Getting to know Stephanie and the luxury bed linen brand Josephine Home:
First of all, this post is somewhat overdue, apologies. I drafted it up last summer, then kept coming back to tweak it… and then I blinked and now here we are in February already. The mind boggles!
As we proceeded through lockdown last Summer, the very lovely Stephanie Betts became our next Guest Speaker via webinar in June 2020. Stephanie is the creator and owner of Josephine Home, a producer and supplier of high-quality bed and bath linen. As Stephanie describes them, these ‘unsung heroes’ of our homes, so often underrated and yet used every day, required a bit of the ‘luxury’ treatment.
Stephanie regaled us with tales of her background, starting in corporate law, but never giving up on her teenage dream of having her own luxury bed linen company. Confessing that her relentless obsession was with the experience and feel of the material, Stephanie also explained how history and provenance are also key elements, with all the craftsmen involved displaying skill, expertise, passion and pride in their work.
Then we had a detailed presentation of her beautiful products and the services that Josephine Home could offer.
Getting to know your business….
Please share with our readers how you, Stephanie Betts came to form Josephine? How did you get started?
The genesis of the business was an iterative process, made of a few combined experiences: the inviting perfection of my grandmother’s house in Brittany (she was, of course, called Josephine), the lack of choice for smart looking but comfortable linen when I set up my first student flat, my constant search for good linen and bedroom finishing touches like throws when I became a young professional keen to ‘nest’ and build a welcoming home of my own to greet me after a long grinding day (we know the kind of day!) …so, when I turned 37… I knew this would be now or never and began to do some proper research.
Having just lost my grandmother at the good age of 97, a day before her birthday, I was desperately missing her as we had always been so close. I had gone to Thailand to find an answer, and the advice was actually given to me by a monk who I met there, who told me to do something which would make me feel close to her instead of moaning about her loss. So as a fitting tribute to her, I decided to launch a brand which would be aligned with all the values she had tried to instil in me – and all of her numerous grandchildren: day-to-day touches of luxury grounded in provenance and sustainability, from a ‘farm-to-fork’ approach to food, to her systematic choice of long-lasting, beautifully made things. (You would often find her gardening in some really good but very old suits – I think I spotted her gardening with an old Chanel jacket once… her reply was that they were so well made that they were incredibly comfortable due to their cut, even when very worn – that comment made an impact on me: true luxury has to be made to last.)
It was going to be gardening or home making! I chose homewares imbued with my grandmother’s love of nature and her obsession with quality.
By this time, I had been living in England for a few years and had fallen in love with the British tradition of craftsmanship – from Scottish tweed to Savile Row tailoring – which was a perfect match for what I was trying to create. I made the jump to entrepreneurship whilst on maternity leave and ended up with a very extended maternity leave, two boys and a business.
Sorry…[laughing] its a very long introduction…but it was a long process, with a long gestation period – but the way we started has moulded the direction of the brand.
Who forms part of your team?
I am very lucky to have a very close-knit team – which feels like a second family. We all look out for each other and I hope that we can keep this feel as we grow. Our goal is to become a ‘B corporation’ – which I hope will preserve the ethos of our business for years to come.
Who or what are your biggest inspirations or influences within your own business?
There are too many to list but at the core:
- French King Louis XIV with his drive to build a luxury legacy for France has to be an inspiration behind our attention to the small details of everyday products, as they make all the difference between a mundane and elevated experience.
- My grandmother, who was born in 1903, still had that old-fashioned love of things well-made, made to last.
- Finally, Savile Row for the love of cut and detailing.
But on a day-to-day, I find inspiration everywhere: movies, paintings, nature, songs, all come in when you want to deliver an experience or convey a mood, rather than sell a product.
With all your knowledge of luxury sleeping spaces, what advice would you offer for a new designer starting out in the Interior Design industry?
I would always start with a paint that has some depth as it will create a beautiful canvas for your furniture and artwork and become the background to your life (or your client’s life) every day. I like traditional paints with a matt deep finish which changes with the light, so it brings out the room’s personality and creates an atmosphere, even in an empty room.
