This month marks an important milestone for Au Lit: it's our 40th birthday! This anniversary got us thinking about where we came from, how far we've come, and where we're heading. We invite you to take a walk with us down memory lane as we relive and celebrate each step of our company's journey.
Frustrated with the lack of quality sheet options available in her hometown of Montreal, Canada, 39-year-old Peggy Byron decides to open her first store on Rue St. Denis. She calls it Boutique Au Lit, and offers only pure cotton sheets from Europe as an alternative to the treated polyester sheets that had saturated the market to that point.The days and nights are long as a sole entrepreneur and single mother to her daughter Joanna, but Peggy perseveres, confident that others will be as passionate about good cotton sheets as she is.
With her retail store booming, Peggy decides to create her own line of sheets. She flies to her first trade show in Italy and orders a few hundred meters of fabric and some lace from Switzerland. Back home, she rents a large warehouse and hires some sewers, confident she’ll figure out how to oversee a factory of sewers and operate a wholesale business. While many other companies have transitioned their manufacturing overseas, we are proud to still make everything right here in Canada (and we still employ two of Peggy’s original sewers!)
Our original factory in Montreal
Our very first team of sewers
After more than a decade of success in Montreal, Peggy embarks on a big move: she and her daughter, Joanna, head west to Toronto and open a brand new retail store on Mt. Pleasant Road. The new store, which they call Au Lit Fine Linens, becomes a bedding hotspot in North Toronto. To celebrate the grand opening in Toronto, Peggy decides to rebrand her favourite signature sheets, and her bestselling 220 Thread Count Cotton Percale collection becomes the iconic Hotel Collection. The Hotel sheets go on to become Au Lit's top seller for the next 25 years (now known as our bestselling Essential 220 TC Percale!)
With business thriving, Peggy and Joanna decide to open an even bigger store with a much broader product offering. They move to a beautiful new location: a 6,000 square foot, two-level space on Toronto's famed Yonge Street & Manor Road (the current location of our flagship store). They expand their line to include bath and towels, bedroom furniture, lighting, accessories, and loungewear.
This is a big year of transition for Au Lit, with many branding and marketing initiatives launched that still remain our core focus today. Our iconic Thread Count Bar is created, where customers can feel the difference between our range of 220-1030 thread count sheets; we create our company's mission and slogan (“We change the way you sleep"), and we launch our revolutionary new line of pre-washed linen sheets called The Lavato Collection (once again, ahead of the curve in bedding trends).
With the encouragement and vision of two long-time millennial employees, Au Lit steps into the world of e-commerce and we launch our website. After spending a decade and a half serving the local Toronto market, we're thrilled to expand our customer base into all of Canada and the US. AuLitfinelinens.com is born.
After a long battle with breast cancer, Peggy passes away and her daughter, Joanna, and son-in-law, Miguel, officially take over, carrying on their mother's passion and legacy.
Our 39th year in business is the most challenging of our entire history, as we navigate and pivot our way through the global pandemic. In March, our flagship store is closed as part of a province-wide lockdown, and remains closed off and on well into the spring of 2021. (We’re still closed!) Joanna makes an important decision to continue bringing in new product offerings, but with travel and trade-shows off the table, she creates her own collection for the times: The Easy Living Collection, a line of pre-washed fabrics made of 100% natural fibres at phenomenal prices, which targets a new, younger market.
Au Lit celebrates 40 years in business! This anniversary is one of both reflection and forward-thinking, an opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come and map out our vision for the future. We’ve gone from a team of one (our fearless founder) to a diverse and talented team of 20+ and we can’t wait to share with you where Au Lit is headed next! Stay tuned…
Au Lit's First Bestsellers! Circa 1984