Man’s Major Risk Turns Into A Life -Altering Choice, There’s a persistent rhythm to the sewing machines at the Colonial Mills factory in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
Needles puncture through cords of cotton and linen, binding yards of fabric into soft braided rugs and baskets so fast they’re barely visible at a passing glance.
The women operating the machines act like snake charmers, coaxing tangled piles of baby pink, gray or floral blue fabric out of barrels and into recognizable rug forms with seemingly magical ease.
Only the hissing sound of forced air competes with the drum of the needles. The air comes through small holes drilled into sprawling green wooden tables, helping to levitate the rugs and ease the process of spinning them as they grow to 9- or 12-feet wide.
There’s a loft-like feeling to the 68,000-square-foot factory, with windows that flood the wide-open floor plan with light, and cheerful white and green painted walls that give off an energetic freshness. Rooms for bobbin production, fabric storage and braid making are remarkably clean, with not one fabric cutting out of place.
On an average day, 80 employees will make about 700 rugs, and in a year fill 175,000 orders. Often it only takes two days from when you hit “submit” on your online order to having one of these rugs under your feet.
While the digital age may have added online-only retailers like Wayfair.com (W) to Colonial Mills’ traditional customer base of stores such as Pottery Barn and Kohl’s (KSS), the company hasn’t much changed the way it makes its rugs since it opened in the 1950s. They all start as cotton from Georgia or wool from Canada or America that is dyed, braided into flat or cable lock patterns and then sewn on one of the company’s 35 sewing machines.