Artful living can be calming, invigorating, playful, serious and so much more. Few know this better than Liz Vehko, owner-partner of Denver’s Shaver-Ramsey. She is one of the lucky ones. Her work is her passion, just as traveling the world in search of exquisite rugs and textiles is a pursuit she lives and breathes.
Joining the firm in 1998, things aligned perfectly for the recent college student to become a partner within just three short years. Having explored political science, sociology and women’s studies, Vehko pairs that knowledge and her cultural experiences to assess the craftsmanship, quality and design of the pieces that ultimately find their way into Shaver-Ramsey’s impressive offerings. Her career has enriched her life immeasurably.
What surprises people about you?
That I am a partner in a rug store that has been part of the fabric of retail
in Cherry Creek North for 43 years and I am only 45. That I have been a partner since I was in my 20s.
How do people describe you?
Sensible, candid, passionate, organized, sensitive, determined.
Who do you most admire?
Favorite Denver metro restaurant?
Sushi Den and Barolo Grill would tie for my top choice.
What is your biggest fashion faux pas?
That I wear way too much black!
What is one thing that you absolutely can’t live without?
What was your last major purchase?
A long-weekend getaway to Scottsdale with my children.
What gadget can you not live without?
What are your hobbies?
Traveling, interior design, solving crossword puzzles, discussing politics, collecting shells, rare Persian textiles and antique ikat plates from Uzbekistan.
What one word describes Coloradans to you?
What is your favorite spot in Colorado to visit?
Aside from the many beautiful mountain towns, my favorite spot would have to be my neighborhood park, Cranmer Park. It is two blocks from my house and has such beautiful views of the Front Range. It holds so many great memories for me whether it’s the times I have watched my kids play sports there, the family picnics we’ve enjoyed there or the beautiful sunsets we have watched on summer nights.
Are you involved with any charities?
The charities I am involved in are one and the same as Shaver-Ramsey. The Eating Disorder Foundation, Denver Dumb Friends League, Reach Out and Read Colorado, The Global Down Syndrome Foundation and the Asian Art Association of Denver Art Museum.
What took you down this career path?
Serendipity really. I was just out of college and was looking to work a retail job specifically in Cherry Creek North for six months or a year before I would go to law school. Shaver-Ramsey wasn’t hiring but saw that I had worked retail since I was 14 and had worked at a store on Nantucket that had working looms and did hand-weaving. Paul Ramsey, one of the preeminent scholars on rugs and textiles in the country, was an amazing teacher and sparked my passion for delving further into the world of textiles and rugs. I started traveling and buying for the store within two years, which was so exciting. Then Carolyn Shaver, Paul’s partner, decided to retire, and that’s when the opportunity arose for me to become a full partner. So, ultimately, I never left after the six months that I thought I would be at Shaver-Ramsey and it is now 22 years later.
What intrigues you most about other cultures?
The sociology of the cultures that I visit is the most intriguing, the ins and outs of daily life, the interactions of people and families in their daily lives.
What is your favorite international destination?
Istanbul because it has so much energy and beauty. There is barely a place you can be in the whole city and not be surrounded by the beautiful views of the Bosporus Strait and Marmara Sea.
Who in your family most inspired your love of art and design?
My parents are both folk artists; my father is a carver and my mother is a painter. My mother is a master gardener and they have an interior landscaping business in New York City. They are both art collectors, which fostered my sense of aesthetic and beauty.
What are some of the ways Shaver-Ramsey interacts with the Denver community?
Shaver-Ramsey has always viewed itself as a pillar of the community and has opened its doors at no financial cost to innumerable nonprofits, charities and neighborhood groups to host events and meetings. One of the most beneficial was opening our doors three times a year to Cherry Creek Theatre to host live theater. We did this for six years, three times a year. We would move out all the rugs in our showroom and host 36 live performances, which over the years brought 20,000 people into our showroom. Paul Ramsey and I received a proclamation from the City and County of Denver for our significant contributions to the artistic and cultural landscape of Denver.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Enjoying a similar life to the one I lead now—one with my family, friends, community and Shaver-Ramsey.
What was your most exciting discovery on a buying trip?
A rare 17th-century blossom carpet fragment from a trip to Istanbul.
What has your co-ownership of Shaver-Ramsey brought to your life?
Shaver-Ramsey brings me to a place every day where I am surrounded by beauty.
Do you have any special advice for those interested in buying rugs/textiles for their homes?
Buy what you love, trust in your taste, and trust who you buy from!
Marge D. Hansen is a frequent contributor to Colorado Expression. Her articles appear in a variety of magazines and lifestyle websites.
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