Threading Rugs & Friends

Hedy Zhang | March 26th, 2024 (Volume 3)
Hedy Zhang shares her journey from a perfectionist child with a love for coloring to the founder of the Fuzz Lab, a tufting workshop in Austin. Despite not excelling in traditional art forms, tufting's simplicity and colorful nature captivated her. Unable to find a platform for tufting in Austin, Zhang took the initiative to start the Fuzz Lab. The workshop quickly gained popularity, providing a space and creative outlet to socialize and foster friendships.


Pictured here is me at five years old. I grew up a perfectionist. I want to get a A in every class. My first-ever C, unlike most people, was not in Algebra II, but in elementary school art. I know, devastating.

What I learned, don’t be fooled by this picture. What I’m holding up is a color painting, like coloring. I was so good at coloring. I loved coloring. However, drawing from a figure from a reference, not good at all. But it was because I love coloring so much, I also developed this love for aesthetic and coloring things, and that’s why tufting as an art form really appealed for me from the beginning.

I tried it first time about two years ago in China. I got to sketch this artwork on a canvas and then trace it, which is good because I can’t draw freehand, and get to fill in the blanks with these colorful yarns. And that was so fun, so rewarding when I got to see the rug from the other side, got to trim my own rug. And got to produce something aesthetically pleasing and functional at the same time. How cool is that? I have never taken a pottery class or a painting class, just because I know how horrible I was. From the age of five, I was reminded of that.

But this tufting experience was so fun for me that I was thinking, “How many people out there that is not traditionally good at art, but is also really appreciative of art and want to partake in some art form, want to do it?” So picture here is me and my best friend, Daisy, growing up. Daisy is the same as me. I don’t know if she received a C, but she was also branding herself as not one of the most talented artists. But she was my experimental little rat.

I was like, “Daisy, you have to come with me. I think this is going to really work out for you. I think you’re going to have a lot of fun.” I think because I was her best friend, she agreed to this. We went tufting together, and it was so fun for her. She created her own rug, and we got to critique each other. We’re like, “You should use this color of yarn versus this color of yarn.”

We got to talk because it was a good amount of time that you were tufting there. So we got to catch up and talk about life, and she genuinely was really proud of the product she did as well. I was like, “Well, surely, if I had a great experience and Daisy had a great experience, other people will have a great experience too.” So I was looking for other outlets in Austin that had the same kind of structure that provide people this platform to get involved.

Turns out there wasn’t a platform. So I was like, “Okay, time for me to be creative and, I guess, start one.” And that was very daunting because at the time that Fuzz Lab started, I couldn’t even legally drink yet. I’m like, “What do you mean I have to build a business and start a whole entity?” But I think it was a passion for tufting and how great of a experience it was for me. I was never the greatest tufting artist, but it was because it was so simple to learn and it’s so fun for everyone else that really drove me to put the pen to paper for Fuzz Lab.

So Fuzz Lab first opened in a boba shop as a popup early last January, and it was supposed to start really small next to West Campus close to where I live, because I go to school close to West Campus. But it quickly picked up some momentum. Here’s a picture of our first customer. He’s actually my friend from a student organization. It’s Matt. Matt’s the one in the navy polo. Matt looks like a frat guy. He is a frat guy.

But here’s a text that he was going to come in and make his first rug, and that was the first rug he made. That was so cool. He did it. And I don’t think Matt has ever gone to a art class or pottery class unless he was forced to on a date event for something. But he had so much fun going by himself, and he told me he was so proud of the product he made and he still hangs it over his bed alongside with other really fratty decor, is this rug. Isn’t that so cool? And that was the signal for me that was like, if Matt can do it… All kudos to Matt. Matt is a very crafty man, but anyone could do it.

Just me and Daisy, we’re both very aesthetic people, we love aesthetic. But Matt is not the same. He don’t do this kind of things, dabble in this at all. And if he can do it, everyone can enjoy it. We soon picked up some momentum around May and June era, and I got to talk about the art of tufting on more official media programs and platforms. And that was really exciting for me because I get to explain to people this process of tufting that’s somehow different than all the other arts and craft class out here, which is like, you can do it even if you’re not traditionally artistically talented.

And that was the case. We get to see a lot of relationship foster and grow in the workshop, which is also really cool. On the right side, there’s two sisters. In the middle, there’s a company happy hour event. And on the right side, there was some friends that haven’t seen each others for months and they would get together and catch up. What I learned about tufting with people is that the length of time you’re tufting is perfect for a good friend hangout session.

It’s not too short like getting coffee or rushing to go to your next things. It’s not like a dinner and a night out that’s like you have to commit five or six hours to it. It’s like a good one-half hour to, at most, three hours that you can talk about life, get some good hot gossip in, and get a good catch-up in. So it was really cool for me to see a lot of other relationship replicate the models that me and Daisy had in that one hangout for their own journey.

So here’s me with the entities. Fuzz Lab have grown so much more than I could ever imagine. She has her own home now. No sharing home, no roommate situation with the boba shop. She has her own house across the street. But it’s just really exciting to see simply an experience I want to replicate for other people, be able to happen and have a concrete structure to it.

So if you want to ever give your artistic self a shot and give tufting a shot, we always welcome you to come to Fuzz Lab here in Austin. And here’s also I’m a reminder of, if you ever wanted to start something because you have such a great experience about it, just go ahead and do it, because I don’t know anything about business before I did this. I took the finance class this semester, so now you know, didn’t know finance back then at all. Don’t understand the accounting balance sheet. But if I was able to do it, you can too as well. So here’s our social and thank you [inaudible 00:07:09].

Hedy Zhang
Finance & psychology major at UT Austin. Co-founder of the Fuzz Lab.