A coffee with Pip and Lisa from Siggada
A coffee with Pip and Lisa from Siggada
I met Pip and Lisa at my enduring favourite cafe, Kokako Café and Roastery. I ordered a long black. Pip had emailed me a week earlier to tell me about the business she and Lisa bought just one short month ago. It’s called Siggada, a company that sells kilims. I didn’t know what a kilim was, which was one of the reasons I wanted to meet them (I don’t like not knowing things – or people).
One month ago, Pip and Lisa bought Siggada from the previous owners, Phil and Ali. They did it because the business itself was fascinating, and promised a fascinating future for them both.
So what is a kilim? It’s a flat weave carpet; a kind of magic carpet, because each kilim is embedded with the essence of the weaver.
Around thirty years ago, a couple called Phil and Ali were travelling through Turkey when they met a family with a young son who was born with no backbone. In the interest of offering some financial support, Phil and Ali purchased a number of kilims from the family and brought them back to New Zealand to see what people thought. They sold well, and suddenly, Phil and Ali found themselves with a business.
The couple would travel for a few months at a time, carefully sourcing and selecting kilims to bring home, then they would spend the rest of the year selling the kilims. They’ve been building relationships with suppliers and weavers of kilims for thirty years now, and this is the legacy that they have passed onto Pip and Lisa.
Kilims are fascinating objects, created for a nomadic culture. All kilims are one-off pieces - like art for your floor - which were originally used to decorate the tents of their creators. Most kilims are hand-dyed and woven using flat looms. Pip and Lisa explain to me that they can take years to make, and that there are almost ridiculous levels of intricacy and detail in the patterns of each one. Kilims are infused with the cultural history of the people that created them, as each tribe has its own motif - they are creations of a visually literate people; those who literally weave their life stories.
Understandably, Pip and Lisa found the whole concept and reality of kilims to be fascinating. Lisa is a graphic designer by trade, but she’s always had an interest in textiles, while Pip has a background in interior design and visual merchandising (for Louis Vuitton, no less). Now they live two doors down from each other in Grey Lynn and work from a home showroom.
Initially, it was Lisa’s idea to take over the business from her now mentors, Phil and Ali, and then Pip jumped in saying, “I’m doing it too!”
Both women have young families, and running Siggada is a lifestyle choice of sorts, an occupation of interest. They want their days to be consumed by something fulfilling and fun, and this intriguing business offers both of these things, plus it brings with it the exciting prospect of travelling to far-flung and exotic destinations, and discovering new cultures and ways of life. Sounds like a dream.
The pair are already planning a kilim-sourcing trip to Turkey and surrounds early next year; which is both an exhilarating and a slightly frightening prospect for these two dedicated mothers.
Phil told them straight out when they bought the business that they wouldn’t be making much money out of it. The time and effort required to source the kilims and bring them home means it’s always going to be a tricky economic venture. What Phil did promise them, however, is adventure.
The stories that Pip and Lisa have heard from Phil and Ali about their travels were enough to inspire them. They retold one to me over our second coffee. On one trip, Phil had a man tramp for days to meet him; his wife had died, and he was solely responsible for supporting and caring for a large family. This man had taken nine months to weave the kilim he presented to Phil. Naturally, Phil bought it. It was the worst kilim he had ever seen.
Before meeting Pip and Lisa, I’d have said you couldn’t buy that kind of experience, but I think these two have definitely bought the potential for it.
There’s no small amount of bravery required to embark upon this new and quite dramatic business venture. It’s one of those things that started as a conversation, became and idea and then was suddenly very real. One day Pip’s husband turned to her and said, “are you actually serious about the rug thing?” And she realised she was.
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