For the 25th anniversary of Care & Fair, Carpet! Magazine introduces some of the organisation’s important supporters and donors to our readers. This time we talk to Jack Simantob, co-owner of wholesaler Art Resources and the driving force behind the New York Rug Show. Art Resources, based in Los Angeles and New Jersey, has been a member of Care & Fair for many years.
Art Resources imports handknotted rugs from various countries of origin. At what points in your business does Corporate Social Responsibility come into the picture?
Most of our original suppliers were from Pakistan, and that is why we started supporting projects there. Since we at Art Resources are benefitting directly and making a living of the weavers’ work we wanted to give something back. I travel there two or three times a year on business, and I am also very interested in the working and living conditions of the weavers and their families. Everything you do for the industry you do from the roots – that is my firm belief.
You have a long-term cooperation with the aid organisation Care & Fair. What convinced you to support this organisation?
The reason we chose Care & Fair over other organisations was that an extremely high percentage of the funds go directly to the beneficiaries, whereas very little money goes into marketing or administration. The organisation is run by wonderful people in Germany and in the countries of origin: I would like to thank both Peter Fliegner and Volker Heinrich for their tireless efforts in advancing this great cause. In Pakistan, Mr. Shahid Hassan Sheikh of Lahore Carpet actually does the main work pro bono. In comparison to that, it is easy for us to write a cheque – but at the same time very effective.
In what ways have you been supporting Care & Fair, and how has the cooperation influenced your business?
We started by supporting schools in Pakistan. It was essential to me that their education was non-religious, so we took a close look at the projects and found that it was. On top of that, pupils were achieving great results. I took part in a graduation ceremony once, which was very touching. You get to see how those young people also improve their parents’ lives, so the small efforts we make grow into something much bigger.
The fact that we are Care & Fair partners does not directly benefit us as wholesalers. However, our retailers can definitely benefit from the label if they explain to their customers just how great an organisation it is – which is a good selling point.