Growing up with many artists in her family, Elizabeth Vehko finds the art world a familiar place. Her love of world travel, connection to other cultures and interior design turned her work into her life-long passion. Now, as co-owner of Shaver-Ramsey Rugs, she uses her expertise to bring quality handwoven rugs and textiles to the Denver market.
Can you talk about your journey to being an owner at Shaver-Ramsey Rugs?
“I moved to Denver from the East Coast right out of college. I had worked retail at art galleries in high school and at college. So, naturally I looked for a retail position when I moved here. I knew that I wanted to work in Cherry Creek North. The previous galleries I worked at featured international folk art, paintings, jewelry and weavings. Thus, when I walked into Shaver-Ramsey, and it felt very comfortable. I applied for a job with all intention of going back to law school within a year or so. However, I was swept into this magical world of international travel and weavings and never left. Within five years, one of the founders of Shaver-Ramsey retired, and I became a partner in the business.”
Please describe your influences.
“My influences in the art world began very early. My parents were art collectors and folk artists themselves. My interest in weaving started when I worked at Nantucket Looms on Nantucket Island. The gallery had working looms on site where they produced beautiful weavings: throws, blankets, scarves. When I came to Shaver-Ramsey, it was a whole new world to learn. I didn’t know anything about handwoven rugs from overseas, so I learned the business from the ground up. Paul Ramsey, my business partner, is one of the world’s experts on carpets and weavings. He taught me a great deal and I began traveling to other countries to buy rugs. I also attended conferences around the world to learn about antique rugs, which is the basis for everything in my field.”
Can you talk about current rug trends?
“I am seeing color, color and more color as a current trend. When it’s not someone looking for color, they are looking for warmer neutrals. For rugs, there are three design categories people shop for: traditional, contemporary or transitional. Sometimes transitional can fall either into a traditional setting or contemporary setting. Another trend I am seeing is people shopping for a more boho chic look which can be Moroccan- inspired looks or Navajo-inspired looks and which almost always incorporate some textural component, whether a shaggier pile or different pile heights.”
How has the industry changed?
“The rug industry has changed through the years to become a more fashion-forward, trend-setting industry within the design world. Whereas 25 years ago, people bought rugs for their homes that they would pass down generation to generation, now, people buy rugs for what fits their current lifestyle and décor which they may change out in five or 10 years.”
Any favorite rugs or materials?
“I love rugs that are created with beautiful materials, rugs with hand-spun wool and natural plant dyes. Those are the materials that were used to make antique rugs. I also love silk sari rugs which are rugs woven from unraveled Indian saris that are re-dyed and then woven into rugs.”