Podcast: Harriet Mears & Molly Freshwater, Founders of Secret Linen Store

April 14, 2023 Sophie Colquhoun

For our latest podcast episode, we spoke to Founders of Secret Linen Store, Harriet Mears and Molly Freshwater!

In this episode, Harriet and Molly share with us how Secret Linen Store started and how it went from an idea to a business in just 6 months.

Plus, we talk about how they're innovating bedtime, how they stand out as an online business and they answer the very important question - how often should you really wash your sheets?

We hope you enjoy this episode!

Listen to the full episode below: 

Or, if you prefer you can read the transcript below: 

Sorcha O’Boyle: Now on the show with me today are the Co-founder of The Secret Linen Store who aside from being the brains behind one of the most beautiful bedding and homeware brands I’ve come across are also sisters. Molly Freshwater and Harriet Mears welcome to the show, how are you both?

Co-founders: Good, nice to meet you. Yeah, very good. Thanks for having us.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Ah listen it’s my pleasure so if you could just say who you are just so the listeners know whose voice belongs to whom.

Molly Freshwater: Hi I’m Molly, nice to meet you.

Harriet Mears: And I’m Harriet, oh we could have really confused things then couldn’t we and thrown our voices or got each other to answer, but no.

Sorcha O’Boyle: No, well that’s next time. So listen, I’m really, really, genuinely delighted to have you on the show because you’re actually one of those brands that I’ve kind of have looked at for quite a long time and always been interested in, so I’m delighted to have here. So could you tell us a little bit about where the brand came from, how was it born, who came up the idea, how did it happen?

Molly Freshwater: Well, I’ve been making bed linen for a very, very, long time now, about 25 years, maybe even more.

Harriet Mears: I think it was 25 years, ten years ago.

Molly Freshwater: [T/O 00:01:17] It can’t quite be, but it’s getting on for 30 years. So in the beginning of my career I made bed linen for retailers that I worked for in-house and then I started a small agency where I was supplying the high street with bed linen under their own label. Harriet joined me in that business which was brilliant, she did, just had her children and decided that she would like to work part-time so she came and worked for me and we quite quickly realised that the business that I had, we weren’t really in control of that, we were at the destiny of our suppliers and our customers. So we decided that we’d start a retail brand of our own, talked a lot about different ideas and came back to the fact that we were experts in bed linen. Harriet had a background in marketing and we had actually worked together in different companies before that and we thought let’s go for what we know best, what we can add the most value to. I’m a textile designer so I’m very passionate about fabrics. Harriet knew what to do with them and how to sell them so we sat down, had some encouragement and found a factory that were willing to help us and off we went. So yeah.  

Harriet Mears: Yeah, I think it was six months from the idea to launch. It was very quick.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Really? Wow! Was that intentional or did it just kind of happen that way?

Co-founder: No, I think it was just after we’d decided to do it and the momentum started building and we got some money in, it was like, “Right okay, quick, let’s just make it happen” and I think we just ran with it and before we knew it, we were up and running.

Co-founder: I don’t really remember, it’s all a bit of a blur.

Co-founder: I think also because it was something that we’d done before for other people, although it was our own business, and it was our own brand we were so used to what we were doing that it came quite naturally. So, it didn’t take, apart from the actual brand and agreeing on the name and how it was going to look, which was obviously extremely important to us, and getting that right was probably harder than the actual product because we had to agree on that. So, yeah.

Sorcha O’Boyle: You come from quite an entrepreneurial family I think, don’t you?

Co-founder: Oh yes. Yes, we’re four girls and our, there’s a sister in between the two of us who also runs, well has I think three of her own businesses now and incidentally has actually been working with us for the last four/five years and is actually taking on an even more active role and moving forward.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Oh wow!

Co-founder: And our youngest sister works with her, so we all work in our own businesses or for each other.

Co-founder: Absolutely, yeah. But our parents aren’t entrepreneurial at all. So complete opposites so I don’t know where it came from.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Really, that’s really interesting. So what did your parents do or what do they do?

Co-founder: So our dad was a teacher and he had four children so he had to move on from that because four didn’t pay the bills.

