Rug Maker to the Queen celebrates 30 years in St Albans

Julian Blair and Richard Mathias outside Rug Maker.

Julian Blair and Richard Mathias outside Rug Maker. - Credit: Archant

An independent retailer that specialises in bespoke rugs and counts the Queen amongst its fans has celebrated 30 years of business in St Albans.

Julian Blair of Rug Maker in India.

Julian Blair of Rug Maker in India. - Credit: Archant

Rug Maker, based in Verulam Road, was founded by Richard Mathias and Julian Blair in 1989 and was granted an exclusive licence to make rugs depicting the Queen's image.

Richard and Julian opened the store under the name 'Oriental Rug Gallery' but rebranded their business when they adapted their operating model from importing and selling traditional Oriental carpets to focusing on bespoke pieces.

In 2009, Rug Maker approached the Royal Mail hoping to produce a 'Stamp Rug' depicting Arnold Machin's iconic picture of The Queen.

Julian, head of sales at Rug Maker, explained: "We had this idea of depicting The Queen, so we had a rug made in Kathmandu, then we took it to Royal Mail and they were furious!

A Nepalese rug being made for Rug Maker.

A Nepalese rug being made for Rug Maker. - Credit: Archant

"They said: 'this is our intellectual property, how dare you!' They kept the rug and sent me packing. Then they rang up two weeks later and said: 'Actually, we like this idea come and talk to us.'"

The Queen, who has final say in how her official image is used, personally contributed to the design insisting that Rug Maker add scalloped edges - like a real stamp.

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Rug Maker's lesser known clients include Earl Spencer, Kelly Hoppen of Dragon's Den and countless rock stars.

The company's founders say it owes its longevity to adapting to the digital age by developing its own software that allows clients to design their rug and see it in situ before they purchase it.

Richard inspecting the stamp rug.

Richard inspecting the stamp rug. - Credit: Archant

Orders are sent to their manufacturing team in Nepal, a group of 50 families and a project manager, who handmake each rug.

The software, designed by Richard Mathias, head of manufacturing, technology and development at Rug Maker, is now the industry standard program for manufacturers and is used by interior designers around the world.

Richard added: "It's always a pleasure to welcome new generations of existing clients who want to create something unique for their homes."

One of the stamp rugs.

One of the stamp rugs. - Credit: Archant