Interview with Summerhouse Linen Founder and CEO - Robyn Macdonald
WHY DID YOU START SUMMERHOUSE LINEN?:
An interesting beginning. Firstly, it's been on my bucket list for over 20 years. Recently, I was living and working up in Hong Kong and diagnosed with stage iv cancer, so promptly returned home to New Zealand for treatment. I was given a poor prognosis of 3 months to 2 years. Quite overwhelming news as a 55 years young woman. I battled with what to do next; to surrender and let it be, or fight and live against the odds. I choose to live fully until the end, no matter when that may be. So one year ago I made the then very brave choice to live my heart's desire. Starting Summerhouse Linen seems like a crazy prospect when you’ve been told your life span may be limited, but it was in that very action I believe I was telling my body and my brain I am here for a long time yet and I will die an old lady. So Summerhouse Linen began. And I haven't slept better in ages.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT SUMMERHOUSE LINEN?
We are a New Zealand based luxury bed sheets company disrupting the traditional ways of doing things in the industry. We create the highest quality bed sheets imaginable while keeping both the environment and our customers’ wallet in mind. All products are designed in New Zealand, using the highest quality fabrics in the world and crafted in small batches in Vietnam by true artisans with a combined experience of over 100 years in the textile industry.
SUMMERHOUSE LINEN VALUES:
Summerhouse Linen represents to me peace, beauty and harmony, balanced with time honoured traditions. It's a way I can transport myself to the far corners of the world every night. The linens are grounded in unique designs, heritage handcrafted tradition, small batch and artisan production using the best fabrics we could find. Summerhouse is fresh air dried linen, the smell of freshly cut long grass, blue skies, traditional techniques, from scratch, slow living in peace, flowers, We are inspired by the nature around us. For me, I wanted to live good years and as close to nature and what I love as much possible whilst still being able to work, so I wove the two concepts together - that is the soul of Summerhouse Linen, We are trying to be kind to the planet: - All fabrics are OEKO-TEX®, origin traced where possible and doing the least damage to the planet.
SUMMERHOUSE LINEN FABRICS:
Our production is not perfect yet, it’s still a balance between affordable price and quality. Most of our fabric fibres come from France and Egypt then woven in Italy and hand crafted in Vietnam. All our teams are small batch focused and small producers. Some of our cotton and linen is OEKO-TEX® but not origin traceable.
Compare apples with apples and our Italian woven fabric products are the best value in the world. You would expect to pay upwards of two to three times our price if you purchased a similar quality product from Europe. We know this, as we did our research. We cannot name the comparable products but take a look at top end European linen houses. We can keep our costs lower because we are a small producer with lower overheads.
WHATS NEXT FOR SUMMERHOUSE LINEN?
We have many plans, our small linen range is selling well from our website. We have some homewares in production such as aprons, tea towels, napkins. The Dots range has been popular and we want to extend custom colour orders and also extend our range of colours. Our next project is to offer our creative services and small products to Interior Designers for custom design. A printed and online wholesale catalogue for retailers to make orders with their own private website login. We also intended to offer this to small luxury hotels, but maybe with the Cover-19 situation around the world this will be on hold. Then another exciting development - we are working on , lovely new designs for bolts of printed linen, and have been researching other heritage fabric printing traditions around the world such as block printing.