Five Questions: Hasan Jafri of Dover Rug & Home

Text by Robert Kiener Photography by John Soares

1. What’s it like to be a part of a family business?
Your family name is “on the door,” and that makes you raise the bar higher. There’s more at stake, and you take that much more pride in what you’re doing because you’re working on behalf of your family. A lot of the manufacturers and weavers we have overseas are family businesses, too; now their children are coming into the trade. My father has worked with their parents for many years, and I am starting to work with the next generation. And it’s true with our clients, too: the children of many of the clients my father started out with are buying or building houses, and now I’m working with them. Because what we do is so intimate, because we go into people’s homes, the business becomes much more than just a transaction. Some of our clients have become our most trusted friends—and that is one of my most favorite things about the business.

2. What are the benefits of having your own manufacturing facilities in Pakistan, India, and Nepal?
We have been going to those countries for years. It’s where a lot of our work happens—where we do our product specifications and buying for the year. We are able to sit down with the actual weavers and go over new colors, new designs, and new weaving techniques. We’re able to give our weavers direct feedback from our customers, letting them know what’s working, what isn’t, what colors we want to emphasize, that sort of thing. Because we work directly with our manufacturers, we can keep costs competitive, too.

3. What is the allure of a hand-knotted rug?
Quality. Durability. Beauty. We recognize that a hand-knotted rug is a big purchase. But I have always said that in the rug business you really get what you pay for. We have hand-knotted rugs available at all levels, from entry point to midpoint to high end. At any level, you are getting a product that is going to last. Every single knot is individually hand tied. No machines touch the rugs. There are very few things out there—even in the luxury market—that are completely and individually made by hand. When I go to our manufacturing facilities, I marvel at the labor that goes into them. These are heirlooms. The beauty of our business, what I enjoy about it, is that I am selling artwork, but it is practical artwork that you can walk on.

4. Talk about the rug or carpet as the beginning point of a design plan?
If you look at interior design from a literal standpoint, you want to start from the ground up. Beginning with the rug is so important because it sets the foundation for the room. Some people say that once they choose the rug, it helps them set the color palette. And because our rugs are individually handmade, not mass produced, you will always have a unique base upon which you can build your design. There’s a timelessness to handmade rugs, too. That said, we do see certain trends, especially in colors. Red is still classic, but lately, contemporary colors—blues, grays, neutrals—are more popular.

5. How do you plan to keep the company strong for the next generation?
We started in 1989 as a strictly hand-knotted rug business. Over the years we’ve added loomed rugs, hand-tufted rugs, broadloom carpeting. Now we’ve taken Dover Rug and turned it into Dover Rug & Home, expanding to offer flooring and window treatments. We have become a one-stop shop. We encourage people to come into the store to start the journey, but then we take it a step further. We will bring as many rugs to a customer’s house as they want so they can see them in place. The benefits are major. If you go out to buy anything from paint to furniture, what you see under the showroom lights may be very different from how it looks in your home during the day and at night. It is the convenience factor; being there for our customers is of the utmost importance to us.

Dover Rug & Home, Boston, Natick, and Burlington, Mass., doverrug.com

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