Co-founder: Didn’t pay the bills.

Co-founder: So he ended up in HR which is kind of, it’s not teaching but he’s a people person like that so he ended up being an HR Director for a really big international company. So he became embedded into a world that didn’t particularly suit him, but because he was on the HR side of things we didn’t really see dad.

Co-founder: No.

Co-founder: Because he was working really hard when we were growing up especially after he’d left being a teacher so, but I wouldn’t say entrepreneur, it was any way that I would describe our dad or our mum.

Co-founder: No. No, no and mum was obviously busy bringing up four kids and you do whatever sort of bits and bobs, jobs she could find in between those.

Co-founder: Very important.

Co-founder: When she had a spare moment of time but yeah, they, yeah, definitely very different to us.

Co-founder: But also, very supportive and very encouraging so they’d basically let us decide our way and do what we wanted to do. So yeah.

Co-founder: I don’t know where it came from though.

Co-founder: No.

Co-founder: That we all decided to run businesses and yeah.

Co-founder: Anyway, here we are.

Sorcha O’Boyle: And were you always close as kids, growing up?

Harriet Mears: No. But Molly and I there’s, although you wouldn’t know it of course, there’s quite a big age gap so there’s seven, nearly seven years between the two of us. So by the time, when I was small Molly was sort of off with her friends being a teenager and then by the time I got to being a teenager, Molly had left home. So we didn’t actually, although we grew up in the same house when we were small, we didn’t really sort of grow up together, together. I was closer in age to the other two sisters, one of which I loved and one which I hated, but we all love each other now.

Sorcha O’Boyle: It’s funny isn’t it how your relationship as adults can be so different to your relationship as kids.

Co-founder: Yeah. Absolutely.

Sorcha O’Boyle: But yeah [T/O 00:05:39]

Molly Freshwater: I think when Harriet came along and then not that soon after, but number four, I was off doing my own thing and they were just an annoyance.

Harriet Mears: Annoying.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yes.

Molly Freshwater: Having this small baby and you know, so yeah, we didn’t really, Harriet came to live with me when, how old?

Harriet Mears: 18.

Molly Freshwater: 18, so I would have been in my mid-twenties but again we didn’t really see each other that much.

Harriet Mears: No.

Molly Freshwater: Because we had different social lives and we came and went so, yeah.

Harriet Mears: I think of all of us, we’ve always got on, we’ve never not got on like some of the others we’d not got on with, but we’ve always had a good sisterly relationship. She’s definitely the eldest.

Sorcha O’Boyle: I don’t think you ever stop being the older sister, do you?

Harriet Mears: No, you never do.

Molly Freshwater: As we say though within the business, I think it’s changed. It has changed, Harriet’s much cleverer than I am.

Harriet Mears: That’s not true.

Molly Freshwater: Well, I like.

Harriet Mears: At different things.

Molly Freshwater: Yeah. I like, I’m definitely a designer, I’m a creative person through and through I’m not methodical I don’t like spreadsheets, I’m very sort of 100 miles an hour coming up with ideas. Harriet’s much more methodical and much better at planning things. I always joke that if I didn’t have Harriet then I would just have loads of what I spent and then didn’t know what to do with it. But I think our relationship has changed and I respect her because within the business I know that I would make some silly decisions. Harriet’s much more sensible than I am so, it works well but we always say that Molly is the elder and Harriet is in charge and that’s definitely how it is.

Harriet Mears: Sometimes.

Molly Freshwater: Apart from when I disagree.

Harriet Mears: Apart from when she disagrees, exactly.  

Sorcha O’Boyle: And tell me, how do your business relationship effect your sisterly relationship or how do you divide them. What’s your kind of approach there?

Harriet Mears: Well, I actually think if you’re going to go into business with somebody it’s better to do it with somebody that you’re blood related to. Because, if things don’t go well and you have difficult decisions to make or you disagree on something you can disagree. You know, we’ve had moments where we’ve screamed and shouted at each other, had a little cry, had a little hug and then gone, “Oh do you what? Let’s just get on with it”. But I think if you work with somebody that is even, you know, a really good friend then you don’t always say everything you really think, or you might go home and have a little mutter under your breath. But, with us we can always clear the air, we don’t always agree, but we can always clear the air, we can agree to disagree on things and respect each other’s opinion and at the end of the day we’ll still buy each other a Christmas present, mostly.

