USAID’s Kabul Carpet Export Center (KCEC) conducted its first ever Afghan Artisan Rug Pop-Up in New York from October 30 to November 3, 2019.

The second floor of the Metropolitan Pavilion, 123 W. 18th St., was filled with close to 1,500 hand-knotted rugs and hand-woven kilims flown in from Afghanistan. They ranged from the traditional to the ultra-contemporary. All were made from hand-spun wool dyed with natural colors and hand-knotted into carpets, mostly by women working in their homes.

This first-ever sale of its kind began with an exclusive one-day private sale for wholesalers that featured opening remarks from the Hon. Selgai Sajad, Consul General of Afghanistan in New York, along with Rob Leahy, KCEC Managing Director and Najlla Habibyar, KCEC Chief of Party.

On subsequent days, the show was open to retailers and the general public. During the show, KCEC sold just over $300,000 worth of carpets made by 14 prominent Afghan manufacturers, of whom 10 also attended the show. KCEC recorded 390 visitors that included wholesalers, retailers and end-consumers who jumped t the chance to connect directly with Afghan manufacturers.

KCEC is now acting as a bridge between international buyers and Afghan carpet producers. Retailers attending the show said they welcomed KCEC’s assistance in building long-distance business relationships with Afghan manufacturers. They cited a strong demand for Afghan hand-knotted carpets in the U.S. market.

James Opie, author and Afghan rug expert who was a featured guest speaker at the show said: “Seeing the KCEC team members working really hard impressed me deeply.”

Quotes from Participants

“The U.S. market demand for hand-made carpets has greatly changed, compared to seven to ten years ago. The Afghan Artisan Rug Pop-up has been a great opportunity for me to understand the market changes so that I can adjust my production.” --Haji Abdul Qadir Qandeel Bey, Qandeel Carpets, Ltd.

“It was my first time attending an international market event and directly meeting and selling my products to international carpet buyers. Thanks to KCEC for providing me the opportunity.”

--Sakhi Turdi, Kerki Industrial Carpet Production, Ltd.