Meet Parviz Yathrebi. He’s the owner of Woven Treasures, a quaint store located at 23rd & South Streets, which imports and sells handmade rugs, textiles, and jewelry from all around the world.
Parviz moved to Philadelphia from Iran in 1977 to attend The University of Pennsylvania, where he studied English. He worked hard during his time at Penn, but he was forced to withdraw from the university after two years due to complications from the Iranian Revolution, which began in 1979. Parviz finished his studies at a local college, where he earned a degree in dental technology.
Without his family in the United States to support him, Parviz was forced to take on odd jobs to get by. He worked in a restaurant, as a taxicab driver, and even as a Jack and Jill ice cream truck driver, which was his favorite job. But Parviz continued to struggle with what he could do in this seemingly foreign city that would also alleviate his homesickness. “I am from Persia, from Iran – what do we have there?” He questioned. To Parviz, the answer was clear: rugs.
Parviz felt that creating a rug business was the most natural way to move forward because it brought him one step closer to the Iranian culture that he grew up with. He already knew the names of all the cities where the rugs were crafted, but his knowledge was initially limited to that of a regular Iranian. Parviz quickly became an ambassador for Persian rugs and culture in the United States.
In the beginning, opening the rug business proved difficult. Parviz did not have the contacts, nor the funding, that was needed to import the rugs, which can cost anywhere between a few hundred dollars to nearly $60,000. But, Parviz, a natural businessman, was lucky as he was able to bond with rug merchants in NYC, most of whom were Iranian. The merchants took Parviz under their wing and instantly provided him with rugs, without checking his credit. By 1986, Parviz opened his own store on 22nd & South Streets.
Parviz exclusively sold rugs, up until a few years ago. Today, he sells hundreds of products, which he sources from all around the world. Parviz takes a trip once a year and visits countries across Europe, Asia, and Africa on the hunt for goods he believes will be perfect for his loyal customers. His store is the product of just that: the walls are lined with tiles from Persia, Turkey, and Morocco, textiles from Central Asia and Turkey, and ceremonial masks from Africa. Tables are covered in Himalayan candles, affordable handmade jewelry, tiles, dishes, and more. Free space is filled with rugs from India, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan. Woven Treasures is truly a representation of dozens of countries around the world; Parviz likes to call his store a “micro-world.”
Parviz wants Penn students to learn from his passion and from his experiences as an Iranian immigrant who pursued his passions and be-came successful from doing so. “Dear Penn Students,” Parviz writes, “pay attention to what inside of you tells you that you love. Pursue that. Go for that. Don’t go for the money, go for what you love. Once you find that, you will work without getting tired, without any frustration, and it is going to be a joy for the rest of your life.”
Parviz invites everyone to come and visit Woven Treasures, located at 23rd & South Streets, “so they can come and see the world.” His products are connected through countries, cultures, and traditions: “Everything here is somehow intertwined,” he says proudly.
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