I would then keep small rooms small and not shy from dark colours which can create huge impact on a small budget (jewellery box effect), like a dark matt navy or burgundy or even a very deep green – perfect for a coat room, a small sitting room with a bar or a powder room.
For bigger rooms, I would always stay muted and gentle and bring the colour accents with furniture or curtains to avoid colour ‘overwhelm’.
Finally, I always like to work on a room keeping in mind the adjacent rooms and how the colour will ‘flow’ from one room to another, like a traditional ‘enfilade’ in big houses.
Not having a ‘colour jump’ when moving from one room to another is a small detail that top designers always get so right.
Who is your main customer type?
We are lucky to have a wide range of customers, from Interior Designers to retail clients and luxury hotels such as the Mandarin Oriental. We love the variety and we find that it helps us cross-fertilise our knowledge.
However, in retail, we seem to have more men than regular homeware brands and our typical customer tends to be discerning and well-travelled so we end up delivering linen all over the world, which is quite rewarding for us as we feel privileged to be chosen wherever our clients go.
We also have an oddly large proportion of celebrities (movies and music mostly) which never ceases to amaze us. Again, we are thrilled to be chosen by people who could arguably afford any brand they want in the world.
It is a great endorsement for us. We probably need to build the awareness of our brand to reach more households who are looking for good, long lasting quality – without breaking the bank!
Which product do you sell the most of?
Good question! Oddly our Super-size bath sheets (made in zero twist super fluffy cotton) seem to be a very popular choice as people have them monogrammed, as gifts. We had a client referring to it as a ‘marshmallow’!
This is a special colour we designed, injecting some taupe and lavender into a regular classic grey. We ended up with a subtly warm grey which goes, literally, with everything.
What is still your biggest challenge within your own business?
Our biggest challenge – no question – is marketing. We have never really done much marketing but as we are now growing online, we need to step it up, but without making the brand ubiquitous. The challenge for us is to grow a brand while keeping it intimate, personal.
We always meant to have an online offering but it took us a few attempts to be able to convey our passion for the feel, for the ultimate experience that our products offer on an online platform ( all this is so much easier when people can actually touch the products and there is no need for explanations then!). We still have work to do on this…but word of mouth is helping and our customer feedback seems to offer some good endorsements – I think that all our reviews are 5 stars. We want to keep it this way!
What’s the best advice you ever received?
Cash is king! Meaning if you want to control your brand in terms of quality, provenance and experience, you need to be the one funding it. Tough advice but true.
What are the key benefits for Interior Designers to be working with Josephine Home?
We work with a lot of demanding customers – and have done since the start due to our bespoke offering – so customer service is in our blood…
We aim to deliver a ‘turnkey’ service for the interior designers we work with, a seamless experience from the moment they call to the day we deliver their clients linen, beautifully labelled per room. We want it to be hassle free. This is why – we think – we get a lot of repeat business. Above all, we value relationships in business so our relationship with you means everything to us.
What has been the most interesting or enlightening moment for you, while working with an Interior Designer?
Too many to list here but some of the incredible moments included being ushered into an enormous hangar to equip a Boeing 747, while Jack Johnson was humming softly, rather surreally, on the surround sound system…
Another was turning up to an install to find David Beckham, drill in hand, adding some of his ‘finishing touches’. Another day in the office for my clients no doubt but pretty special to me! He was utterly charming, if anyone wants to know.
Did you enjoy your guest speaker appearance at Metier Rendezvous recently? What did you bring away with you from that?
I absolutely loved it. Thank you again for having me … I was really impressed with the quality of the network, the friendliness and openness of all participants and therefore how useful the platform is. It was a revelation and we hope to do more with you all in the future…
What is next for you / your business Josephine Home?
We need to build up our presence online while keeping a reasonably discreet profile – we want to enable designers as well so they can place orders late at night (with or without a glass of wine in hand!) and generally make life easier for all our clients.
