The reason why I started Read The Label

Maybe it was no coincidence that I ended up here. One of my earliest memories is of my parents’ workplace and their large, soft, fluffy blankets. You could say I was born into this industry. Three years before I came into the world, my parents started a textile company that imports textiles from all over the world to restaurants and hotels around Sweden and which they have run for over 30 years. They have always had a penchant for good quality and whether we were sitting in a restaurant or staying over in a hotel, they were quickly there with the hand to feel the linen napkin in the lap or the sheets at the headboard. And I remember how my childhood home was full of towels, duvets, and napkins in different colors and qualities – all the product samples lived with us. It was perhaps not a coincidence that my parents started a textile company. My grandfather actually also ran a small textile company down in Gothenburg in the 1950s. So yes, that was perhaps not entirely unexpected. Så ja, det var kanske inte helt oväntat.

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When I decided to start my own business, I had a clear idea. I wanted to offer the world's best bed linen. I sat late at night when I was still working as a PR consultant and googled for fine long-threaded cotton, especially from Egypt and the USA. During one of my evenings, however, I ended up on another website, which described the cotton industry as one of the world’s dirtiest industries. The more I started digging, the more shocking facts I found, and the problem seemed to be worst in developing countries and including India. One figure that has stuck is the 270,000 Indian cotton farmers who have committed suicide in the last 15 years, a figure that is completely impossible to take in. Many of India’s cotton farmers live in extremely poor economic conditions and dept is a part of their daily lives. Poorer harvests, decreasing cotton prices and rising fertilizer prices mean that these small business owners end up in economic crisis and finally choose to take their own lives. In addition, as much as 55% of the country’s pesticides are linked to cotton production – despite the fact that only 5% of agricultural land is used to grow cotton. After really delving deep into the cotton industry and after years of research, I came to an important insight. It is not only the length of cotton fibers, thread density or weaving technology that defines the world’s best bed linen. It is at least as important that the bed linen is made with the utmost care and respect for our fellow human beings and the environment. At the same time, I found India’s textile pioneers in organic and Fairtrade certified cotton, RCM Organic. I knew right away that I had found the right one.

In March 2018, I went down with my partner Axel to visit factories in Calcutta and Tamil Nadu. It was an incredible experience and we were met by so much warmth and generosity, but also by an incredible professionalism and craftsmanship. Despite their great passion for organic and Fairtrade-certified cotton, they take no shortcuts when it comes to quality. We use the finest long-fiber cotton with a thread density of 300, in the fabric sateen. I now know from personal experience that Fairtrade makes a big difference, they help cotton growers to gain knowledge about their rights, organize themselves and sell cotton together, which strengthens their position in the world market. The Fairtrade donation goes to social, economic and environmental initiatives that strengthen the development of the local community. For example, the premium is used to invest in a new school, health care and in agriculture.

But how can it go so far that people choose to take their lives and that the cotton industry continues to emit so many dangerous chemicals? I think it is because a lack of transparency in the textile industry. Many companies do not know where their products are made, by whom or in what way. Did you know, for example, that as many as 93% of the world’s clothing companies do not know where their cotton comes from? Or that 76% of companies do not know where the fabric is woven, knitted, or dyed? Unfortunately, it does not look better when it comes to bedding. Therefore, I have decided that I want to do what I can and create and drive a positive change in the textile industry. Our promise at Read The Label is to always be 100% transparent and showcase our entire production chain – from cotton seeds to sheets. Because if we do not become aware, how can we bring about change?
I believe that together we can contribute to a more conscious world. That's why I start Read The Label - Bed linen for a more conscious world.

Anna Wennhall,
Founder Read The Label