Life under quarantine gave many people time to pick up a new hobby, like bread-making or birdwatching. But one young couple in North Hollywood decided to take up rug-making. And they loved it so much that they launched a new business, selling hand-made, one-of-a-kind rugs they call Unwelcome Mats.
The owners of Unwelcome Mats consider their rugs pieces of artwork you can put on your floor.
"If you need a rug somewhere, why not have a fun unwelcome mat? Why pick a normal pattern rug when you can have something that represents you in your space? To make a rug, we start with a sketch or a drawing. Then we project the image onto the frame, trace it, and then the tough thing starts. We use cut pile guns; it has a needle that places the yarn through the fabric. It is almost like a hand-held sewing machine that is not making a complete stitch," said the co-owner of Unwelcome Mats, Ethan Cole.
Kellcy Kocinski, who co-owns Unwelcome Mats, says she looks forward to Saturdays because that is when she usually works on a bigger mat.
"We get a little upset if we have obligations on Saturday because it gets into our tufting time. A small mat might take seven hours to tuft if I am focused. Then it will take one night to show it."
When Kocinski and Cole first started rug-making, they were only making them for themselves.
"We had no intention of selling them. We wanted an Instagram to show our art. After making a few of them and having them in our apartment, our friends wanted us to sell them so other people could enjoy them. Now we do custom rugs; we have our own sort of repeat designs that we do. And, we built this community around the Unwelcome Mats brand," Cole added.
Networking with other creators has been an excellent way for Unwelcome Mats to get more publicity.
"We always post the rug when we put it on the website; that is our only form of advertising right now. We did make a rug for Original Rose, who had a little bit more of a following. I asked her if I could send her a rug, and she said, 'yes.' And she posted it, and she got us a lot of followers. Then we ended up making rugs for her website," Kocinski said.
Most of their customers are, like them, creative people in their 20s. The couple says they still freak out when customers post pictures of the rugs they designed and made.
"I want to see our rugs being loved. I want people to come home from a day at work and step on it and take their shoes off on it. I want them to be used and loved. You can hang them on the wall if you want, but I much prefer to see it at your front door," Cole said.