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Loomed NOLA 

click to enlarge Striped cotton pestemels, $58 each at Loomed NOLA.
  • Striped cotton pestemels, $58 each at Loomed NOLA.

At Loomed NOLA (451 Philip St., 504-252-9794), which recently celebrated its grand opening, Molly Pittman and Paul Babineaux work with artisan weavers in Turkey to import hand-woven products.

  "We have linen, silk, cotton and a few bamboo things," Pittman says of the goods, which meet global organic textile standards.

  The idea to sell handmade Turkish textiles came about after Pittman and Babineaux spent a year abroad in Istanbul. The two were shopping for gifts in a market when they came across an assortment of flat-woven and plush towels. After several trips to the market, they knew they wanted to sell the towels back home.

  "We kept going back to get more stuff. Eventually, we just walked up and said, 'This is awesome, it can do really well in America,'" Babineaux says. As it happens, the Turkish vendors needed business partners in the U.S. and accepted the proposal.

click to enlarge Pestemels (flat-woven bath towels) are the same as those used in Turkish bathhouses. These cost $38 each.
  • Pestemels (flat-woven bath towels) are the same as those used in Turkish bathhouses. These cost $38 each.

  Loomed NOLA's by-appointment showroom sells several types of textiles. It was pestemels, flat-woven bath towels that can be used as tablecloths or sarongs. Peskirs are also flat-woven but come in a smaller size and can be used as hand or hair towels. They also sell kese, exfoliating scrubbing mitts woven from tree bark, and silk scarves, robes and plush bath towels. Prices range from $20 to $625.

  Both Pittman and Babineaux feel this business is a way to keep old traditions alive.

  "We want to attract a new generation of weavers because it's an ancient tradition, and they produce amazing things," Pittman says. "If this current generation doesn't teach the next, we won't have access to goods like these." — Hernandez

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