SME Champions is a series featuring the people behind Singapore’s homegrown enterprises. It tells the stories of their relentless pursuits towards success and the things that keep them going.
At the age of 12, Faiz spent most of his time at his father’s carpet shop fiddling with carpets and talking to customers.
“I still remembered the smiles on the customers’ faces when they shared how long they’ve known my father and how many times they came back to us from overseas. It was that sense of fulfillment that kept me going,” he shared with me.
His father had a store off the Dubai creek while his uncle operates two other stores in the United Kingdom and the United States.
They represent the third generation of carpet sellers and their stores were patronized by travelers, expatriates, avid collectors and artisans from all over the world.
“As a child, I’ve always wanted to take over my father’s business and never thought of anything else,” he said.
Faiz developed a passion for selling carpets and was adamant about continuing his family’s legacy that started almost 35 years ago.
After graduating from university, Faiz and his brother travelled to Southeast Asia and East Asia in the hope of bringing their family brand to this part of the world.
With the help of his father’s contacts, they were introduced to a couple of prominent businessmen in Singapore.
“We showed our carpets to some notable figures here and they wanted to purchase them – that was when we knew we had to open a store in Singapore.”
The Handmade Carpet Gallery opened its doors in 1999 at Tudor Court.
Known to many residents of the Tanglin precinct, the store is a purveyor of handmade carpets that are made in looms located in India, and places such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.
From everyday cotton to lush silk, carpets stocked in The Handmade Gallery come in different fabrics, patterns, knots and colours.
Faiz said that it takes at least a year to weave a carpet, depending on the intricacies of the design and its size. The piece shown on the left with Faiz was woven by a master artisan, and it took him and his partner about three years to complete.
“Every piece of carpet tells a different story. No two pieces of carpet and no two pairs of hands that make them are the same,” Faiz said.
Apart from the available carpets in the store, customers can also place custom orders for special designs to be made.
There is no fixed pricing for the carpets sold in the store because Faiz believes that carpets are valuable pieces of art.
Although he has a base price for each piece, customers can name the price that they are willing to pay.
“Even during our sales period, we do not mark up before we slash the price. We want to be transparent in our pricing and make sure that customers are comfortable with the amount they are paying for their very own piece of art.”
When Faiz’s father passed away and they had to close the store in Dubai, his father’s customers came flocking to his store in Singapore.
I asked how he managed to make his customers come back to him after all these years.
“It’s all about trust and it all begins by putting our customers first,” he replied.
Staying true to their promise of placing customers at the center, they offer 24/7 customer service support and always go the extra mile for their customers.
Spilt some coffee on your carpet? Or did you experience a case of wear and tear?
The team at Handmade Carpet Gallery will reply to you within 2 hours and assist you in any way possible.
If you are not looking to purchase a carpet, the store also provides the option to lease.
“It is more than just selling carpets, it is about forging and maintaining the relationship with our customers,” Faiz said.
Like many other retailers, Faiz has experienced a fall in the number of walk-in customers since the onset of the pandemic.
“We know that everyone is cutting down on their spending, so we decided to mark down our prices and offer free worldwide shipping. We hope that the market will recover soon.”
“Business has been slow, but I am still thankful for a few regular customers that still support us during this time.
Besides selling carpets, his family and relatives have set up a travel agency called Fayyaz Travels and an Italian restaurant called Squisito.
“Our grandfathers and fathers didn’t manage to venture into other types of businesses. And now that we have, I’m sure that they’ll be happy knowing that.”
At present, Faiz’s main priority is to make Handmade Carpet a household name in Singapore.
When asked about whether his children have shown any interest in taking over his business, he says with a guffaw, “I’m not sure, they are contented with just being the modern-day millennials – but I hope they do when they get older.”
Address: 133 Tanglin Rd, Singapore 247925
Telephone: 6734 9500
Opening Hours: Mon - Sun, 11am-6pm
Jennifer loves helping SMEs in their business growth journey. She is also an epicurean and has perpetual wanderlust. During the weekend, she weaves poems out of thin air and buries herself in books.