Tricia Rose of Rough Linen
Linen, Tricia Rose tells me, “resonated with things you can’t buy: the feeling of home. It’s kind of like finding your husband; you suddenly realize how wrong all the other men were. It’s that feeling of absolute rightness.”
Tricia was sixty-two when she founded Rough Linen, a fact that I find so wonderful. Retirement has always been a frightening concept to me; a time that seemed awfully boring, a waste of the wisdom gained over the course of a life. But starting a business during the traditional retirement years? That seemed thrilling.
Rough Linen began when Tricia was tasked with cleaning out her grandmother’s house in Scotland, a home that had been in her family for 67 years. Tucked deep in the linen closet Tricia found a natural-colored linen pillowslip. Someone had sewn a drawstring into the top, turning into a little satchel.
This discovery rekindled Tricia’s love for the fabric and the ethos it communicated — integrity, love, beauty, and home. She found a similar homespun-textured linen and made herself a bedding set of the material, and soon friends were asking if they could get one as well. With that, Rough Linen was born.
Tricia attended an all-girls school where they studied Latin and science. It was academically rigorous, seeking to prepare women for the changing world that awaited them. But this meant that the school chose not to offer certain types of courses – opting against music, art, and sewing for, at the time, these subjects seemed the antithesis of women’s empowerment. “It pleases me so much that this despised, womanly thing I always did outside school is my business now,” Tricia told us.
As a young woman, Tricia moved to London and began making documentary and corporate films with her husband, Stefan. Together the two built a TV studio and ran it successfully for more than thirty years. (The studio is still going strong today.) Tricia said that the best thing about making films was that they’d “get totally immersed in a subject, learn everything about it, and then move on.”
“Stefan did the editing, so half the time that he was busy, I was not. I did an awful lot of carpentry.” As Tricia tells me about each of the homes they had over the years, she lights up, and it’s clear that this is where the kernel of Rough Linen originated. She and Stefan lived in a Victorian loft behind Liberty in Soho and had their first two children there. Then they moved to a home in Regent’s Park with a beautiful garden. At one point they had a holiday house in the south of France — an old Napoleonic fort built in 1812. Years later, when they moved to California, Tricia bought a cabin right on the bay in San Rafael.
Tricia recognizes that Rough Linen’s community is comprised of people with a particular set of values, rather than a ‘demographic.’ “They are people who like to think things all the way through, who value what things are made of, who are not buying for the sake of it but rather making a choice. I think people who have my linen probably cook at home.” It’s a slowness of life and an integrity that binds those who love Rough Linen.
In the past year Rough Linen has created several new products to share with their community: the Touch collection of timeless clothing, waffle towels, alpaca scarves, and limited edition tablecloths and napkins in seasonal hues (moss, ink, fig, and spice).
When I ask Tricia how owning a company has changed her life she says, “I do enjoy seeing the increased respect in my husband’s eyes. He was very supportive and very proud. My children too. Somehow, with this, I’m regarded differently by people whose opinion I value.”
photographs courtesy of liz daly.