Firstly, tell us how you came to start up Abee Rugs.
Before this, I was selling rugs in Kuala Lumpur with my cousin under a different brand. After 25 years in the business and having a deep passion for rugs, I wanted to establish my own brand and also have something that I can be proud of. So I started Abee Rugs – named after my wife – on the first day of 2012.
What would you say has been most challenging for you thus far?
Introducing a new brand in the carpet industry. There are many other names in the market and I was with another brand for a long time. To switch to something totally new was a big risk. But I had faith in my experience and expertise.Thankfully, after only three years, Abee Rugs has been able to break into the market, not as a top brand but at least we have made it into the circle.
Do you think being known as the Carpet King made it easier? How do you distinguish yourself from the pack?
I think I was given the nickname due to my being in the industry for so long and my in-depth knowledge of the trade. Over the years, I have established and extended my client base which I actively keep in touch with. Marketing my products and services requires effort but even more so when maintaining a trustworthy and long-lasting relationship with existing clients. I make sure I do not forget my customers and likewise, my customers do not forget about me. I have kept in contact with customers from 20 years ago, back in the day when there were no mobile phones. Whenever an occasion arises, such as Christmas or Hari Raya, I send them custom-designed and personalised greeting cards. For me, once a customer, always a customer.
What is the business philosophy at Abee Rugs?
Our tagline is ‘The House of Persian Carpets’. All our carpets are hand-knotted, quality pieces and each one is unique. Even though machine-made carpets are easier to sell, I have made the decision to focus on Persian rugs because this is where I want to position Abee Rugs. When you buy a Persian rug, you are making a long- term investment and we at Abee Rugs are here to make sure you are happy, satisfied and assured of your purchase by providing free consultation and after-sales service. We issue a certificate with every carpet bought which allows you to change or trade it in anytime at the same price. This is possible because Persian rugs have a timeless value. My services have given me an edge over others and my customers are happy to recommend Abee Rugs to people looking to buy a Persian rug.
What is ‘in’ right now in terms of carpet trends?
In recent years, the trend is leaning towards a more sophisticated look with muted tones. The washing of the carpet is not as bright as what we are accustomed to see on Persian rugs. You need to take a closer look to make out the patterns. These rugs ‘settle’ nicely on the floor and highlight the furniture. I am constantly studying the trends by working closely with interior designers and reading design magazines to make sure Abee Rugs have the most appealing and attractive selection of Persian rugs.
People tend to think Persian carpets are one-dimensional in their looks. What do you have to say about that?
That is not true at all and it is a misconception I am trying to change. There is a perfect Persian rug for any space and occasion. No matter the style or theme, be it Oriental, posh or Scandinavian chic, I am confident that I am able to recommend a carpet that will complement the overall look of a space.
Share with us what you enjoy most about being in this business.
When customers say good things about me and my company, it is a feeling I cannot put into words. This is my passion. I love carpets and I love marketing. The more involved I am, the happier I become. I believe when you are 100% focused on what you are doing, others will follow. There may be people copying our style but I am not concerned. I know I am on the right track and I will not be relinquishing the title of ‘Carpet King’ anytime soon.