Mathilda Wibom Westerberg and her husband were on their honeymoon with their baby daughter staying in a boutique hotel in Mallorca after a hectic few months. Arranging a wedding and becoming parents in the space of six months was understandably tiring, and the whole family needed a rest. Surrounded by Juniper trees, the family slept like babies. Why? They agreed that the bedsheets were the most comfortable that they had ever encountered.
After locating the sheets in Palma City, Mathilda was unprepared to fork out for the incredibly expensive bed linen. She did, however, have an idea. What if she could create her own luxury bed sheets? This is when JUNIPER was born. The Stockholm based company specialises in creating the highest quality bed sheets imaginable, drawing on textile artisans with over 100 years experience. They are also committed to sustainability and selling their sheets at a fair price, making them accessible to a wider audience.
“It is incredibly soft to the touch, retains colour better than regular cotton, is durable, and breathes well. It is also really light and has a beautiful, almost shine-like effect to it as the light bounces of the fabric.”
Now we wanted to find out how Mathilda did go from newlywed to company CEO, and so, on a frosty cold December afternoon in a corner cafe located on St Eriksplan in the middle of Stockholm, we sat down with the founder to get to know not just her lovely self, but also to learn more about her success journey.
“Almost all ideas are 95% about execution and 5% about the idea in itself. If you work harder than everyone else, that will show.”
With a masters from the London School of Finance and a thesis on e-commerce in the luxury retail market, she had plenty of background knowledge. But Mathilda still put in the leg work to make sure her business would flourish. She started by doing the one thing that so many of us skim over when we’re thinking about starting a new project. She did her homework, by researching, reading articles and talking to people in the business. Mathilda admits that she’s still got a lot to learn, but there is one way of thinking that keeps her absorbing new information. Mathilda tells us, “You have to be curious, and try to challenge the status quo” which JUNIPER certainly has.
They only use the top 1% of cotton on earth, a species called Gossypium Barbedense (popularly referred to as Egyptian Cotton) which sets them apart from standard sheets. From this cotton, they create a sateen weave with a thread count of 500 which makes for a spectacular fabric. Mathilda says, “It is incredibly soft to the touch, retains colour better than regular cotton, is durable, and breathes well. It is also really light and has a beautiful, almost shine-like effect to it as the light bounces of the fabric.”
JUNIPER bedding also has added benefits that make it easier to make your bed and keep it tidy. For example, each duvet cover has corner ties that allow you to attach your quilt to the sheet itself. It’s little details like these that make using the bedding easy and lead to a perfect night’s sleep.
Of course, the production process hasn’t been without its hurdles. Mathilda notes that the very first batch of bedding they made had to be returned to the factory. “That was a tough time, and it almost felt like we would go bankrupt before even getting off the ground.”
As well as manufacturing issues, Mathilda is also required to juggle family life. She is open about this struggle, saying that running a business has a real impact on everyone concerned for a number of reasons.
“I am still not taking out any salary but instead re-investing everything into the company to try to grow more. Next year I am hoping to be able to give myself at least a small salary” says Mathilda. “Running an e-commerce store requires a lot of attention. Customers want to be able to contact you at any time of the day and as my husband is rather involved we also discuss JUNIPER a lot in our spare time.”
Mathilda has become an expert in her own business and wears many hats at once. From doing her accounts, blogging, social media or customer service there’s always something that needs to be done. “I could be working 200 hours a week and still not have time to get everything done,” she says, “so I try to focus a lot on prioritising the right things.”
It’s easy to see how new businesses can fail in the early days, especially with all the hard work that is required for very little in return. We asked Mathilda what keeps her motivated to power through the hard times. “I am a fighter,” she says, “so I partly have this quality as an instinct, but my husband has played an important role, he pushes me to work even harder when things are tough, and he is also great at giving me support on business-related topics.” On top of that, Mathilda knows that her bedsheets are worth shouting about. “I have a product that I believe in 100%, and that creates value for people.”
With the new year (and decade) in full swing, people everywhere are feeling ready to make their business dreams come true. New mums are especially inspired to find a career that works for their lifestyle and starting a business from home is often their first port of call. Mathilda advises that talking it out with friends is a good place to start if you’re feeling a bit lost. “It teaches you at least two things. First, how to pitch your idea, because it might be the best idea in the world, but you still need to be able to pitch it. Second, they will give you feedback, some of it will be great, some you can probably disregard, either way, you will learn.”
Mathilda also advises taking time to research existing business models out there, find out how big your potential market is and how much of it you can realistically capture. But above all, she believes hard work is what makes businesses successful. “Almost all ideas are 95% about execution and 5% about the idea in itself. If you work harder than everyone else, that will show.”
Here at YCB Magazine, we have been road testing their luxury bed sheets and it feels as though we’re staying at a luxury hotel! Browse the collection for yourself: www.juniperofsweden.com.