Founder / Bed Threads
If you’re anything like us, one look at your bed, with it’s soft billowy pillows and layers of linen covers, is enough to make you yawn, and desperate to dive in. WTF is it with beds?
When we first heard about Genevieve Rosen-Biller and her brilliant business Bed Threads, we were intrigued. Why bed linen? Actually, lets rephrase this, why leave an illustrious journalism career at 28 years of age, to sell bed linen? The answer is sumptuously simple. Genevieve was moving apartments, and realized that there was nothing in the market that satisfied her taste for gorgeous linen without the million dollar price tag, so she decided to create it herself.
This #careerstory is so pivotal in this day and age. The truth is, careers aren’t linear, they twist and curve and change.
In today’s interview, Genevieve takes us back to high school, and to her time studying Journalism at Uni. How she plucked up the courage to leave her 9-5 job working for some of Australia’s most prestigious mastheads, and what advice she has for anyone who might me struggling to take the plunge into entrepreneurship themselves.
It’s time to meet the beauty and brains behind Bed Threads.
Hi Genevieve, can you tell us where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
I grew up in Sydney. I’ve always loved writing, reading, film, art and design, indulging these outlets in my leisure time and where possible through travel. I’ve always leaned towards creative subjects and dreamed of working as a journalist since the ripe age of 10. Confident in my vision, I zeroed in on these areas without ever looking back, never imagining that I would veer from journalism let alone start my own business.
Yet in 2014, as my husband and I set out in search of pure linen bedding for our new apartment—coming up empty with options that were either overbudget or underwhelming—a proverbial lightbulb switched on in my head. Convinced that we weren’t alone in our pursuit of pure linen bedding at a reasonable price-point, we recognised a wider need for an alternative that was affordable and packaged in a set: complete with two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet, deliverable for free, Australia-wide.
A near decade-deep into my journalism career, I then began two years of research and product development to conceive Bed Threads, our line of 100% French flax linen bedding. What initially started as a side-project segued into a full-time job and a thriving business that fulfils consumer needs by offering a product unavailable anywhere else on the market. In the same breath, the success of the business is of course largely indebted to the skills and confidence garnered at school and work, without which I would not have been able to develop the product and the business could not have taken flight.
Where did you go to high school and how was that experience for you?
I went to high school in Sydney and for the most part really enjoyed my time! Most of my closest friends today are my schoolfriends, and I’m grateful to have had the education that I did. Without it, I could not have fulfilled my dream of studying journalism, which I undertook at UTS after completing high school.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
In some ways yes, it did, and in other ways no. I had wonderful teachers and friends who supported me over the course of my HSC, which helped me to get into the course I wanted. I think what I value most from my high school experience, however, is that it was a positive one—I know sadly this is not the norm for every student. I always knew the career I wanted to pursue—which meant I had a goal I could work towards that helped me identify the long-term opportunities that lay ahead long after school was finished.
However, I do recognise that students at school can become pigeon-holed as being “good” or “bad” at particular subjects, whereas the “real world” is not so binary. The sad thing is we falsely perpetuate these narratives within ourselves and they become our truths. I used to feed myself these sorts of stories (“I’m terrible at maths” was a big one!) but in reality a great deal of my roles in media—an industry I initially perceived as wholly creative—involved analysing data and checking numbers (specifically concerning budgets, traffic or circulation figures) and today I am on top of every metric in my business.
Love that advice Genevieve, so did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
While completing my journalism degree, I interned at several publications including Dolly, Oyster magazine and Yahoo!7. At school, I was generally trying to stay on top of my work—sometimes successfully and other times not! These internships were invaluable, especially clarifying my need to consolidate my own digital skills to stay ahead of the industry’s inevitable transformations. These were also pivotal when I segued into my side-hustle full-time—without mastering these skills in my internships and later in my professional career, I would not have been able to develop Bed Threads into the digital company it is today.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or other equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I majored in Journalism and my sub-major was Politics, and I also trained as a news journalist. After gaining some work experience, I quickly realised lifestyle and entertainment journalism were the areas I wanted to pursue.
Tell us about your career journey so far. Who have you worked for, and explain any highlights.
Shortly after I finished my degree I landed a job at Fairfax Media on TheVine—which sadly no longer exists—but which was truly a dream job. I still reflect on that time as both a life and career highlight: having the opportunity to learn from seasoned editors, interviewing some of the world’s biggest celebrities, and most importantly learning how a digital publication is run from social media, to building a database and digital marketing.
Since then, I have held various editorial roles at ASOS, Qantas Magazine and Body+Soul, rounding out a near-decade of working amongst and getting the opportunity to share the stories of incredibly inspirational people—from businesswomen to athletes to ‘everyday’ people who overcame incredible adversity. Yet pivoting from journalism at twenty eight—to navigate not just a career change but to begin a business from scratch—and working for myself has also become (and continues to be!) one of my career highlights.
Any career journey is nothing without its evolutions—ups, downs and everything in between—and if I can impart one critical takeaway it is to never settle into feeling stuck. There is always room to learn more and it is never too late to try something new—so always keep abreast of opportunities.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
After two years of research and development in the evenings and on weekends—juggling my side-hustle with my full-time job at Body+Soul—I finally set the Bed Threads website live on August 31 2017! After six months, juggling both became unsustainable—I was working 16 hours a day!—and so I made the call to work on Bed Threads full-time. That our first round of stock sold out in three weeks and the business was growing also gave me the confidence to back Bed Threads and get behind my decision to do it full-time.
What is the hardest part of your current role as the Founder of Bed Threads?
For one, there are no days off! I am constantly thinking about Bed Threads: how we can improve our website; expand our product offering; serve our customers at every touchpoint and maximise their experience with the brand. This customer experience can range the gamut—from the offline interaction of unboxing a set of Bed Threads to the online content we curate and create for our readers on our website’s Journal and our Instagram. In the same breath, it’s wonderful to wake up excited every day with new ideas to propel the brand forward—I’m extremely lucky and grateful to do what I love for a living!
What does a typical business day look like for you in your current job?
I wake early and have a coffee! My mornings are usually spent on administrative tasks, whereas the afternoons are reserved for creative projects—merchandising the site, coordinating photoshoots, designing and developing new products, and so on.
Health and wellness are both hugely important to me—I try to exercise and cook everyday—and of course, sleep is a non-negotiable—on pure, 100% French linen bedding of course! The only part of my bedtime routine that changes regularly is the colourway I sleep in—I’m currently obsessed with our newly launched Terracotta and Rust shades, which we brought out just in time for summer.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Sometimes your dream job appears differently to how you might expect it to look. Be open to opportunities that come your way and have the confidence to seriously consider your ideas—bet on yourself! If you have a vision for a product or service that you think will genuinely improve something in the market or you can simply execute it more effectively, do your research and if it makes sense, work hard, see it through and give it the best possible chance to succeed.
Genevieve’s most valuable career resources list:
- Favourite websites: Sydney Morning Herald, TechCrunch, The Guardian, Elle Décor, Architectural Digest, Vogue Living and Broadsheet.
- Name an Instagram account that you can’t go a day without checking: I am constantly inspired by @ad_magazine and @cntraveler and I literally also cannot go a day without checking @bed.threads!
- Favourite podcast: How I Built This With Guy Raz, My Domaine’s Second Life.
- Favourite all time book/s: There are so many! Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends and Normal People come to mind—I just read these back-to-back and recommend both!