Born in Iran into a dynasty of antique Persian carpet dealers, Ben Soleimani grew up in London, where his family moved after the Iranian Revolution. Mansour, the family firm, flourished, earning a royal warrant from the Prince of Wales in 2002. “I knew the carpet business like the back of my hand when I was a teenager,” says Soleimani.
At 16, he left Mayfair for Los Angeles to launch Mansour in the United States, introducing his own designs and investing in the development of Melrose Avenue as a design district. After a period partnering with Restoration Hardware to work on its rug business, Soleimani, now 48, set up an eponymous design company, featuring a full line of home furnishings as well as his signature opulent rugs.
His line is one of the first, he says, to offer the quality of a high-end professional design center, usually available only to interior designers, at what he calls “real prices.” “There are no middlemen,” he says. “I do all the design, and we run a lean business.” The contemporary, richly textured collection is assembled both overseas and Stateside, using “the best leathers from Italy, linens from Belgium and wools from New Zealand.”
The first showroom opened last November in LA, where Soleimani, a passionate polo player, lives with his wife and two children; New York will follow this year.
What is the one thing you have to do every day to stay sane?
I like to take a good long breath and reflect on how lucky I am. Every problem has a solution, as long as you have your health and family. Sometimes that can help you to reset.
What is your biggest annoyance at work?
Leaving things unfinished. I like to close chapters and move to the next thing. I like to see progression.
How long should a meeting last?
Not longer than an hour.
Do you prefer e-mail, phone, text or Slack?
I’m a phone guy. I like to call, discuss facts and angles, make decisions and move on.
What would you tell your younger self?
Be more patient.
What was your first job, and did you learn anything from it that’s influenced your career?
Working for my father and being given responsibility at a young age is probably what made me who I am today. That, and traveling when young. I went to 10 schools—that built me.
Where do you do your best thinking?
I have an old club chair that I sit in in the early morning when I wake up. I drink my coffee and go through e-mails and prepare for the day. It’s my comfort zone.
What’s one adjustment everyone can make in their lives to be more successful?
Never feel sorry for yourself. Don’t be a victim.
How do you manage your e-mails?
I probably get 500 a day, so it’s a challenge. I go through them all and answer them. It’s the price you pay for wanting to be involved.
What’s your typical daily commute?
About a 40-minute drive, which is longer than I’d like. I hate wasting time in the car. I schedule calls so I can be productive.
What’s your daily driver?
A Cadillac Escalade.
What’s on your desk?
Just what I need that day—so it’s clean.
What’s your ambition for next year?
To achieve my goals for this company—opening a New York store, expanding, growing where we need to. A new company is like an infant—you have to give it a lot of attention.