Molly Freshwater: Yeah, I think that it’s difficult at times and there’s naturally been a separation. We spent Christmas together this year, there’s absolutely no talk of work at all at Christmas.

Harriet Mears: No.

Molly Freshwater: But, yeah as Harriet said you can get it out in the open and you don’t have to take it home with you if there are any issues. But, it’s all about respect at the end of the day and I think we both respect each other. We’re never going to agree on everything, we’re human beings, we’re just not. We are completely different so it’s just making sure that you respect each other and I think it comes down to experience as well I think we’d have done this twenty years ago it would have been much worse but I’m, I think we’ve both old enough now to know that it’s not personal, we’re, we’ve both got opinions and-.

Harriet Mears: We’re passionate.

Molly Fishwater: We are really passionate but also, I think we’ve done really well because it could have been very different and I’ve heard lots of stories about people that it didn’t work out so well, friends and sisters and, you know, family feuds. We know about many famous ones where things have gone wrong, so I think we’ve done well but I think sometimes you have to have a word with yourself and say, “Do you know what? This isn’t worth it, just let that go” or etc. But I think we’ve done quite well.

Harriet Mears: Molly actually stays at my house once a week but we’re pretty strict not to talk about work on that evening.

Molly Freshwater: I have to cook.

Harriet Mears: We have dinner. Yeah, she has to cook for the rest of the family and yeah, we leave work at the door and it’s just family time.

Sorcha O’Boyle: That’s good, yeah, it sounds like you’ve got really clear boundaries on that kind of thing. So can you tell me, what did you want to achieve with the business when you first set out?

Co-founder: I think one of the main things that we wanted to achieve was a solution for customers to make buying bedding and bed linen easier, more straight forward, give customers choice and at a good and honest price and I think that’s what we set out to do. It was ten years ago now so the marketplace did look very different then and we’d be doing something a bit different from everybody else and our first things that we decided to do was think about fitted sheets and talk about pattern and talk about how we could do things differently and the business has definitely evolved from those days. But yeah, it was to create a stylish solution for people to dress their beds beautifully, have great quality, understand where things came from, put a face to the business and just make a buying experience that was good for our customers.

Co-founder: I think the customer first mentality has always been really, really important for us and it’s very difficult. A lot of the time with internet businesses we set out from the beginning we would not be a business that doesn’t put their phone number on their website, we will be contactable, we will be helpful and you know, I think we’ve definitely achieved that, we’ve got an amazing customer service team that we’re very proud of with somebody heading it up whose actually been with us since-.

Co-founder: The first year.

Co-founder: Nine years she’s been with us.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Really.

Co-founder: Ten years really and she, yeah, she heads up that team and she just gets it. She’s just got our Secret Linen Store blood in her veins, and she knows exactly how to deal with the customer and how to, you know, make a customer feel good and that’s yeah, she’s a real credit to us we’re very lucky.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah absolutely and how do you help the customer to find that product that’s right for them?

Molly Freshwater: There’s lots of different ways. We spend a lot of time looking at our website and our, the customer journey through that and making sure that it’s clear, we’ve got lots of information on our website, we’ve got sizing information, we talk samples.

Harriet Mears: About [Inaudible 00:11:24]

Molly Freshwater: Samples and as Harriet just said we are contactable and I think that’s something that is really, really important. So we talk, we shout about the fact that we are here, got people at the end of a phone or a live chat who can help you and we do get a lot of people that do contact us with even just little questions like how do I measure my curtains for my window and we’re able to help them. So, I think that that’s really important that we can help our customers in that way to make the decisions and yeah as Harriet just said the having a sample service, that’s something that we can do and we can help the customer to decide whether things go with their paint, we’ve, all of our customer service team have all the paint samples from every single paint manufacturer, [Inaudible 00:12:11] so they’re able to on the phone, help people to match the bed linen and that’s what people want so.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I’m really glad that you brought up the samples actually because I wanted to kind of touch on that because it’s quite unusual for a business like you to do samples. Why did you start doing that?

