23_Odegard Inc.

Weaving a solution to child labor

On the floor of Manhattan's chic Chambers hotel lies a $9,000 rug. Besides soothing sore feet in Midtown, this carpet has helped eliminate child labor. Twenty years ago, Stephanie Odegard (above), figured if she could persuade design snobs to purchase rugs certifiably made under reputable labor conditions, she could persuade suppliers to pay higher wages for employing only adults. Between Odegard Inc.—which has been profitable for 15 years—and Rugmark (a nonprofit that certifies child labor-free rugs, where Odegard is a director), she has helped pull some 3,000 kids (out of an estimated 300,000 in the industry) away from the looms and put them into school.

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