‘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 (http://www.goodweave.org/about/child_labor_free_rugs) 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.
CEO & Design Director