We also want to launch the brand more formally in the US as we seem to be getting a lot of interest from US clients.
(I am brushing over lockdown and Covid-19 but focusing on this for a moment, I would highlight the need to choose better products, to consume intelligently and responsibly, and we are all for that! Our bedlinen will easily last 8-10 years so we hope that people will run a quick calculation to figure how they can save by buying better products. This is a feature that most clients did not care about a year ago but sustainability is now at the top of most people’s agenda and we are definitely seeing this trend shaping up).
In your view, what should no designer ever be without?
Optimism. You want to be designing happiness. Wonderful design makes people happy. I really believe that!
Getting to know you… and now to throw back the covers and discover the real Stephanie Betts, her inspirations, her recommendations and her own life’s little luxuries.
Did your upbringing inspire you to become a luxury homeware designer?
Very possibly. My mother was a painter and very talented at interior design. We always had lovely and slightly unusual homes as she would use unexpected textures like flannel on walls or unusual colours. I was also dragged mercilessly to all the fabric editors’ shops in Paris (Pierre Frey, Braquenie, Manuel Canovas etc…).
Tell us about your own home… or perhaps about your favourite room in your home.
I tend to take turns to do up or to tweak one room then another so each just finished room becomes the favourite :). One of my favourite rooms is definitely one of the smallest rooms of the house (which we painted in Railings by Farrow & Ball). We have mockingly dubbed it the ‘art room’ as it has a few paintings up but it is where I like to sit to read or call friends. The mood is very ‘New York State of Mind’…I used to live in NY – so it is nice to have a room which evokes the old place. It has a modern Ralph Lauren day bed in midnight navy leather and it also has the drinks trolley…now there is something which brings a room to life!
How would you describe your homes interior style?
Colourful classic. I think the Canovas influence from my childhood is still there…
What has been your biggest home extravagance?
Do I really have to disclose it? Assuming my husband won’t read this, it is probably our dining table – a Georgian gem, with fruit tree wood inlays, really delicate. I love it! A true best of British item.
And what is on your coffee table?
Ralph Lauren’s big retrospective coffee table book, The Times’ World Atlas, Fashion at Versailles by Laurence Benaim, Jardiniers de Paradis (which I recommend for anyone inspired by gardens) by Arnaud Maurieres and Savile Row by James Sherwood.
Who inspires you on the design front?
While Bunny was predominantly known for her stunning gardens, she had an amazing eye for elegant interior design as well. Lee had a strong unapologetically feminine style which was both bold and welcoming. Examples of Lee’s style can be seen here. Both these incredible women created rooms which made anyone feel at home instantly – there is a breezy happiness about both of their styles.
Lastly, if you had a blank cheque, what would you be splashing out on for your own home?
I think tweaking my bedroom (I am coveting two new side tables) and re-doing my kitchen are my next big projects. As we all spend more time at home, right now is a good time to bed down exactly what we want and how we want to live at home.
A wonderful and insightful talk: Stephanie spoke with so much energy and passion about her company, her products and her belief that creating a great home comes down to the smallest detail such as bedlinen, which could transform your quality of life.
To say the quality of her bed linen is unreal would be an understatement – and this is testament to Stephanie’s approach to her products and her business – you can feel the love and care that has gone into the linen. Josephine Home can match trims, and add personal touches to the product, creating bespoke finishes for your project. I think Stephanie is rather unique in her approach.
So, if you require a high end linen that is subtle and discrete, that will compliment your scheme, work hard for you and make you and your client’s home look good, and is affordable, then contact Stephanie either by visiting the Josephine Home website or emailing Stephanie and her team directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Metier Rendezvous is a peer support network for Interior Designers!
We provide day-to-day pro-active and friendly support for all our members.
Collaboratively, we believe in Community over Competition. We even share business ideas, tips and even brainstorm on projects together.
If you would like to join us in one of our webinars and have the opportunity to listen and chat with some engaging speakers like Stephanie, over a delightful brunch, then get in touch to find out how.
(The first brunch event is always FREE to newbies)