In Conversation With: Baylon
Baylon is the family name of the founder which has a long history back to the wool industry’s very beginning in Mazamet, in the South of France. They are combining French traditions for exquisite workmanship and finesse, together with the Norwegian love of wool. Keep your skin healthy with pure Merino wool. Their wool quality is dermatologically tested, and clinical results shows that it can prevent allergy on several areas.
We speak to Pernille Siem Baylon, the founder of Baylon about why she started the brand and what makes her bedding so special
Tell us a little about yourself, and what inspired you to create Baylon / Lillelam?
My background is in the field of the arts but, when I had children, I discovered not only the scarcity but also the poor quality of baby clothing in our market, which sparked the idea of Lillelam. However, when I actually finally had everything ready in 2004, I debated with myself whether I really should add to the abundance of brands and textiles in the world, well aware that it was and still is one of the most challenging industries for our planet and the people working with it. However, I could not let go of the idea of making clothing from natural, renewable and fully degradable fibre, in the most sustainable manner possible through every step of the value chain. It was just as important to use manufacturing partners that applied as strong an ethical approach in their business as I did. From day one every decision, strategy, partnership and action has been thoroughly evaluated according to our strict sustainable and ethical values. Certainly, it has taken longer time and more resources as we really had to pioneer our way through endless research and some true innovative processes while never compromising on our values; but it has shown that it has really been worth it.
The softness, purity and quality of a Lillelam garment makes it suitable even for premature babies born up to two months early. This gave us the idea of making bedlinen for adults in the same quality. I am half French and for centuries my family made fine merino woven textiles, so I felt it was very appropriate to give the adult collection my mother’s maiden name; Baylon. Actually, the town she grew up in was the stock exchange worldwide for merino wool at due to the unique quality of the refinement process of the fibre, back at the time when one had to have a letter from the king in order to fabricate official products.
What are the advantages of using merino wool in bedding?
First of all, it is made with a fibre that is 100% natural and degradable so it leaves a minimum carbon footprint. Secondly, pure wool destroys bacteria naturally so it need less machine washing compared to cellulose fibres (such as cotton, linen, bamboo etc), and it is enough to air the bedding. Wool is an active fibre, just as it is found on the back of the sheep, and it draws impurities from the skin and into the air. It is also a very relaxing fibre to wear and clinical studies show that babies and adults have a much better – and longer – quality of sleep overall in wool. When using normal bedlinen people can often wake up at night because it’s too warm or cold, but since pure wool naturally regulates body temperature and absorbs humidity at up to 40% of its own weight, sleeping is more comfortable and stays more stable. You may already know that fire brigades the world over use wool in their uniforms, and wool fleece blankets, as it is fire resistant. Wool sheets also give more relief to bedridden, elderly people who get bed sores. Last, but not least, I would like to mention the indescribable feeling of total calm that is sleeping in soft wool; it is the most amazing experience.
In the old days, people used to sleep in animal fleece and most often wool. Modern fabrics became commonplace when the washing machine did, which is not all that long ago. So, we are merely up-scaling on what has been a traditional asset for millennia, though in a modern way. It took us 3.5 years to develop the final result as it had not been done before anywhere in the world, at least not to our knowledge. Being an organic and active fibre, making panels of the size used for bedlinen was a difficult technical challenge and it took many, many trials and failures in both the development of the fabric and the of the production machinery. So, naturally, we are extremely proud of our little but significant pioneering innovation here which tok a good 3.5 years to develop.
Who are your target customers, and what makes Baylon / Lillelam stand out from its competitors?
Our target customers are those that are actively aware of what they buy, both in regard to the
sustainable aspect and the conditions of the workforce involved in the production process, but also conscious about purchasing a high quality product that they can enjoy sleeping in for a very long time.
What has been the most rewarding feedback you have received from a customer who has purchased one of your products?
We have got a very humbling and tremendous response since we launched; from patients suffering from chronic fatigue to night workers who struggle to sleep during the daytime, or people with allergies (as pure wool is free from allergens). We find it very rewarding to hear from so many customers with very different reasons for benefiting from sleeping in our wool sheets. It made our hearts soft when we received for instance a story from a single mum about her 13-year-old son with chronic eczema all over his body. She told us that the first night he slept in this bedlinen, was the first that he, and she, had slept through the whole night peacefully in 13 years. Another touching example was a mature woman writing to us that it helped her through her menopause, due to all the sweating and discomfort she had suffered until then. Another entertaining story is from a customer who told us that the day after their first night in Baylon bedding was the first time she and her husband had ever come late to work!
Of the Baylon / Lillelam products that we are featuring on Myza, which is your particular favourite, and why is it a must-have for our customers?
As mentioned before, we strictly make our products in one way; one quality of yarn, one way of knitting, one way of dying the colours, and then sewing it and finishing it – regardless of whether it is for premature baby or bedlinen for adults. So, we know all our products are of equal quality and comfort to our customers. Then, in the end it is simply a matter what the colour a customer prefers.
Where do you see Baylon / Lillelam being in the next five years?
When I started Lillelam in 2004, merino wool was unknown in northern European countries. Now it is more widespread but still somewhat exclusive – largely as the raw material and careful production processes are costly and quality production takes time. With an expansion of Baylon/Lillelam in export markets, we may raise awareness and even inspire more sustainable products from nature and our ancestors’ eco-friendly way of living. As we are a “concept-based brand”, we focus a lot on raising awareness of the benefits of pure and natural merino wool in general, in addition to developing the brand.
Finally, a few pearls of wisdom from you! Run us through your recipe for a great night’s sleep.
Sleep, and some do’s and don’ts that you recommend following, or including in a presleep schedule.
We can assure you do not need to count many sheep before you fall into a nice, deep sleep in Lillelam or Baylon nightwear or bed linen. It’s like my teenage daughter said when she woke up after her first night sleeping in the bedlinen; “It’s like sleeping on a cloud”.