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[Interview] An insightful conversation with the Founder of The Secret Linen Store

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with the founder of The Secret Linen Store, a brand renowned for its high-quality, sustainable home textiles. From humble… View Article


[Interview] An insightful conversation with the Founder of The Secret Linen Store

In this exclusive interview, we sit down with the founder of The Secret Linen Store, a brand renowned for its high-quality, sustainable home textiles.

From humble beginnings in textile design to leading a flourishing business, our guest Molly Freshwater shares her journey, inspirations, and the values that drive the company.

What is your background?

My background is in textile design, which I studied at university. After completing my degree, I worked in a bed shop in Nottingham, which was really just me trying to prolong my student days – I really just stumbled into bed linen retail by accident. Over the years, I’ve worked for various high-street brands, including a significant period at Next as a downstairs textile designer. I also worked with Feather & Black, which stemmed from my earlier job at The Iron Bed Company.

Eventually, I started my own sourcing company, creating bed linen for high-street retailers like John Lewis. I’d built good relationships with suppliers in Portugal where the linen was made back then, and in fact, we still use those suppliers today.

Where did the idea for the business come from?

Over a cup of coffee! Harriet (my sister) and I realised that the industry was changing rapidly, and the business model of being a middleman for high-street retailers was becoming less sustainable. We wanted to create high-quality, beautifully designed bed linen directly for consumers, We had some encouragement from Adam Black, (whom we had worked for before) and that’s where it started!

We started with a small collection and built strong relationships with our manufacturers, the same suppliers in Portugal, which allowed us to manage production costs and maintain high standards. This collaborative and adaptive approach helped us grow the business into what it is today.

What inspired the name ‘The Secret Linen Store’?

The name ‘The Secret Linen Store’ reflects our aim to offer something special and slightly hidden, a gem that people would discover and cherish. We wanted our customers to feel like they’ve found something unique and high-quality that isn’t widely known yet.

Tell us more about your product range…

We specialise in home textiles, focusing primarily on bed linen, which includes 100% cotton, linen-cotton mixes, and embroidered items. We also offer filled products like pillows and duvets made from various fillings, throws, cushions, towels, curtains, nightwear, and recently, baby and child bedding.

What sets us apart is our commitment to quality and design, working closely with our factories to create beautiful, durable, and comfortable products. As I mentioned, we’ve just launched a baby and child range, which includes cot bedding, throws, and blankets. We’re also preparing to launch a new table linen collection in the autumn.

You mentioned sustainability earlier. How important is this to your business?

Sustainability is at the core of our business. We use responsibly sourced natural fibres such as cotton, linen, and hemp, avoiding harmful materials like bamboo. Our packaging is minimal and eco-friendly, and we continually explore better options. Our bedding is made to order which reducing waste and ensures freshness.

We also ensure that every piece of fabric is used creatively and efficiently, minimising waste. For instance, offcuts and remnants are repurposed into smaller items like cushion covers or even accessories. This not only reduces waste but also allows us to offer a wider range of products. Our ability to think creatively and adaptively ensures that we make the most out of every fabric, reinforcing our commitment to sustainability.

We’ve been B Corp certified for a year now, which is a testament to our commitment to ethical practices and environmental responsibility. We work hard to ensure our products are made in factories that uphold high-standards, and we’re constantly exploring ways to reduce our environmental impact. Infact, we’re about to release our first impact report which will highlight our ongoing efforts and achievements in ethical business practices.

What has it been like working with your sister Harriet, and how has this dynamic influenced the business?

Working with Harriet has been an incredible experience. We complement each other perfectly because we have different skill sets. While I handle the creative side of the business, focusing on design and product development, Harriet is more about strategy and numbers. This balance allows us to cover all aspects of the business effectively. We have a lot of respect for each other, which is crucial in maintaining a productive and harmonious working relationship.

Having a business partner who is also your sibling means we can address any issues directly and efficiently without bringing them home, which helps maintain a healthy work-life balance. Our shared vision and trust make it easier to navigate the challenges of running a business. I would wholeheartedly recommend working with a sibling if you have a great relationship and complementary skills, as it can be both rewarding and effective. However, it’s important to clearly define roles and respect each other’s contributions to ensure a smooth partnership.

Our other sister, Rosie, joined the business last year as CFO. This has brought another level of expertise to our team, further strengthening our ability to manage the financial aspects of the business while maintaining our creative and strategic focus. Having Rosie on board has been a significant asset!

Despite your growth, you still handle design yourself. How do you balance this with running the business?

It’s definitely a challenge, but I love it. Designing is my passion. Day to day, I lead our product team to ensure we continue to innovate and produce beautiful items. Although my schedule is packed, I always make time for design because it’s such an integral part of who we are and what we offer.

Looking ahead, where do you see The Secret Linen Store in the next five years?

We’re ambitious but mindful of maintaining our quality and ethos. We plan to grow steadily, expanding our product range and exploring new sales channels, including online marketplaces and more retail collaborations. Our focus is on sustainable growth that allows us to stay true to our values while reaching more customers.

We are also exploring other markets, considering international expansion as a viable option. In addition, we’re looking into working with various marketplaces and other shopping channels. There’s potential for pop-up stores or other innovative sales channels beyond the traditional e-commerce space we currently operate in.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business, especially in retail?

Go for it – but be prepared for the highs and lows! Running a business is incredibly rewarding but also very demanding. It’s essential to have a clear vision and a good support system, whether it’s a business partner with complementary skills or a strong team. Most importantly, stay true to your passion and values, as they will guide you through the challenges.



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