AUGUSTO FINE RUGS – PIVOTING DURING A PANDEMIC
We first introduced our series “Pivoting During a Pandemic” with TSG Boise members Western Collective, who graciously shared their experience from a taproom and brewery perspective. Now we’re sitting down with member Anna Augusto of Augusto Fine Rugs. Below, Anna shares the impact of a global shutdown within the rug weaving industry, and how this past year brought about reinforcing her true brand identity of connection, purpose, and creativity.
TSG: This spring has marked 1-year since the initial Covid-19 shutdowns in Boise. Tell us what those early days were like for Augusto Fine Rugs.
AA: To be totally honest, initially it felt like total panic. The logistics of getting projects finished overseas were daunting. Countries being entirely shut down massively impacted our business. The shipping logistics alone felt incredibly overwhelming, not to mention the pause of weavers even being able to engage with their craft. The entire business model felt impacted beyond what I could even begin to navigate early on. However, after the initial wave of fear passed and logistics slowly begin to fall into place, I found that so many clients began reaching out as they were evaluating their spaces more than ever. It felt as if making one small change provided something they had control over. I noticed people were looking for tokens of cheer, small accessories, or scatter rugs. Online invoicing allowed me to keep transactions simple and I could personally and safely drop items on doorsteps from a distance. As the spring progressed, people got down to sincerely working on bigger projects. I do believe that during this time “home” took on an entirely new meaning. That reflection of peace and tranquility became so vital to people with a pandemic just outside their doors. Our environments are vital to how we navigate each day, and more than ever I could tell how much it mattered to my clients to create spaces that provided more than just a beautiful aesthetic.
TSG: What made the biggest difference for your business during such a challenging time?
AA: Moving to an appointment-based format has allowed me to provide the level of service that these projects deserve. That scheduled time allows me to truly focus on each specific client and project in a more in-depth way than I was able to with walk-in business. Each project becomes so much more intentional and I’m more involved than ever. It’s allowed me to be with each client from the inception of the project to the final install. That change to my schedule has been huge on both a professional and personal level. More than ever, my business feels incredibly personal and intentional from start to finish.
TSG: Looking back at how your team navigated this time, what are you the most proud of?
AA: The ability to really be flexible and resilient in the showroom became reflective with our clients. There were so many delays and extensive lead times on everything, and it was encouraging to see clients handle the situation with grace and sincere understanding. This experience allowed each of us to remember how every single person in the entire supply chain of this industry has been greatly impacted. It connected all of us through a mutual goal since we were all dealing with a mutual problem and looking for mutual solutions. Humanizing the business of rug weaving truly connected each of us to the process. I’ve always used the term “weave time” in place of “lead time,” and this applied more than ever during the past
TSG: As a small business owner, what was the most valuable lesson you learned over the past year?
AA: We cannot take anything for granted. Our earth is so fragile and so is humankind. Owning a business has made me realize more than ever that each day and each project is a gift. It’s truly a privilege to own a business, yet it’s easily taken for granted. You can always prepare, but at the end of the day, you have to be flexible and willing to change. This year made me realize how vital it is to have a strong identity of what you want personally out of your business. Not what you think people want or what you even think you want. Truly evaluate what brings you the most joy as a business owner. This year gave me the gift of pause and reminded me that if it is only about the day-to-day mechanics of owning a business, it’s just not sustainable for me. I need connection, purpose, and an outlet for creativity. I find it fascinating that during a year where we were often least connected, I was able to find more connection with my client base than ever. This intentional, centered focus helped me rediscover my brand identity. When challenges come along again, I know I’ll be more prepared as I’ll be leading with the truest of intentions for my business.
To connect with Anna or make an appointment to visit her showroom, be sure to visit her website AUGUSTO FINE RUGS. You can also stay up to date on her projects over on Instagram @augustofinerugs.