Find out from Sharon Patsiotis, the co-founder of one of our newest brands, Hale Mercantile Co, why linen is the ultimate luxury for those to hate to iron, how to look after it so it lasts for years and tips for how to style your table like a stylist this Christmas. What inspired you to start Hale Mercantile Co? It was really a love of natural fibre and also, I was really tired of ironing sheets at home. I’ve always really loved good quality sheets. I wanted to bring in something out of Europe that was done properly by proper craftsman, that was really good quality and the type of linen that you keep and that becomes vintage linen. Our linen is meant to look good as it is rather than you having to iron and look after it. There’s a real textured look and feel to it and it’s all pre-washed so there is no further shrinkage. There are a lot of linen companies on the Australian market at the moment, and all seem to have a fairly high price point, what distinguishes Hale Mercantile from the rest? Quality, and hence our price point. We’re one of the very, very, few linen companies that actually bring linen into Australia from Europe. Our linen is grown, dyed, woven and sewed in Europe. Nothing is done out of India or China at all. Are you saying that other companies might have linen that is grown in Europe but all the processing, dying and manufacturing happens in Asia? That’s correct. The analogy we use is that just because you are using good quality flour doesn’t mean you can make a good quality loaf of bread – there is a lot more to it. It is the same with linen. Just because the flax has come out of France or Belgium, that doesn’t mean a company is buying the best quality fibres that they can. Hale Mercantile’s Basix napkins in sable. What advice do you give to people who are trying to choose Hale Mercantile linen pieces to pull together a mixed bed linen or table linen set? We find most people in Australia like the neutrals, and use those as a base. Then we also provide the option of choosing from a lot of different colours for people to either coordinate with their interiors or to add to the base colours and mix and match. We have what we call our four core colours – light grey, dark grey, white and sable, which is like a sand colour. HMCo’s white linen, Ayrton, is powdery soft and chalky. With all the different ranges that we have, they’re all designed to work together. You can mix and match it. We also concentrate on having a very natural palette so that even with our more vibrant colours they really are natural tones so you don’t get that lolly look. That makes it possible to mix them quite a bit. What recommendations would you have when it comes to caring for your linen? We actually recommend that ours is tumble-dried. Tumble-drying brings good quality linen back to that supple softness. One thing you have to remember though is that linen achieves its softness through the moisture it retains, and when you tumble dry it, it should never end up bone dry. It’s not designed to do that. The Basix napkin is designed with a wide 2cm hem on all edges and have a beautifully finished mitred corners. The other important thing is to wash it with a good detergent. We recommend a liquid detergent that isn’t too abrasive like a wool or delicates mix. For Christmas you have done this very textured, light and bright collaboration with stylist Line Kay. Can you tell us about that collaboration? We love Scandi-style and Line is one of our favourite stylists in the world today. She’s a friend of ours and is Norwegian. We actually have quite a large presence in Norway and also in America and Canada. Line has constantly supported us and always does our styling from a Nordic perspective. Then we do an Australian take on our products as well. What would be your advice for styling your table with linen this Christmas? With the Nordic style of the shoot, we wanted to show that Christmas isn’t necessarily about having to have everything really structured and tight on a table. I know some people like that structured look and that’s great, but in Australia a lot of people like to have a barbeque say for Christmas. Our linen lends itself to a laid-back relaxed feel and that’s something we have tried to convey in the shoot. The textured nature of linen is perfectly paired with other rustic materials like timber, ceramics and hides. You can mix and match with the colours. We do melanges with our table linen. We have sixteen different napkin designs to choose from and we also do runners that you can. But with most of the table settings, we really encourage people to pursue a more rustic style incorporating things like aged metals, wooden item, so the texture really comes through. Visit us in-store to browse our range of Hale Mercantile Co linen.