Can you provide us with a description of your professional career?
I started my career in textiles as a graduate trainee recruited by an Irish linen company, which provided me with a comprehensive year’s training in all aspects of textile production – spinning, weaving, dyeing and finishing luxury table linens. The restaurant linens were soon joined by bedroom and bathroom goods and we supplied an ever-growing list of five-star hotels in London, the UK and internationally.
What inspired you to create Tradelinens?
Tradelinens was created out of a burning desire to be the go-to company when luxury hotels sought the best quality in commercially viable bed, bath and table linens. While other companies had warehouses of stock to sell, we took a different approach, preferring to listen intently to a client’s needs first and, if necessary, create the product from scratch to suit clients’ needs.
Who has been your greatest source of inspiration throughout your career?
Inspiration is continuous and often driven by the last, current or next project we are involved in. Our clients are always redefining what premium hospitality is and pushing innovation, which is infectious. Ultimately, though, the supply of the correct luxury textiles for a project is what we do and what we are the best at. It’s such a vital part of the five-star experience – they come into physical contact with our bedding products for the best part of eight hours a night, and they play a vital part in creating and setting the entire mood of a property.
How do you approach your projects?
With an entirely open mind in every single case. All I can say is, after 34 years in the business, when you think you have heard it all, you haven’t! The focus on every project is to do everything possible to ensure all the key client expectations are met, and where possible, exceeded. That is what we do best.
What has been your biggest accomplishment to date at Tradelinens?
My biggest accomplishment is a collective accomplishment across our business, to keep up with the ever-growing and changing demands of a luxury five-star market. What was considered ‘right’ 10 years ago, is not what is seen as ‘right’ today. When you have a reputation of being the best at something, ‘staying up there’ will always be a huge accomplishment to sustain. We’ve grown a lot in the last 10 years and have new, talented and dedicated members of staff, all whom are determined to keep us in this top position – where we belong.
What has been your most notable project at Tradelines?
No single project stands out, but the variety in what we have done over the years has been both challenging and extremely diverse. This includes anything from the very largest hotel projects like the Principal London to very special individual client jobs, from royal palaces to the most exclusive small boutique hotels. No two projects are ever the same, none are ever too large, none too small, but all with their own challenges to be met.
What is the most common recurring request you get from your clients?
Without a doubt, it’s the fact that all our clients have a wish to be different, yet also expect everything to be available for next day delivery – even on the most bespoke of products. Some of the goods we supply can take up to four or five months to manufacture and deliver. We live in a world where everyone expects everything immediately, but beautiful things take time and patience, and our clients’ expectations need to be tempered with the lead times on production and the two need to be understood.
When it comes to selecting hotel linen, what do you believe is of the utmost importance?
Everything hinges on making the right choice, first time – the final decision is the client’s and it has to the right one for them. Right for their budget, right for the look and feel of the hotel, and right for the years ahead. There is no room for a one-size-fits-all approach in the Tradelinens book. There is so much hype and myth surrounding linen. We cut through this to get to the right decision. The different thread counts bandied around in relation to the quality of luxury linens can be massively misleading. In the end, they are just numbers. Much more important is the quality of the yarns, the finish and the make-up of the bed linen.
How does sustainability and provenance play a role in Tradelinens’ products?
Sustainability and provenance are central to who we are at Tradelinens. We were delighted to be accepted into the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2016 – the first time a UK trade linen business has become a member of the global scheme. We’re proud to carry the BCI label, but it’s not a badging exercise. We made a commitment to ensure an increasing amount of our cotton is ‘better cotton’ and we continue to do that. We’re using this position to try and positively influence other suppliers too as we have a collective responsibility to ensure that production of our items does not adversely affect the livelihoods of those that make them and the planet as a whole.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the textiles industry?
Our greatest challenge is to ensure that the production of textiles follows a responsible and ethical code so one of the world’s most precious resources, water, is used wisely. In our world, ‘throw away and replace’ is the norm. Cotton uses a great deal of water and is often grown as a crop where water is a scarce and a precious commodity. We, as an industry, need to ensure that products, especially cotton products, are made well and built to last – to be designed to withstand many wash and dry cycles, and to deliver to the end-user the true value they deserve.
What can we expect to see from you over the next year?
We will continue to work hard at the forefront of the luxury linen sector. We aim to be the movers and innovators with a keen eye on the commercial viability of beautiful products, marrying longevity with luxury for many years to come.