In Her Element: Phyllis Ripple
The creator of heirloom-quality organic and chemical-free rugs
Photo by Julia Vandenoever
Cactus, hemp, and nettle. Sounds more like a verdant field than the makings of an elegant bespoke rug. Yet those materials, together with traditional wool, silk, cashmere, mohair, and linen, are exactly the ingredients used by Phyllis Ripple, owner of ecoFiber Custom Rugs in Boulder.
Ripple fell in love with the art of fine rug making while living with her family in Pakistan 25 years ago. In 2007 she set out to make carpets as stunning and intricate as the masterpieces she found there.
“The finest rugs in the history of the world were made exactly the way ours are made,” says Ripple, whose rugs are handwoven on 40 communal looms in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal by expert weavers who live and work in their own villages, just as their ancestors have done for generations.
The heirloom-quality rugs Ripple sells are renewable, organic, and chemical-free. “It’s not necessary to compromise anymore—sustainability and fine-quality luxury are not mutually exclusive,” she says. The process—picking, spinning, dyeing, weaving, and finishing—takes about a season to complete. Ripple, whose best seller is a cactus rug with a silk border, says that her clients are understanding: “People who want something handmade know it takes time.”