From the basketball court to A Rugz Life: Aaron Allen’s unique Troy business

Published 9:09 am Thursday, January 4, 2024

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Troy resident Aaron Allen has been known for many things – especially his basketball career – but his business A Rugz Life is a unique, successful part of this entrepreneur’s life.

Allen grew up in Samson and was an All-State guard at Samson High School in 2005. He would go on to play college basketball at Bevill State Community College in Jasper. Eventually, he transferred to Troy University with the intention of walking on the basketball team.

While basketball at Troy didn’t work out for Allen, he eventually earned a degree in math, but upon graduation decided to lean on what he knew best: basketball. Allen formed LovHandlez Basketball Training, offering basketball training for youth, high school and college athletes in the area. Allen’s wife, Ashley Beverly Kelley, was a star player at Troy University – winning Sun Belt Championship MVP and All-Sun Belt in 2016 – and now plays professionally in Russia. She also helps out with LovHandlez.

Allen and his partner Addy Robinson take between 10-12 hours to produce each handmade rug. (Submitted photo)

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“All I really knew was basketball, so I started that in 2014,” Allen recalled. “It’s gone really well but then COVID hit (in 2020).”

Throughout his adult life, Allen has looked for things outside of basketball to make his own.

“Entrepreneurs will try this and try that and fail here and there and that’s sort of what I was doing,” Allen recalled. “I did everything from aerial drone photography, wedding photography, designing T-shirts and all of that goes back to images and art. I’ve done a lot of different things over the years – and I’ve always loved art – and all of that led to doing the rugs.”

In 2019, Allen stumbled on videos of people hand-making rugs and it appealed to him.

“I sat there and watched videos for like a year,” he said. “It took me a year to be able to get to where I felt comfortable to try it. I just started playing around with the rugs.”

At the same time, Allen was designing T-shirts and he designed some for Troy University student Addy Robinson. When she came to pick up her shirts, Allen said that Robinson noticed the rugs he had been working on and said he should be offering those to the public, as well. Allen asked Robinson to help him and soon A Rugz Life was born.

“One of the names we thought of was taken,” Allen recalled of coming up with the name. “So, I was sitting there thinking, ‘Rug, bug, oh the movie, ‘A Bugz Life.’ So, I checked to see if anyone had ‘A Rugz Life’ and we decided to go with that.”

Allen said along with Robinson helping him out, his sister, mom and wife are also helping out with the business, while he still operates LovHandlez, as well. While money is always a welcome sight for business owners, Allen said A Rugz Life is about more than that.

A Rugz Life can produce rugs featuring anything from real people’s faces to sports logos to comic book characters. (Submitted photo)

“When I started doing it, it was just for fun and even now that’s really what it’s about,” he continued. “It’s not like I’m making a million dollars doing this but the end result of seeing people’s faces when they get their rug is the coolest thing. It’s still fun for me, that really makes it satisfying.”

Each rug takes Allen and Robinson between 10 and 12 hours to produce, all by hand, but they can make any design from a person’s face to a sports logo to comic book characters.

Allen said that a storefront for A Rugz Life is something he would like to see in the future but he’s also planning new rugs, as well.

“I stumbled on a company a few weeks ago that’s based in Switzerland that have been going for like 30 years,” he said. “They do really big rugs and I didn’t know you could do rugs that size by hand. So, I’ve been studying that and they have courses to teach people how to do it. I want to take those course and that can be something we offer in the future.”