While many Iranian-American entrepreneurs have sought fortune in Silicon Valley, Ramdad (Dodd) Raissnia has turned to his roots. Five years ago he and his wife Melina began designing, manufacturing, and importing wool felt rugs from Iran.
I learned about their endeavor last Thursday during a presentation given by Dodd and his wife, Melina, at Design Within Reach in Berkeley. While attendees munched on treats like gaz(nougat) and baklava, the couple told the story of their adventure, which has taken them from some of the remotest places in Iran to the pages of the top home décor magazines in the U.S. Then Dodd showed a video he took of a master felt rug artisan, Haj Ali Halajian of Ramsar, Iran. (http://www.peaceindustry.com/film.html)
Thanks to the Raissnia’s endeavor, the ancient Iranian art of felt rug making has a chance to survive. Prior to their involvement there were just a handful of artisans. Today the Raissnia’s business – which they named Peace Industry — sustains 25 families working out of their newly purchased factory near Shiraz. Dodd says they spent their last pennies to buy the factory and yet they worry that their business could end abruptly if the political relationship between the U.S. and Iran deteriorates any further.
It was an inspiring evening to say the least.