Co-founder: Initially as an internet business we were worried that if the product is a very tactile, touchy feely product, you know, it’s quite a thing to decide to sleep in something that you’ve never touched before. We started with samples right in the very beginning, didn’t we?

Co-founder: [T/O 00:12:41]

Co-founder: I think because we wanted to make sure a) for colour and to help people match the colours in, to make sure we didn’t get a huge amount of returns. So, yeah, it seemed like a no brainer. We were able to sort of get these little swatches. We thought its also a beautiful part of the experience to receive a lovely pack in the post, with just lovely samples and a little message in there. So yeah, just, I don’t know I don’t think we ever didn’t think about doing it, it was just there from the day one.

Co-founder: Yeah. I can remember having them in my, we didn’t share an office together initially, we still don’t I’m, live in different parts of the country. But I had the samples in my office, and I can remember having to pick out like two or three at the very, very beginning when we thought, when It was just the two of us. So, yeah it was from day one, on the [? 00:13:24]

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah, it’s a really, really, really good idea. Because I think, you know, with samples you think, oh maybe paint, you know, kind of, that kind of stuff is a sample thing, but you are right, it really cuts down on your returns which is just, gets rid of a massive headache for you.

Co-founder: Yeah.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Are there any kind of little innovations like that that you’ve done that you’re really proud or you think that have worked really well for you?

Co-founder: Oh gosh, there’s probably millions. It’s funny you have to actually think about things and remember things, it’s harder to think. I mean we’ve done lots of things in the last couple of years from a sort of sustainability perspective.

Co-founder: [T/O 00:13:55]

Co-founder: And the changes that we’ve been able to make to try and make things greener. Just tiny little things like, you know, making things just a tiny bit smaller to avoid wastage on a certain pattern or changing buttons, changing packaging. Lots of those sort of little things that have happened organically. I’m trying to think of anything else that’s sort of specifically innovative other than, you know, better fabrics and sustainable materials that we’ve done.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Maybe something that was part of becoming the B Corp Certified because I think you’re still working on that [T/O 00:14:23]

Co-founder: Yeah, well, you say that but actually one of the things we’re really proud of is the fact that when we went to do our B Corp application it was almost like we’d built our business for it.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Oh amazing.

Co-founder: Like it, we didn’t really have to change anything which was incredible. We didn’t really have to change anything did we?

Co-founder: We didn’t [T/O 00:14:39]

Co-founder: We had to write a lot of policies, we had to sort of document a lot of things that were already pretty much happening in our business but it was a great sense of achievement and a real, you know, it felt like a pat on the back for us to then go through that process not really knowing anything about it and realising that actually within the DNA of the way that we set up our business and our values and our people that actually pretty much we’re ticking all the boxes already.

Co-founder: Absolutely, I think one of the things that we’ve done from very early on in our business is actually treat it like a much bigger business and a lot of things that we’ve done over the years, I think quite a few people are surprised at how we approached some of them, especially things like HR even when we’re a much smaller team we’ve behaved like a much bigger team. Because we’ve always, that’s always been really important to us. It was a reasonably straight forward process there was nothing in there that we had to do completely differently or change anything drastically that we’re doing, because we were doing what we needed to do.

Co-founder: Yeah.

Sorcha O’Boyle: And your factories are in Portugal, is that right?

Co-founder: Yes.

Sorcha O’Boyle: So why did you choose Portugal?

