Picture this: 2009. I have just finished remodeling my beloved cabin on the water, I love my work making documentaries and corporate films with my husband. In my spare time, as always, I sew.
I have always enjoyed hunting down rare and beautiful fabrics, especially linen, my obsession. One day I find a natural linen, quite heavy, with a homespun texture which is achingly familiar to me, exactly like the family linen I inherited through my grandmother. Straight away I know what I want to make: a duvet cover, for rustic comfort which takes me back to her stone cottage by the sea, always cosy, smelling sweetly of tea and coal fires, and representing everything nurturing and stable and orderly to the five-year-old I was.
I buy twelve yards, wincing rather at the cost, but the duvet was everything I wanted and more. It tapped into a deep yearning for something timeless and elemental, a nostalgia for simplicity and a sense of rightness, hard to convey. I just knew I slept better under this rough, fragrant, wholesome linen than I ever had in my life before. Yes, linen is expensive, but it is also a humble fabric…
I took photos (as if I had been preparing all my life for this!), my husband made me a little website, and I launched this mustard seed of kitchen table enterprise, like many women before me. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew I loved it and believed in it. The first day I had ten orders, more the next.
It is our customers who have driven this growth, a community created as much by shared values as an aesthetic, though both are important. We believe our choices matter in the larger picture, how we work, how we live, what we wear and eat and consume. Rough Linen has always been low-waste, only tissue and ribbon wrapping from the very beginning, no plastic.
Ten years on, 2019: Rough Linen is now an airy, skylit workspace beside the bay, with a double-volume studio/showroom and a warehouse with a frivolous pink resin floor - well, we are an all-woman team! We have carefully built up a group of skilled seamstresses and cutters, as well as all the design, web support and admin that a dynamic business like this requires. I love coming into work every day, what kind of gift is that? We have had the privilege of making a business the way we want it to be, paying a fair wage, flexible to accommodate families’ needs, with the benefits and stability we believe everyone deserves.
What have we learned? Selling is easy when you believe in your product. There are so many people out there who love the simple beauty of linen, and it is our deepest pleasure to share with them. It is not limited to any particular demographic, more like a community of values, people who choose carefully, who enjoy good things, and are satisfied when they have found what they want.
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