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From Rugs to Riches

By Ariana Hill | September 26, 2022

Photo Credit: Michele Holmes

University at Albany sophomore Michele Holmes, a sociology major with a minor in business, has found a way to let her creative ideas flow while still earning an education by making and selling customized rugs out of her campus dorm.

Holmes’s creative rug business is called Rugzby Renee. She accepts design ideas from customers or creates her own upon request and turns them into unique square, rectangular, oval rugs of various sizes.

Holmes said she runs her company out of her dorm room on Dutch Quad, but also receives help from her mother, who sends her orders from her home in Brooklyn.

“All of my life my mom has made me sell something,” Holmes said, adding that she has always had a love for running her own business.

Holmes said she developed her love for being an entrepreneur from her parents who taught her how important having your own business is and the value and joy of living a creative life while supporting oneself.

“I've had a business license since 10th grade,” said Holmes, whose mom trademarked her name Michele Renee Holmes as she began to make lip-gloss in high school as her first business idea.

During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Holmes transitioned from lip-gloss to rugs due to a desire for creativity and interest. Holmes mentions that she always loved being creative and how rugs were a way for her to do so. Social media played a very large role in Holmes’ interest in the new career switch, inspiring and teaching her how to create these rugs.

​​Holmes buys most of her raw materials from Amazon and Walmart, and the tools of her trade include a rug gun, which she uses to paint designs on the yarn, a projector, a looper for yarn, and a rug frame, which her mother made out of wood and finally yarn.

Holmes said that being tech savvy has helped her business flourish. She uses an iPad to experiment with new designs and has learned Photoshop to project and trace images onto a rug she’s developing for customers, who are mostly college students.

Her rugs cost about $100 to $350, depending on the size and detail of the design, which have included elaborate characters from different t.v shows, different designs customized by customers, as well as different album covers from well known artists, such as Kanye West.

“I tell myself there is nothing I can’t do,” said Holmes about her attitude as an entrepreneur and as a student.

While the hours may be long, she said she doesn’t mind. A 9 to 5 career is not something she said she wants to do.

Custom rugs made by Holmes of characters Riley and Huey Freedman from television show “The Boondocks”

Photo Credit: Michelle Holmes

Being an entrepreneur and a student with 5 courses has not always been easy, but she said enjoys the flexibility of being her own boss and spending the five to seven days making rugs brings her joy – and she hopes to her customers as well.

At the times, the workload can be stressful, but Holmes said making rugs is a relaxing outlet, and she is motivated daily by her creative friends, many of whom are beauticians and entrepreneurs like her.

She also gains a lot of her inspiration from the successes of rapper and fashion designer Kanye West and tennis player Serena Williams.

When she’s not making rugs and studying, Holmes said she relaxes with friends or finds time to be by herself.

“Being able to invest in yourself as well as your business is important,” said Holmes.


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