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Those Ruggable ads taking over your Instagram feed? We talk to the genius behind it all

Jeneva Bell, founder of Ruggable
Jeneva Bell, founder of the two-piece rug system Ruggable, at her 40,000-square-foot warehouse in in Gardena.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Area rugs offer warmth, vibrancy and style to your home but are a financial and aesthetic investment that gets dirty fast. And they’re an utter pain to clean.

Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Jeneva Bell recalls struggling to clean up after her dog, Bambi, had an accident on her living room rug a decade ago. That’s when Bell dreamed up the idea for a two-piece, easily washable system that would stop liquids and odors from getting trapped deep in a rug’s fibers.

“I realized in order to thoroughly clean your rugs you needed to separate some sort of top and put it in the home washing machine. With new detergents, OxiClean and boosters like that now available, [rugs] should be as easy to clean as your bedding, towels and other home textiles,” Bell said.

A Ruggable runner
A Ruggable runner. If it suffers a spill or other mishap, the cover comes off and it just goes into the washer.
(Ruggable)
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That insight led her to launch Ruggable, a two-piece rug system that features a machine-washable, lightweight rug cover in more than 600 original designs and a nonslip rug pad made of 95% recycled polyester.

The ingenious “Why didn’t I think of that!” approach is made for social media: Ruggable’s posts to its Instagram account (380,000 followers) “never fails to stop me in my Instagram scroll,” said Kate Rumson, who runs the mega-popular decor account, @the_real_houses_of_ig: @ruggable regularly entertains with gasp-out-loud rug mishaps — a chocolate cake is slam-dunked into a white rug! — that all end well after a spin through the washer.

A Disney-themed rug by Ruggable
Look closely: It’s a Disney-themed rug by Ruggable, one of 27 Mickey- and Minnie-designed rugs.
(Ruggable)

The approach was enough to make Disney take notice: Its recent collaboration with Ruggable features 27 Mickey- and Minnie-themed rugs. Some are inconspicuous, like the Mickey Persian Burgundy rug, while others boldly celebrate a theme, such as the funky Mickey Doodles rug.

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Another Disney-themed option by Ruggable.
Another Disney-themed option by Ruggable.
(Ruggable)

Bell said her brand is aimed at converting traditional rug lovers while expanding the market and offering a solution to those who previously avoided rugs because of the expense and difficulty of keeping them clean.

Light-colored Ruggable
Ruggable is a two-piece rug system with a machine-washable, lightweight rug cover and a nonslip rug pad.
(Ruggable)

The soft backside of the rug cover is designed to easily attach to and detach from the rug pad’s clingy hook texture without billowing in the middle or losing its hold. The bottom of the rug pad is made from the same grippy, latex-free synthetic material commonly used in yoga mats, making it ideal for wood and other hard-surface floors.

“Essentially you’re making a one-piece rug you could turn upside down and the cover doesn’t go anywhere,” Bell said. “People love it even more because it’s also a very effective nonslip rug.”

Ruggable
Ruggable’s social media campaign is aimed at winning over skeptical customers.
(Ruggable)

The polyester rug cover has a polyurethane waterproof barrier sandwiched between the top surface, made from 100% woven polyester chenille, and the bottom surface, made of 100% polyester knit. The barrier blocks dirt, odor and liquids from penetrating the cover’s bottom layer and the pad.

“In addition to pet accidents, I think one of the best benefits of a washable rug is when you have people over and someone accidentally spills something. They feel terrible, it stops the party, and you have to clean up right away. Here you can actually leave it and deal with it the next day,” said Bell.

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Those irresistible social media videos and user-friendly instructional videos? They are all part of a savvy digital marketing campaign to illustrate how the system works, especially for those who “still don’t believe and think it’s some sort of gimmick,” she said.

The company is committed to using nontoxic materials, including wearable-grade polyester glue and textile ink — the same “standards for clothing worn on your body and against your skin all day long,” Bell said.

The two-piece system allows for interchangeable covers and comes in a variety of sizes, giving Ruggable the freedom to explore dynamic, experimental designs and allowing consumers to be bold and creative with a variety of looks.

“Ruggable made our runway dreams come true by creating an impossibly long 200-foot custom rug” for a runway show, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley said.

The rugs are designed in-house, either hand-drawn or -painted and manufactured locally from the company’s 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Gardena or its new Chicago location serving the Midwest and East Coast.

“It’s really fun to watch the design team create more and more looks from scratch. We’re really excited to be getting into more shapes, textures and different functionality this year, including a fluffy shag rug that’s really cozy, soft and washable,” Bell said.

Environmental responsibility and philanthropy are also paramount to Ruggable; the company has donated more than 10,000 slightly used rugs to people in need, recycled more than 125,000 corrugated boxes and will plant at least 100,000 trees this year to offset its carbon footprint. Animal welfare causes and support to organizations like the Foundation for Animal Care and Education are particularly important to Bell.

“A dog gave me this idea and so much back, so that’s completing the cycle,” she said.


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