Jess Been’s world is filled with light and color. The St. Simons Island native opened her design studio, Wired Collaborative, in 2019 at 136 Retreat Plaza. There, she works with clients to supply authentic Turkish rugs and creative lighting solutions. We sat down with the entrepreneur to talk about her vision, her work, and her business.
Q: Okay, we have to ask, why lighting and rugs?
A: If I had a dollar for every time I hear this question, I would be working with neither! So here it is straight from the source … it was one of those circumstances where I was fortunate to start my own business and took the leap of faith. In its infancy, the idea was to have a lighting showroom located on St. Simons that offered a higher level of design along with my own lighting line — hence the name “Wired.” Having worked in both San Francisco and Atlanta, my background as an interior designer is in workplace and education interiors. These work opportunities gave me a lot of exposure to custom design and fabrication. This part of my career is where my love for all things lighting grew.
Now for how Turkish rugs came into the picture. My current business partner, Ahmet, and I were colleagues from when I worked in Atlanta. Ahmet has 25-plus years working with rugs and is the reason I love what I do and have had such great success thus far. He pushed me to consign and sell some of his rug inventory while I was getting going. I started with less than 100 pieces of hodge podge inventory and it took off. It took off so much that I told myself this is it and have never looked back.
Q: How has your business grown?
A: Rugs, rugs, and more rugs. I still work with lighting and work with mainly local developers and builders, but the rugs are my business. Since working with Ahmet’s initial inventory, I now have my own inventory imported from Turkey. Our business has become hand sourcing one-of-a-kind rugs directly from Turkey. Our rugs are located in my studio on St. Simons and now in UpCountry at ADAC in Atlanta.
Q: How do you source your rugs?
A: Our goal with the one-of-a-kind Turkish rugs is to work directly with our well-vetted connections in Turkey. Where we offer something different is we don’t purchase from a middle-man. We don’t buy rugs from vendors in the states.
The idea is to travel to Turkey and select each piece one-by-one. We want to offer our client base the best quality, colors, design, and price. The goal is authenticity. It’s a lot more than just flying to Turkey and buying some rugs. It is truly sourcing. Ahmet and I always joke but it is accurate: Step one is finding a member of the ‘rug mafia’ to work with, and no joke, it is like a mafia.
Step two is building relationships and good ‘street cred’ to find the good stuff. It’s all in personal relationships.
Q: How has 2020 affected your business?
A: Well for starters, there has been no traveling to Turkey, let alone out of Glynn County, so there is that. Despite 2020, business is great and is growing.
We are fortunate and so thankful for our client base — local and all throughout the Southeast. We like to say sales boosted during COVID as people are working more in their dining rooms and are trading out granny’s Dorthy Draper heirloom for one of our beauties.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: I love the relationship-building aspect of the business along with the travel and history. There is always so much to learn whether it is about rugs or business.
Q: Are there any business goals and aspirations moving forward into 2021?
A: Just honing in and growing on what we do best — Turkish rugs. We actually have had lots of opportunities to work with some hotel and hospitality clients and designers on some more unique projects.
My favorite thus far has been submitting a proposal for custom upholstered rug panels for a bar/restaurant project. As a designer, I love an opportunity to collaborate in new ways.
Q: How do you work with clients and members of the trade?
A: We work with anyone. We wholesale, retail, and we offer exclusive trade pricing to designers and architects.
So schedule an appointment with us today. We look forward to working with you!