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KCEC Hosts Afghan Artisan Rug Pop Up Shop in Charleston

The aid program, designed to create jobs in Afghanistan, hosted a successful pop up shop featuring 800+ handmade rugs by 10 leading Afghan producers.

Lisa Vincenti
picture of rug shoppers looking at rug
KCEC is showcasing hundreds of made in Afghan hand-knotted rugs at Fine Rugs of Charleston.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Kabul Carpet Export Center (KCEC), a program designed to create jobs in Afghanistan, hosted a special pop up shop featuring 800+ handmade rugs by 10 leading Afghan producers from June 26 to July 5 in Charleston -- and it was a resounding success.

The Afghan Artisan Rug Pop-up showcased hand-woven rugs made from hand-spun wool with natural dye at Fine Rugs of Charleston on 1523 Meeting Street Rd.

Shoppers of the Afghan made pop-up shop set up at Fine Rugs of Charlestons were hungry to buy quality hand-mades and help Afghani weavers.

"The show was a solid success -- we sold twice as many rugs as we had set as our goal," said Stephen Landrigan, with KCEC. "The support of Charleston people for Afghan women was palpable."

Rob Leahy, owner, Fine Rugs of Charleston, founded the Kabul Carpet Export Center (KCEC), which launched in the fall of 2018 with $9 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), hosted the pop-up shop at Fine Rugs of Charleston. KCEC was the brainchild of carpet industry veterans Leahy, Richard Ringrose, Alex Zahir and Stephen Landrigan working together as Impact Carpet Associates, LLC, headquartered in Charleston to develop the concept for KCEC.

The KCEC team hosted its second pop up shop and said it was a success. From left, Rob Leahy, managing director of KCEC; Alex Zahir, production director; David Bailey, senior private sector advisor, US Agency for International Development (USAID); and Stephen Landrigan, communications director of KCEC.

"KCEC is a jobs creation program that stimulates employment for women and returning refugees," said Leahy. "Most rugs are woven by women in their homes and rug-making is one of the few ways women have of earning household income. They use knotting techniques that vary from one ethnic group to another, but have been handed down from mothers to daughters across generations."

KCEC's first pop up store was held last fall in NYC. The Charleston Afghan Artisan Rug Pop-up will run Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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