The Persian Carpet Team

You've met the family - now meet the whole team that lives the dream! So....Who does what?

Nelda Lay
The Big Boss and the Backbone of TPC

Nelda is the backbone of the business. Starting with only a handful of rugs some forty years ago, under her guiding eye the business has grown to become one of the preeminent oriental rug businesses in the United States.

Nelda hails from Louisiana, where she attended LSU and trained to become a schoolteacher. She taught for four years in the tough streets of Chicago, so she is no pushover. When she was at LSU, she met her future husband Doug, with whom she had two daughters, Christen and Cynthia. When Doug returned from research trips to Iran, he would bring back high-quality rugs, so Nelda decided there was potential for good business in the rug world. Nelda established The Persian Carpet, and in the true spirit of America, turned a small business into a sizeable enterprise which has provided a livelihood for many people over the years.

As The Boss, Nelda runs a tight ship. She does the books, pays the bills, and signs the checks. At the end of the day, if an executive decision has to be made, she is the person in charge. And if any of you telemarketers out there think you have a soft target with this elegant Southern Belle, then be warned: when it’s crunch time, she is a Steel Magnolia!




Nelda Lay

Doug Lay
The Other Boss and Creative Genius of TPC

As most of us know, a relationship is all about balance, and here at The Persian Carpet it is no different: Doug is the yin to Nelda's yang. A lot of customers are mystified as to what Doug actually does here at The Persian Carpet, mainly because whenever they call for him he is never around. He has always disappeared into the ether and no one quite knows where he has gone or when he will be back. But hey, that’s how Doug rolls!

The fact of the matter is that Doug pretty much does some of everything here. No job is too menial: He washes rugs, he maintains the building, he changes the lights, he flips stacks until his back breaks. Not many bosses do such chores–he is a truly humble man.

But, more importantly, Doug makes things happen! Doug is always thinking about what the business can do to expand. He is the main brain behind the lines of rugs that we manufacture at The Persian Carpet and distribute around the country. The Arts and Crafts Line, The Dreamcatcher Line, The Pendleton Lines–these are all Doug's good ideas and are the result of many years of labor on his part, involving countless trips to India to make design ideas become rug realities. These great rug lines, which comprise a significant portion of the business, are primarily the result of Doug's tireless efforts.

A final word on Doug. It is fair to say that, along with Nelda, he is the personality of the business. He is welcoming and charming, witty and entertaining, upbeat and positive. No one who has ever had the good fortune to meet him ever forgets him. As the Cockneys would say, he is a rare diamond geezer!




Doug Lay

Cynthia McLaren
The Little Boss and Marketing and Wholesale Lines

Just as Cynthia is the biological product of Doug and Nelda, she incorporates the perfect blend of their personalities and work ethics. Like her Dad, she is a dynamo, getting done in a day what most people get done in a week. She literally throws herself into her work and makes things happen.

Cynthia has a lot on her plate. She is responsible for all of the advertising at The Persian Carpet (which is a very considerable amount of work), and coordinates the Southwestern Lines of rugs that we manufacture. Doug is the design man, but Cynthia puts those thoughts into action, working with trade representatives, attending trade shows, and keeping a handle on this rapidly growing part of the business.

Somehow, in the midst of this maelstrom of activity, she also finds the time to work with customers who come in the store. She always has the energy to greet them with a big and sincere smile.




Cynthia McLaren

Steve Williams.
Operations Manager (“Black Ops”) and To-the-Trade Liaison

Attempting to do justice to the talents of Steve is akin to catching lightning in a bottle. Steve is like the head surgeon at the nerve center of The Persian Carpet, buzzing away like an electric current in order to keep our computer systems functioning and up-to-date. His work is important, because if the computer system crashes then the whole edifice follows. Steve would like a dollar for every day he has been off work and received a phone call along the lines of 'Hi Steve, I know this is your day off but the computers have crashed, and we were wondering if you could...' (you know the rest).

But Steve never fails to handle each crisis with steady hand and a level head. He is our Rock of Gibraltar in the raging IT storm. Such self-assurance translates into his other major role here at The Persian Carpet, which is Trade Liaison. He works closely with the many professional designers who grace our doors. Before their questions have even tumbled from their lips, Steve knows what they want and how to get it. A turn of the century Serapi in mint condition? No problem. A fine nomadic Gabbeh with burnt umber accents on an indigo blue field? You can tell by the glint in his eye that Steve already has the answers.

Beyond the deep wells of knowledge, mention must be made of his style of delivery, for Steve is no taciturn monk! Rather, he is a silver-tongued conversationalist who will cause your thoughts to drift as mysteriously as the sands in more oriental climes. Before you know it, hours have passed in a blissful and rejuvenating spiritual repose.




Steve Williams

Barak Rutledge
Logistics Manager and Dealer Liaison.

Meet Barak, the young whippersnapper of the business. Barak has a lot going for him: a razor-sharp wit, a brain like a computer, and a lightening-sharp sense of humor. A UNC graduate with a photographic memory, he knows where each and every one of our inventory of more than 7000 rugs can be found. Exaggeration? No, come in and test him yourself!

But Barak's knowledge goes far beyond that. You can dream up the most obscure type of antique oriental rug and Barak will know where to go to find it. This is hardly surprising considering that Barak began working here at the tender age of 15. As he himself says, “The Persian Carpet is the only home I've ever known.” As a sideline, he also manages all of the business’s shipping logistics.




Barak Rutledge

Alberto Balderas
Sales Associate, Cleaning Specialist, and Website Contributor

Most of the time Alberto is to be found towards the rear of the premises, overseeing all of the rug cleaning operations that are undertaken at The Persian Carpet. He also maintains and updates our inventory on the website. Alberto has a voracious thirst for all forms of knowledge, which not only means that he is an authority on textile cleaning, but is remarkably well-informed about everything from financial markets to post-beat literature. Fluent in both Spanish and English, he is learning Italian and German for fun! A highly motivated person, Alberto has put himself through college, on top of holding a job and providing for his family. He is an inspiration to all of us!




Alberto Balderas

Jan Ali
Rug Repair Specialist and All-Around Rug Guru
Meet Jan Ali. Jan is as old as the sands of time–perhaps even older. He won't say, so we don't know! Jan Ali is a Kazakh who can trace his lineage back to Chinngis Khan, but sometimes, just for fun, he tells people he is an Eskimo...and everyone believes him! Jan Ali has led an exceptional life: he has walked the length and breadth of the Asian continent. In the process, he has accumulated a vast knowledge of rugs borne of the best school of all: real life! You are bound to have a more authentic knowledge of nomadic rugs if you have seen the nomads making the rugs. When you enter the shop, Jan sits quietly in the corner, assiduously making his repairs, blending like a chameleon into his surroundings so well that most people don't even know he’s there. Jan Ali has undertaken the meticulous repair work here at The Persian Carpet for forty years and we consider ourselves very fortunate to have such an expert gracing us with his presence!



Jan Ali


So, there you have it: the backbone, the bread-and-butter, the nuts and bolts, the genius that make The Persian Carpet hum. Although each person plays a specific role here at the business, each and every one of us is amply qualified to help you in any aspect of your rug needs. When you walk in the red doors between the two camels, we’ll welcome you with a smile and the ability to assist you. Think of it: You’ll have three BAs, two MAs, a PhD, and a Guru all at your beck and call!

Traditional, Transitional, and Contemporary
Oriental Carpets for your Home

Come visit our location in Durham, NC or you can call us for more information at (919) 489-8362.