A penchant for luxurious linen led to a business idea for this bedding aficionado.
It all started with an unforgettable stay at the Savoy Hotel in London. During a weekend jaunt to celebrate her husband’s birthday, New Zealander Lisa Knowler was struck not only by the luxury and attention to detail at this world-famous hotel but by the quality of its silky soft sheets and beautifully made beds.
“My home sleep experience was nothing like the Savoy’s. The Savoy sheets just felt so much better, and my overall sleep was so much nicer because of it,” says Lisa, who was living in London at the time. Determined to recreate her luxurious hotel sleep experience at her place, her love affair with luxury linen began. “I started buying beautiful bed linens and telling all my friends which ones were the best in terms of feel,” she says.
After returning to New Zealand eight years ago, and settling in Ponsonby, Auckland, she found it harder to source the European style of linen she was accustomed to. Further research revealed many local and international brands were made by the same few factories with manufacturing processes that used chemicals to keep the sheets wrinkle-free. It was at this point that a business idea began to form. “I wanted a different option for myself so started looking at where beautiful organic cotton was being grown and it went from there.”
She launched her own brand of bedding, House of March, in November 2022, with a range of duvet covers, sheets and pillowcases in a crisp white colour palette with borders in classic shades of navy and pewter. She drew on her background in styling and fashion, having studied at the London College of Fashion, and her knowledge of textiles and fabric to design the perfect range and deliver the “best sleep experience”.
“In fashion design you learn that drape is one of the most important factors of fabric,” says Lisa, “how it hangs under its own weight and therefore when on the body. Also the ‘hand’ or ‘finish ‘of fabric is very important, this is how it feels against the skin." House of March’s linen is made from soft, high-quality organic cotton that’s chemical-free. “I knew I wanted our bed linen to feel the perfect weight against the body as well as having the smoothest finish possible and was able to achieve this by making our bed linens from pure, long-staple cotton grown in India.” It is beautiful cotton, says Lisa, who’s proud to be New Zealand’s first Fairtrade-certified bedding brand, something she believes is a unique selling point in New Zealand.
House of March’s range has… two types of long-staple cotton, percale and sateen. Percale is crisp and cool to the touch and is like your favourite white shirt. The sateen is our signature cotton and my personal favourite as it is so smooth and light and gives the most “Savoy Hotel experience”. I absolutely adore the sateen in our range.
To me, a perfectly made bed is… one that is made from bed linens you really love. I think these days people don’t have time to be folding the perfect hospital corner, so I think a perfectly made bed is one that makes the owner happy when they look at it.
A podcast I’m enjoying now is… BizChix. I have found this podcast to be a treasure trove of mindset-oriented advice for everyone, but particularly women in business as the guests are all female. It has plenty of sage advice for businesspeople and I have found it useful with the launch of my brand. It also applies to any woman in the workplace.
I am listening to… Prince Harry read his book Spare to me on audiobooks. I couldn’t resist! I find it quite funny that he is reading the book as it feels like he is literally telling you his story.
I loved the show... Severance. It centres around employees of a company who have all undergone a procedure that separates, absolutely, their work selves (“innies”) from their home selves (“outies”). The show looks aesthetically beautiful and is directed by Ben Stiller with sensitivity and style.
I cannot wait to return to... Paris. When I was living in the UK, I travelled to Paris quite a bit, but I now realise not enough. I just want to lose myself in the beautiful shops and galleries.
My favourite dress is... Kate Sylvester’s Billowy tiered dress in green. I love the style of this dress so much that I bought it in different colours. But every time I wear the green dress people stop me and ask me where it is from or just tell me how beautiful it is. It’s a lovely lightweight maxi and I wear it constantly.
I love to shop at... Mr. Bigglesworthy, for homewares. It’s a beautiful shop specialising in mid-century furniture and homewares. I have bought some sofas from them and string shelves and it’s just a wonderful shop to wander around.
On Instagram, I like to follow… @Emmalewisham. I love Emma’s products so much, especially the Illuminating Oil Cleanser, which leaves such a beautiful finish on my skin and smells heavenly. Emma is flying the flag for NZ entrepreneurs and inventors. She is such an inspiration and I just adore her beautiful Instagram page adorned with her signature purple and pink.
My favourite restaurant is… Andiamo. We take our little boy there for dinner at 5pm as it’s nearby. He loves the macaroni and cheese, which is amazing. The people who work there always treat us so kindly and really take care of us. The same can be said for Mekong Babyon Ponsonby Rd. The food is stunning and we have a fabulous experience. When it is just my hubby and I, we head to Alma, in Britomart, because the food is simply the best in town and it’s a lovely dining experience.