Co-founder: So as I said at the beginning I’ve been working in Portugal for many, many years and I have also worked all around the world making textiles but for us it was really important that we had, we’re hands on, as in you can visit frequently. It is, I think, the world’s best place for making bed linen. We are in an area that is famous for bed linen with some great factories and relationships that I have built over the last thirty years are the reason that we’re here today. We wouldn’t be anything without our factories and our suppliers and our relationships in Portugal. So I firmly believe that we’ve built a business based on relationships and good quality and product and I think that’s really important. Having worked in big retailers I was very keen that when we started our business that we would behave differently so we don’t beat up our suppliers on price, we work with them, we come to solutions. We don’t make unreasonable demands, we don’t shop around for different products we concentrate on making sure that we use the right factory for the right thing. That, I think is really important in how we’ve grown, and we’ve got a group of people that develop product, we call them factory friends, we’re very keen that we work together with the factories and that they’re, as I said, we just wouldn’t be anything without them, so it is [Inaudible 00:16:48]

Co-founder: Yeah and you know, even before sustainability was as big as it was we always knew we didn’t want to be shipping things all across the world, we wanted to be as close to home as possible and sadly manufacturing of textiles in the UK is not what it used to be so it felt like the closest place that we could work and produce stuff without having to venture too far afield and ship things.

Co-founder: Yeah absolutely, absolutely.

Co-founder: Around the planet.

Co-founder: Absolutely and that’s not to say that we’re not still trying to improve that process and we’ve got a few projects where we’re looking at making things even more sustainable than they currently are but in terms of moving production from Portugal, there are no plans to do that it’s definitely the right place to be doing it so.

Co-founder: And they do the best, the Pastel de nata is just the best [Inaudible 00:17:32] you can probably get, so happy to have those every time.

Co-founder: That’s the main reason.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah, I mean if you had just said that I would have been with you [Inaudible 00:17:42]. Yeah, and even from looking through your website kind of touching back on what you kind of said about the ethos of the brand, you know, making it a good place to work, you know and all that. It really jumps out at me on the website that everyone should work somewhere where they enjoy being and where they feel valued. So I wonder could you tell me a little about how you manage your team and how you create that kind of environment within, in a small brand, because I think that is really, really interesting.

Harriet Mears: So as Molly said we definitely invested heavily in HR from the beginning. I think, it’s really hard isn’t it when you sort of need, you almost need to ask our staff what they would say but I think from our perspective and the feedback we get there’s definitely, you know, people say it’s a very family culture, it’s very, we’ll all quite close, everybody’s quite friendly. We have lots of social things that we do together. We are, I think, 88% female.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Wow!

Harriet Mears: Which is, well we quite like it which I think makes a difference as well. I shouldn’t probably say that that might be a bit of a sexist thing to say but I think in terms of organising things and that common bond is very, very, good. I think we, we listen, we take feedback, we have a very open-door policy. Molly and I sit in the same room as everyone else, at the same desks, we don’t shut ourselves away in an office. We make sure we’re emptying the compost bin and we roll our sleeves up, we get involved in everything that needs to be done and encourage everybody else to as well and I think that there is very much a vibe of people will go out of their way to support each other and help each other and I feel like a bit of a fraud if I say that we feel entirely responsible for that. I think it’s also sort of happened organically just from the great team that we’ve managed to employ and everybody’s attitude to work. We have some really clear values within the business and we, not measure people on those values, but we look at all of our team and we think about whether they are demonstrating our values. We interview based on those values; we want to make sure we get the right people in the team. So I think it’s a combination of the right people, a good HR programme led by somebody that’s really for the people all the time which is fantastic and really balances that, you know, that hard work with gratitude and we big people up with kudos prizes, there’s a lot of congratulations to everybody for working so hard and it’s not for everybody working in a business that’s growing quickly and is fast paced so I think just recognising each other, recognising the hard work everybody puts in and making sure that we always say thank you, I think is it’s the main thing.

Molly Freshwater: Absolutely, I also think that trust comes into it. We, I think we leave our staff to get on with things. We do manage them, we do have a management system in place, but we let them work from home two days a week, which is working for us at the moment and that is obviously post Covid.

Harriet Mears: Post Covid.

Molly Freshwater: It’s always a challenge and we have to make sure and step back and be clear on what we’re asking people and make sure that we’re clear on directions and we’re constantly talking about how we can improve. But I think it’s really important to communicate to your team and just make sure that they feel like we’re all, we are all one.

Harriet Mears: All doing it together.

Molly Freshwater: For everyone to understand where we’re all going and where we’re trying to get to, so we try and do.

