Entrepreneur - Humanitarian - Visionary
Tufenkian Artisan Carpets was founded by James Francis Tufenkian in the year 1986. Graduated from New York University School of Law and accepted to the New York Bar, he began his career as an entrepreneur shortly after. Based in New York, he started Tufenkian Artisan Carpets. It was the first company in the antiquated carpet business to create an internationally recognized brand, and to design and manufacture its products targeted to
the high-end, fashion segment of the carpet business - a market which in fact the company itself created. Tufenkian Artisan Carpets now has 5,000 employees in its Nepalese factories, 150 distributors around the world, and six company-owned showrooms in the United States and one in London.
After the collapse of the former Soviet Union Mr. Tufenkian resolved to return to the country of his ancestors and participate in the development of a new and independent Armenia. In 1993 he launched a handcrafted carpets business there, employing as many as 1000 workers, and creating a carpet-manufacturing infrastructure which quickly attracted other entrepreneurs to begin productions of their own, and employ still more Armenians.
In the year 1999 with his carpet manufacturing running smoothly in Armenia, Mr. Tufenkian searched for the next opportunity to make money while doing something of importance for the development of the nation. The inspiration to build a chain of boutique hotels throughout the countryside came to him. Trading on his experience as design director of his fashion-oriented carpets company, his many contacts in the interior design community, and his hands-on experience as a consumer of luxury tourism facilities throughout the world, he seized the opportunity.
At that time it was considered crazy to invest in infrastructure in the country at all, and even more so in the dilapidated countryside. But with such an opportunity to impact development of the country, to create a warm reception for the Armenian Diaspora waiting to discover their homeland, and to help create a vocabulary of New Armenian design for the 21st century, he boldly stepped in.
Since that time he has expanded into the gourmet foods business, creating with Sylvia Tirakian as equal partner the award winning Harvest Song brand of preserves, based on proprietary formulas and controlled production in Armenia.
In addition to his business activities, he created the Tufenkian Foundation in New York in 1996. Its focus is on activities in Armenia and the Nagorno Karabagh Republic. The Foundation’s activities are constantly evolving to address the most urgent needs of the nation, especially those which the international aid community is reluctant to take on. So the NKR branch is deeply involved in resettling refugees from Syria, Azerbiajan, and other disaster zones into abandoned areas of the country, and developing an economic base in each to support the revival of communities. In Armenia the focus has always included environment, social protection, and democratic development (for a complete list of projects past and present click here).