In The Boss, women share how they became successful and the lessons they learned along the way.
I have always believed in being part of the solution. Whatever problem I encountered, I didn’t want to just sit on the sidelines and complain about it. I wanted to act.
My namesake rug company, Lorena Canals, was born from a similar need. I was a young mother, busy taking care of two little ones but always thinking three steps ahead. I watched them playing on a rug one day and thought: “Wouldn’t life be easier if I could wash rugs at home?” So I started searching for some washable rugs and I couldn’t find anything suitable. I then did what I always do: I acted and decided to create a washable rug myself. That was 25 years ago.
When the idea struck, I was selling teddy bears — yes, bears! I talked to my supplier and she believed in my idea, and trusted me. She decided to loan me some of the startup funds, which I have since paid back in full. That’s been how this project has gone from day one. I didn’t have a lot of external help. From my business plan to my manufacturing negotiations, I’ve done a lot of it on my own. I did, thankfully, have the support and encouragement of my husband and my family. It would have been an impossible task without them.
From the beginning, the heart and soul of the brand has been our machine-washable rugs. They’re easy to keep clean and completely safe for kids. Made from 100% cotton, we use natural dyes in the dying process, which are non-toxic and eco-friendly. Our products are unique handmade art pieces: no two are alike.
My rugs are inspired by the colors of India and the variety of nature. It’s something you can see in the designs we have chosen. Today, we have two different lines of products. The first one is the Kids line, where we sell products designed for children. The second one is the Home line, which are products for anyone who loves having style in their home.
The company grew quickly and since we launched, we’ve sold six million products in Barcelona alone. For busy moms, a washable rug was life changing. We first got the word out about our company by doing commercials and calling up stores to see if they’d sell our products. We have thirty-five professionals working in Barcelona, and six in America. In India, there are 200 artisans working tirelessly to create our beautiful rugs, spread over our factory and twelve offices. Two years ago, we opened our offices in the U.S. and since then we’ve sold 1.5 million products in the States. Growing here has been very different from when we first started. We focused almost immediately on digital initiatives and Amazon has been a huge part of our success. We count on a very professional team who help us achieve our goals in the U.S., particularly when it comes to e-commerce, wholesale and marketing.
I want Lorena Canals rugs in every home. Having attended an international school helped me a lot. The languages learned and the mentality acquired have been fundamental to the success of my business.
Recently, Instagram and other digital platforms have been a huge part of our growth. The effort to digitize our brand has helped propel our numbers globally, with an increase in sales of 60% from 2016 to 2017. In addition, we are continuing to sell our products in stores around the world including, in the next months, Australia.
I started designing and producing rugs and textile accessories that are both stylish and practical out of a necessity, but eventually I also saw a greater good that could be accomplished within the project too. In 2008 we started our Sakûla Project in order to bring better education opportunities to children in northern India.
The secret to my success has been not seeing limits. If you think you can do it, you can do it. If you think you can’t, you won’t. Giving back has been a huge part of our success. From the beginning, Lorena Canals has been about helping others. If you put aside part of your profits to help others, everything makes sense. These are the things I am most proud of.