Harriet Mears: Yeah, got our quarterly update tomorrow actually where we’re going to have pizza and get everybody together.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Good. Good stuff. And tell me, because I know that your charity engagement and your charity initiatives are important to you as well. So can you tell me a little bit about the initiatives you’re running, why did you choose to work with those organisations and what are you, what are you proud of having done.

Co-founder: So we have decided that we, well, we’ve always been a charitable business but in the last couple of years we’ve made a bit more of a pledge to support different charities. We wanted to support a bigger charity and also a very noble charity. So we chose Choose Love as our bigger charity to support. We think that what they’re doing is absolutely incredible, supporting, especially at the moment obviously with what’s happened in Turkey and Syria. But because we make beds it kind of felt right that we work with a charity that supports people that don’t have one. So they are looking after displaced people globally and again we didn’t want to focus on any particular area or just any particular country, so by working with them we are supporting anyone that has lost their home or their livelihood because of war or natural disaster. So that felt right. So with them we actually have given them a sizeable amount of money over the last two years. At the moment we have a product that 100% of the profits – three products actually - 100% of the profits go to them. So we’re working quite closely with them, we’ve been involved with them, we know them, we’re working with them, we’ve had a great photoshoot with them and we’re done a few smaller campaigns with them like a little sample sale, we did something specifically for the Ukraine a year ago. So yeah and we did for our Black Friday event that we had the year before last we gave them a percentage of our profits from that. So we’ve worked for many years now and will continue to do so. The other one is a bit more random but I love seaweed I always have from quite a few reasons, we great up by the sea, you know, going down to the beach with our grandma after school and I just remember the seaweed and I love, always loved it and I thought when we started our sustainability journey everyone’s talking about planting trees, I decided that seaweed should be where we focus our attention. So we found a local chap, his name is Steve, so we call him Seabed Steve and he is single handily regenerating the coastline between Selsey and Brighton by growing Sea Kelp in his garage in fish tanks and then rewilding it back into the sea once it’s big enough. So we’ve been working with him, very, very different to Choose Life, just this guy and his car, he even goes to the seaside every evening to fill up cans of seawater so he can feed his seaweed in his garage and we love that. So again, we give a percentage of sales and products which are called Selsey and Brighton to him and he’s coming over next week.

Co-founder: Yeah.

Co-founder: To chat to our staff about what he’s doing so we’re supporting him and helping him to invest in things like, he did a camcorder so he can video himself doing the, planting the seeds. So very, very different charity to support but it feels like it’s a great thing to do and there are so many benefits to the seabed being regenerated not just for the environment but for all the sea life as well.

Co-founder: We also have in-house, we’re just about to launch our volunteering programme within our team and our staff will be able to use three days a year to go out into the world and volunteer and we’re hoping that we might be able to give Steve some support for some of his project, with time as well as financially. So yeah, it feels good to be doing something locally and something that we can actually see going on. So they’re our two charities very, very different but both feel like they fit with what we’re doing.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Yeah, that’s fantastic, I love the seaweed one, that, it’s something so different but it’s great.

Co-founder: The other thing that we’ve been looking at is using seaweed to dye fabric as well so we haven’t quite got there yet but we’re looking at natural dyeing and how we can use that within our product range as well, so hopefully one day we will have a seaweed dyed bed linen, that’s my dream. You heard it here first.

Sorcha O’Boyle: And so aside from seaweed dye what are you most excited for the future of the brand what does the next couple of years look like for you?

Harriet Mears: From my perspective we definitely have ambitious growth plans, but we want to make sure that everything that we’re doing is focused around our mantra of making things better. So I’m very excited about the things we can continue to do in terms of fabrics dyeing, innovation, anything that is going to make our business more planet friendly and the excitement that we get from the team as part of that. We’re very lucky that most people that we’ve employed - because they share our values and our passion for the things that we want to do well - they’re all very excitable about doing things better and doing things greener and particularly in the product department we’ve got some real talent in there and people who are doing things themselves at home and then coming to work with their ideas of just the small things that we can do, win and change and it isn’t, we are a small business, we don’t have a huge amount of budget for those kind of things but there’s still so much that we can do just chipping away, little bit, by little bit and I think that’s what I’m most excited about because that’s the thing that makes me feel proud of what we’ve done. You know, we’re selling bed linen to people, it is a need and everybody wants to feel great and amazing when they get into bed but ultimately Molly and I are also passionate about the impact that our business has on the wider planet. So I think for me, that’s probably what I’m most excited about and just sort of sharing that journey.

