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.
Our December issue features Oprah's Favorite Things—as well as your chance to win them all! You'll also find our easy holiday declutter plan, Dr. Oz's guide to sleeping better (starting tonight) and the ultimate holiday menu.