By Joanna Goodman, CEO
On this, the two-year anniversary of our founder (my mother), Peggy Byron's passing, I've written a tribute to a true visionary.
Peggy started Au Lit Fine Linens with a passion for linens and a sincere mission to change the way people sleep. She certainly didn't start out with a burning desire to disrupt an industry or in search of the next great business idea. She didn't think good sheets had to be expensive or intimidating; she believed everyone should sleep in comfort and quality.
Most of us know the story of Warby Parker and how they up-ended the eyeglasses industry by cutting out the middlemen and simplifying the process of buying glasses. Their success has inspired a generation of entrepreneurs to do the same - including several in the bed linen industry. And that's great! We also strive to make it simple and convenient for customers to buy sheets, but it's not why we do this. We do this to change the way people sleep, not to change the way they shop.
We prefer to educate our customers, rather than limit your selection. We offer a variety of duvets and pillows, for example, because we want you to have the full story and be able to make your own informed choices. We think you can handle it.
We also believe in telling you where the cotton is grown and where it's woven (which determines how the sheets will soften and hold up over time); as well as letting you know the thread count, so that you can pick your favourite. We offer a range from 220tc to 1030tc- each one unique and marvellous in its own way. We wouldn't think of offering you only one type of cotton sheet to streamline the experience. Instead, we want you to browse our Thread Count Bar and request swatches that you can touch and feel, and then pick the one you love best. (The recent backlash against publicizing thread count underestimates consumers who may want to know what they're buying and sleeping in! Most of us don't buy food without first checking the ingredients.)
Discover our range of thread counts
There is such a thing as over-simplifying. Peggy insisted on more depth of product and knowledge. We still take an old-school 'mom & pop' approach to helping you solve problems, like offering custom sheets for deep pocket and oversized mattresses; custom bedskirts to hide your boxspring; the best pillow for a sore neck; the ideal duvet for women going through menopause; the best pillow protectors to protect against dust mites; a live expert at the ready to answer all of your questions.
To exclude any of those options from our customers' shopping experience would be a disservice. And we haven't even touched on the design options!
We make it easy to shop the entire look
My mom cut out the middle-man thirty-five years ago, before it was a trend. She went to Europe, ordered a few hundred metres of the best sheeting she could find, and opened a factory right here in Canada under her own brand name. She was vertically integrated and transparent before that was even cool. She wasn't trying to sell something fancy or exclusive, or to disrupt an industry. She was just trying to provide her customers with the very best possible sleep experience at the very best possible price. We're still doing that today, every day.
We don't just change the way you shop. We change the way you sleep.