I have been very open about my struggle and disillusionment with clothing. I absolutely LOVE fashion, and it frustrates me that my options are often limited. At the same time, it pushed me to research and hunt all over the world (through etsy) for small businesses who are making a difference in our world. During this search I found one of my new favourite companies, not PERFECT LINEN. Rather than focusing on making the biggest profit possible, not PERFECT LINEN is looking to make the best quality product produced in a sustainable way to ensure their customers are the happiest they can possibly be.
not PERFECT LINEN will bend over backwards to ensure your needs are met, and every piece they make is absolutely stunning. I have replaced almost half of my wardrobe with five pieces of their clothing (two dresses, two tops, and a pair of pants). I love that I can grab anything from their line and looked pulled together, and that their clothing does not take much effort to look beautiful. As their philosophy says, "the beauty of linen is that it is not perfect". I wholeheartedly agree with this, and I am so honoured to share their story with you.
Tell us a bit about how not PERFECT LINEN started… what pushed you to open your own business?
It may be the same story like everyone else that it was always a dream to create a valued product/brand as an expression of myself, but it was easier to know what I need to do as I had my mother by my side who has been working with textile since my childhood. She has been making clothes for local ladies for years and I have seen how much heart she put in it and what high quality she produced. And I have always wanted the world to see her work. not PERFECT LINEN has started with the deep wish to make handmade quality items from the linen fabric of our local manufacturers and only a few people – me, my mother and father. We have been making items and father has been delivering them to the post office. It was just small family activity which now is little bigger but still small in all the ways.
not PERFECT LINEN is a family business – why? Who all is involved?
Now we have the whole family working here and it is 100% a family business. I stepped away from producing items and see myself as a creative person in the family. Just a month ago my sister joined us and now is responsible for custom service. My husband ensures that all bills are payed on time. My mother is still making items, teaching new tailors/masters, and is responsible for the quality of all items we make. My father is still responsible for logistics. Of course we have few tailors/masters from outside to help us, but we already consider them as our family.
How do you navigate the relationships between family & work?
It seems that there is no line between work and family anymore. We talk about work all the time and we are not trying navigate between the two because we love what we do, and we always want to make best quality items and provide best custom service for our clients. We always have family gatherings to discuss any issues, make any decisions, or to make proposals for improving our work or the service we provide. The family business is our strength as we all have one aim and we all care equally about what we and others do. We have never worked just for money and our family decisions are based not on financial indicators but on the satisfaction of the customer and it would be very hard to come to such decision if we were not family members. Can you imagine anyone else getting up at night to help the customer to track their order?
Why did you decide to work only with linen? How do you select you linen providers?
Linen has always been favourite fabric not only because it is natural, eco-friendly and has little impact on our Earth, but also because our country has deep traditions on growing flax and manufacturing it. Flax has been grown in Lithuania for a long time and we have deep traditions in using it our everyday life. Lithuanian linen has been known, and is still known, as one of the best linens in the world. It means a lot to us to share these deep traditions with other people around the world. We work only with local linen manufacturers as we want to support small and local crafters.
Your philosophy is that “the beauty of linen is that it is not perfect”. Why is that so important to you?
The beauty of linen is really because it is not perfect. Linen gets wrinkled and it has uneven texture in the fabric, but that is how it looks the most beautiful - it looks so natural in its wrinkles and is so easy to wear. We suggest our customers do not iron linen and let it be as natural as possible. Imperfection is sometimes so perfect.
You recently shared on instagram that you had the opportunity to expand your business to accommodate the high volume of orders, but you chose to stay as a small family run business. Can you elaborate on why you made that decision?
Our main family rule on production is that we pay maximum attention to each item we make and it really takes time as we cut each single item by hand and we make them by hand. We double wash items after we make them and double check the quality before packing it. It gave us pleasure to work for a customer even it takes longer. When we started to make items for retailers who were very interested in our products we felt pressure in timing and quantities, which lead to not having as much time to look for quality and it seemed that we were starting to lose the pleasure in the whole process. Then one day the whole family agreed that it was not we have been dreaming of and we still want to make what we know best, but enjoying every process. So the decision to stay small and independent was not hard at all as we unanimously prefer slow living, accurate handy work, freedom of making choices and pleasure to serve our customer.
It was also mentioned that you keep the name of the person who’s order you are working on taped to your sewing machine. Why is the customer the most important thing to you? What started that tradition?
The tradition came at the time when we were making items for retailers. Our tailors had gotten used to making separate items in separate colours, sizes and lengths. One day they got the same 20 linen dresses to make, and after that day our best master tailor came and said that she felt like she was in a factory, making same item for 2 days. So when she got an exceptional item, a customer which needed to be customized, I stuck a paper to the sewing machine that said "this item is for Mary from NY". She said it was just magical as she had imagined that Mary what she will look like in the dress and it was so fun and easy to make the dress for “that Mary from NY”. Even though we are almost never taking orders from retailers, our people got used to this tradition as it helps imagine the person whom you are making the item for. When it goes from hand to hand (for example: from Simona to Mary) it is more sensitive and more meaningful of course.
What inspires you?
Family, relationships, kids, nature, travels, new people, new places - all good things that are around. We have never followed fashion trends and we make items we like and feel comfortable in.
What is your ultimate goal, both personally and professionally?
My personal ultimate goal is to express myself fully in my activities, to be good mother to my kids and to be a good person for others. Professionally I am obsessed with being the best in what I and my family/team do – to make best quality products and to provide best custom service. Everything is about the customer and their maximum satisfaction. I read every single review of each customer and if I had an opportunity I wish I could deliver every single item to the customer myself to see the eyes of the person who has trusted you with their choice.
How do you define success?
My success is to feel free while creating and to feel and know that you have done something important for others. In professional arsea it means to make your customer happy. Big thanks/cards/greetings from our customers make me feel successful woman.
How do you find balance? What does balance look like to you?
It seems that I still have to learn how to find balance in life as it is not my strongest point. I still work too much and still do not pay much attention to what I eat, how much I rest and what my day looks like. This is the thing which is on my list to learn as I understand that balance in everyday life is essential to stay productive.
What do you feel is the most important thing in life?
Relationships, self expression, health and freedom.
What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?
The same advice heard a hundred times – dare to start, think out of the box, go out of your comfort zone and work hard.
Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?
If you have something in you that might help others to make choices – it is a great pleasure to share but it is always a risk as it is you and your thinking/advices might influence other’s lives.
How are you trying to make a difference in our world?
I am trying to be good to others and to raise my kids to be good people in life and I think that besides such small things like recycling, using earth friendly goods, saving resources (our family uses electric car and try not to waste food or water) and giving part of our profit to charity – humanity is the most important thing to make our world peaceful and ready for other generations.