Iranian brothers’ rug company is flying high in St. Louis Park

Farzan Navab stands in front of his favorite rug, an antique from Iran. (Sun Sailor photo by Grace Pastoor)
Farzan Navab stands in front of his favorite rug, an antique from Iran. (Sun Sailor photo by Grace Pastoor)

By Grace Pastoor

Sun Sailor Intern

For Farzan Navab, choosing a favorite rug is like trying to pick a favorite child, but the St. Louis Park-based business owner is partial to the type of rug that helped him and his brother start their business: antique Persian.

Navab, who moved to the United States from Iran in 1976, is one of the two brothers who own the Navab Brothers Oriental Rug Co. He is celebrating the 26th year of their business, which he began with his brother, Sam, after working with a rug importer.

“Because of my interest in the arts, I thought that the rugs were a good fit for me,” said Navab, who studied at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “After the revolution in Iran, we could not go back, and so we decided to stay and start our own business.”

Navab attributes some of the success the brothers have had to the St. Louis Park and Minneapolis communities, where they operate stores.

“We literally started from scratch. We had no money, we had no resources of our own, but we had a lot of enthusiasm and we had good connections to the old country and people in our industry,” he said. “Minneapolis and St. Louis Park and the Minnesota community was very welcoming to us, so they gave us the opportunity to grow and put all the pieces of the puzzle for a successful business together.”

In 1988, the brothers opened a small location in south Minneapolis. They specialized in rug cleaning, repair and preservation. They currently are  renovating part of their business, American Rug Laundry on Lake Street.

Farzan and Sam Navab began selling rugs in 1991 and opened their St. Louis Park business, which has become their flagship, in 2001. When they began selling rugs, the brothers would purchase antique Persian rugs from estate sales and sell them in England.

“We are very happy to be in the St. Louis Park community. It means a lot to us because Excelsior Boulevard has a lot of activity going on, a lot of energy,” Navab said. “It has changed considerably since that time and is becoming more of a destination point. People come here to live on the boulevard as well as for restaurants and shopping, and we’re very happy to be an addition to this community.”

The brothers travel the world looking for rugs to sell. Their oriental rugs come from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Iran and China. Navab said each rug takes about six months to make if two people work on it full time.

Between the time a sheep is sheared to obtain the materials needed to make a rug and the time the rug is finished, about 40 people participate in the process.

“Millions of people literally live off the production of the rug,” Navab said. “We like to think of these items as art because they’re an expression of a people, a variety of designs that have many different meanings and symbols.”

For customers who do not find a ready made rug that appeals to them, they can also visit the brothers’ design business in Minneapolis. With the help of a designer, customers can create their own rug at the business.

Navab said his background in the arts combined with his brother’s education in business help their company operate smoothly.

“We see things from totally different points of view,” Navab said. “We fight all the time, but at the end our business is an indication … that it’s working.”

Contact Grace Pastoor at [email protected]