Molly Freshwater: Yeah, absolutely the same for me. But some of the projects that we’ve got that are ongoing, that are not going to make a difference to the turnover of the business, are the ones that are most exciting. We’ve just made napkins out of our waste product from our curtains and that’s one of my big ticks that we’ve actually used the waste. So we’re looking at things from a different angle, making sure that we don’t leave behind pots of fabric that could have an end use. So napkins don’t necessarily fit with our bedroom brand but why not? We all have breakfast in bed sometimes so, they’re a breakfast napkin. But we’re working with some people that will hopefully help us further using our scrap to make beautiful craft and one-off pieces and looking at how we can use that in the factory. So that’s really exciting and as we said before about dyeing and natural dyeing that is still a challenge commercially to find a way that we can dye and bulk fabric. There’s lots of people at the moment that are making very exciting colours from natural products but we are on the hunt for the right partner to work with us in commercial dyeing and then hopefully shipping to the UK in the most sustainable way that we possibly can so we can have a product that’s carbon footprint is very, very, very, low and make sure that we’ve got that offer for our customers because we feel like that’s an important thing to do.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Absolutely. That’s brilliant. And finally, my most important question I think for both of you. Clean Sheet Friday or Clean Sheet Sunday?

Co-founder: Sunday.

Co-founder: Friday.

Harriet Mears: We don’t agree, and we never have which is quiet a good thing. For me Harriet that is, it’s a Sunday thing. It is getting myself ready for the week ahead, Clean Sheet Sunday, I know it’s going to be my best night of sleep for the week because Clean Sheet night is always, I don’t think anybody could argue that when you put clean sheets on you sleep better than you ever do any other time. So for me it’s Sunday night being refreshed and ready to face the week on a Monday morning.

Molly Freshwater: Yeah, and for me it’s Friday because Saturday morning for me is such a wonderful experience to not have to get up, although I do always get up really early, so Friday for me. But I have a confession to make.

Harriet Mears: Have you changed it?

Molly Freshwater: No, I haven’t changed it, but I now only wash my sheets on a fortnight.

Harriet Mears: Yes, I do.

Molly Freshwater: Since we’ve, we have been doing lots of investigation and we actually have a survey about washing and we’ve obviously been doing some investigation into washing and how good it is for the environment and we all know that it’s very, very, energy intensive. So we have moved. I’ve been a every week bed linen washer for the last 25 years, so. It’s okay, I’m okay with it. I am away a couple of nights a week as well so it’s obviously easier for me to justify it but yeah, I think it’s important that we think about what we’re doing, and it is actual quite nice to not have to wash it every week.

Harriet Mears: Yeah, it is, it is. There is a calculator on our website, on our blog, which anybody can use and there’s some questions, slightly personal questions in some instances, but it will give you some advice on how often you really do need to wash your sheets and yeah, it’s a revelation.

Molly Freshwater: Yeah.

Harriet Mears: I used to be a weekly washer and now I’m not and I don’t feel guilty about it now. That’s good.

Sorcha O’Boyle: Okay, brilliant well listen, we’re leave it there and anyone listening go checkout the calculator and figure out if you actually do need to change it once a week. Okay listen, thank you both so much I’ve really, really enjoyed chatting to you and yeah, thank you.

Co-founders: Thank you. Really lovely to meet you. Nice to meet you.

Sorcha O’Boyle: You too, you too. That was Harriet Mears and Molly Freshwater from The Secret Linen Store. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Industry Leaders Podcast and don’t forget that you can catch up on all our previous episodes wherever you get your podcasts. That’s it for now, so from me and the team at More2, take care and buh-bye.













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