If you haven’t joined the cult that is linen-lovers anonymous, sleeping on pure linen bed sheets may be just the thing to sway you…
It’s a sensation Genevieve Rosen-Biller knows all too well, given she has made a career out of perfecting her range of 100% pure French Flax linen sheets under her Bed Threads brand. After scouring the world for pure linen bed sheets for her new apartment, Genevieve was forced to take matters into her own hands, quite literally, and what was once a side hustle is now a burgeoning business filled with endless possibilities and rave reviews…
“Since starting Bed Threads, there have been some incredible thrills — featuring in US Vogue was a particular highlight — but the fact that people entrust us with their sleep (the most important part of the day and the cornerstone of good health) is humbling.”
We loved chatting to Genevieve about the impetus to start her own linen brand, what it takes to create a sustainable, plastic-free, carbon-neutral company, and why her direct-to-consumer business model is the secret to affordable yet high-quality products.
Go to www.bedthreads.com
Tell us about your business Bed Threads?
First of all, thank you so much for having me on The Grace Tales alongside so many creative and visionary women. It is humbling to feature in your beautiful publication.
Bed Threads is a direct-to-consumer, online 100% French Flax Linen brand that offers premium bedding at a fair and accessible price point. Our signature product is a Bedding Set that includes two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet, delivered free (sans plastic) anywhere in Australia, the US, New Zealand and Singapore.
The impetus to start Bed Threads was accidental. At the end of 2014, my husband and I moved into a new apartment and after outfitting and decorating it, I was intent on investing in pure, 100% linen bedding. Linen is a natural-temperature regulator, which means it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter. It becomes softer and more comfortable with time and use, meaning you don’t have to replace it every year. Plus, it elevates any space it’s styled into, thanks to its relaxed yet refined finish.
I searched far and wide, online and in-store, and everything I found at the time came up short of what I was looking for— either I was forced to go over-budget, upsold into a bunch of extras I didn’t need or left with low-quality options to choose from. If I had a frustrating experience buying linen bedding, I thought other people must be having the same experience, too.
It took over two years to perfect our signature product — the pure, 100% French Flax Linen Bedding Set with two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet—and in August 2017 we launched, selling out of our first shipment in three weeks. This was exciting and also extremely validating. Originally, we had six colours and three sizes and offered bedding sets exclusively.
Two years on, we have 14 colours in our palette (two more are in the works!) and we offer a line of separates, too. Homewares and other categories are coming soon… so stay tuned.
What are the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur?
Since starting Bed Threads, there have been some incredible thrills — featuring in US Vogue was a particular highlight — but the fact that people entrust us with their sleep (the most important part of the day and the cornerstone of good health) is humbling.
It is a pleasure to serve our community — reading 5-star reviews and receiving a constant stream of positive customer feedback motivates me to do more and do better. I would take all the downs — and trust me, we have had it all from website crashes whilst on live TV to manufacturing issues ahead of Christmas — for the privilege to serve our customers and solve a consumer pain-point every day.
Your business is direct-to-customer — talk us through this strategy...
Traditionally, linen bedding was reserved for the elites who could afford it — and we are proud to say that Bed Threads is the most accessibly-priced offering in the market for pure, 100% linen bedding.
What makes linen so expensive is that it’s laborious and time-consuming to cultivate. It takes 90 or so days from sowing the flaxseed to harvest alone. Plus, the flax plant (which linen comes from) only grows in specific climates, and the linen fibre itself is inelastic and breaks easily. This means spinning and weaving machines must run at lower speeds, resulting in less linen produced per day.
Still, at Bed Threads, we believe that everyone is entitled to a beautiful home and that top-quality natural materials are for everyone. That’s why we made the decision to sell through our website exclusively (this enables us to cut out the middle man —wholesale is not part of our business strategy) enabling us to pass the savings directly onto our customers. Being direct-to-consumer also means we can control the customer’s experience at every touchpoint, from packaging to shipping to providing any additional service they might require. Since launching, we have solved many of the initial frustrations we experienced whilst initially looking for this product, and with no retail imperatives, we’ve been able to scale our business quickly and efficiently with agility.
Tell us about your signature flax?
Our signature flax linen is cultivated and grown in France by registered farmers. It is a 100% natural material meaning it is sustainable and biodegradable. In fact, we could have launched Bed Threads earlier if we went with a blend or a synthetic product—but what would have been the point of that? Nothing compares to the real thing.
Linen has a multitude of benefits—aside from looking beautiful, it is ultra-absorbent, moisture-wicking and anti-static, so you can say farewell to sweaty, sleepless nights. It’s light and breathable and yet traps in the heat as the temperature drops, so you remain comfortable without overheating. To truly understand the beauty of sleeping in linen though you have to experience it yourself.
What are your favourite colour palettes right now?
In early July we unveiled two new hues — Turmeric and Lavender that call to mind a 70s aesthetic. They are sunny and vibrant and fresh — I have the Turmeric Bedding Set and a Lavender Sheet Set on my bed at the moment, and it’s a real feel-good combination, especially in winter.
Talk us through your approach to sustainability?
As a lifelong vegetarian (now vegan) I take my personal responsibility to the environment very seriously. I shop local, avoid single-use items, walk as much as possible and invest in fewer, quality items that last.
So, when it came to launching Bed Threads there were a few non-negotiables I simply would not compromise on. The first was plastic-free packaging. Our linen is packaged in recyclable linen storage sacks (these can be used for groceries, washing bags or for travel) and if our customers have no use for them, they can send them back to us (we will cover all costs incurred) to recycle.
Secondly, the dyestuff we use to colour our linen is all eco-friendly and contains strictly no formaldehyde. Linen itself, as mentioned, is a fully sustainable material (it lasts decades and when it is time to retire, is biodegradable) and at Bed Threads, we want people to invest in one bedding set that will last them years and years.
Thirdly, when setting up Bed Threads, we elected to partner with Sendle, a registered B Corp and Australia’s first carbon-neutral delivery service. Recently, we have become a fully carbon-neutral company ourselves, which means we offset all the emissions we are responsible for. This is something I am very proud of.
Three time management tips?
I don’t have three… I am not really a procrastinator so my only advice would be to just do it!
Three tips for entrepreneurs?
-If it’s viable, partner with someone with complementary skills who you trust implicitly. My business partner is my husband Alan and the combination of our varied skills allowed us to propel Bed Threads forward in a way that simply wouldn’t have been feasible if we’d worked alone.
-If you haven’t started yet, but you have a kernel of an idea that just won’t quit—pursue it.
-Invest in the best talent you possibly can at every point. It might seem like a huge investment, but your business will not reach its full potential if you cut corners on the people you hire.
What are your tips for a good night’s sleep?
Probably not that 4pm coffee…! I switch off all tech at least half an hour before bed, and don’t bring anything work-related into my bedroom — not even office shoes or the bag I take to work, let alone my laptop—it is a clutter-free sanctuary. Regular low-intensity exercise helps, and of course, the pure 100% linen bedding I once dreamed of!