How did you get into the rug business? I'd been working with textiles all my life—when I was a child, my mother and my grandmother would teach me stitches. In 1976 I was in the Peace Corps in Fiji, and I came up with a project to develop traditional industries to produce items, including textiles, for a high-end customer.
Why did you launch your own company? When I started to work with the carpet industry in Nepal, I realized you need a certain kind of sensitivity. Finally I thought, 'Not only could I do this myself, I have to do this myself, because they're just not getting it and I am.'
What's been the hardest thing? Putting together the financial structure. It was the part I knew and cared the least about; no bank would help me. I developed my own alternative bank, borrowing small amounts from people who believed in me. I was able to pay them back in four years, and by that time I was bankable.
Declutter your life! Our March issue features a complete guide to streamlining your life, from Peter Walsh's 30-Day Organization Challenge to innovative ways to clear your mind. Plus, go behind the scenes of Oprah's yard sale and find out how you can improve the world with a simple "hello."