good work of GoodWeave. With over 215 million children aged between 5-17 years engaged in child labor, GoodWeave has worked tirelessly to bring child labor to an end.  Hand in hand with factories, manufacturers and retailers, GoodWeave has come up with a program of rug certification ( that ensures each and every rug produced through a GoodWeave certified factory is, in fact, manufactured ethically.

Thus, GoodWeave has created an incentive for everyone to do good work.  Thanks to GoodWeave’s efforts to raise consumer awareness about the horrific practice of child labor, there is now a growing demand for child labor free certified products.  As a result, retailers are purchasing products accordingly and those who run factories are waking up to both the humanitarian and economic benefits that come through hiring only adults to work on their premises.

Having worked in partnership with GoodWeave for several years now, I, and my entire team at Custom Cool, have a deep sense of gladness in knowing that the beauty we create here goes well beyond the surface of things.  After all, this world is filled with pretty things.  Why not make more of an effort, spend more time and aspire for more ‘goodness’ in our work?  As of late we have expanded our line of Custom Cool products from rugs to all kinds of home accessories as well as our own line of upholstery fabrics, handbags, pashminas and so forth.  We are working hard to ensure that we use the good practices taught to us by GoodWeave – so that all we create here is Beautiful – in the truest sense of the word.

Eliza Gatfield

CEO & Design Director

Custom Cool

Welcome to Custom Cool

Welcome to the Custom Cool blog! Founded in June, 2008 by Eliza Gatfield, Custom Cool has made waves in the textile industry and delighted the interior design market by delivering superior quality and craftsmanship, exclusive design work and highly personalized customer care.

We just celebrated the one year anniversary of our Quogue showroom (pictured) and invite you to join us on our newest adventure — blogging!

We hope you enjoy the journey – Welcome to Custom Cool.

Our ever-changing wall of samples… We embrace color!