Sima and Javid Hakakian have a sign hanging in their store that summarizes their philosophy in business — and life: “Nothing is impossible.”
Immigrants from Iran’s storied Jewish community, the husband-and-wife team has achieved 30 years of success in the designer rug business and 27 years of marriage — and both are as tightly woven together as the displays in their Morristown showroom.
“We work together every single day. As you can imagine, we don’t always agree, but we share the same goals,” says Sima, 50. “It always works out.”
J&S Designer Flooring — which incorporates the initials of both their first names — has outfitted the homes and offices of many public officials and celebrities, and has traveled as far as California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas to provide high-end rugs, carpeting, and flooring.
“Nobody does what we do,” says Javid, 53. “We’re always here. Every day, Sima and I — the owners — are in the store.”
Their seemingly infinite showroom features a huge selection: intricately woven Persians, vegetable-dyed cottage industry rugs, contemporary Tibetans, heirloom antiques, hardwood flooring, and wall-to-wall carpeting.
But the couple is best known for their service, and by this they don’t just mean expert installation and delivery — which they offer, of course. Sima and Javid are known for their warmth and hospitality — something they attribute to their cultural upbringing.
“We grew up in a rich culture,” says Sima. “We learned to open our homes. It’s okay if your carpet is worn; people won’t judge you on your possessions. If you don’t cook, order takeout. But be hospitable.”
Every few weeks, the couple hosts an elaborate Shabbat dinner on Friday evening at their Mendham home. Friends, family, customers, and colleagues are often invited, and Sima whips up specialty Persian stews and rice dishes.
“I like to change hats when I’m home and cook,” says Sima of the festive gatherings.
They’re also known for events at their store — speakers from Israel, charity functions, book signings. They’re active in Jewish philanthropy and belong to Mount Freedom Jewish Center.
The sociable evenings turn clients into friends, Sima says, which allows the couple to base their whole business on personal relationships. For that reason, J&S is frequently selected to provide carpeting and flooring for local schools, hospitals, law firms, and medical offices. They say they are chosen for their friendly, reliable service.
“We enjoy what we do,” says Sima. “We work all week with pleasure. We don’t mind working hard.”
The business started out of their proverbial basement; since 2000, the store has been in its current location. Soon they will expand both the showroom and the warehouse.
An informal tour of the business includes the custom department, where clients can purchase rugs made from any color, fiber, and size they wish. “There is no limit,” says Javid. There is a department devoted to antique rugs (a 140-year-old rug hangs on the wall), where a full-time employee repairs and re-weaves older rugs. There are departments for Oriental rugs, wood flooring, and carpeting.
“Everybody should have a beautiful home, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money,” says Sima. “I respect the budgets of my customers.”
The couple met in Iran when they were teens. “We were involved in a Jewish group,” remembers Sima. “I had a crush on Javid. All the girls did.”
Emigrating separately to the U.S. in the late 1970s to escape Iran’s revolution, Sima went to Los Angeles and Javid went to New York.
They met again a few years later when Sima flew to New York to see a friend. Sima was eating in a restaurant; Javid, it turns out, was her waiter.
They dated long distance for two years before marrying.
The rug business “just happened,” says Javid, who has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Queen’s College.
Sima, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics and accounting from UCLA, joined the business to help with bookkeeping and unexpectedly fell in love with design. Javid, too, says, “It’s become a part of us.”
Today, they are the parents of three children, Jonathan, 26, who graduated from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in business and finance, and works in Boonton for SoundBoard, a management consulting company; Sharon, 22, who graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Middle Eastern studies and works as manager of academic programs for New York University Abu Dhabi; and Daniel, 16, who attends Mendham High School. All are graduates of Hebrew Academy of Morris County.
“Home is sanctuary,” says Sima. “It’s where you belong.”