Can’t sleep?: How one woman founded an organic bedding brand to to help everyone sleep more soundly

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Have you ever thought about how your duvet was made? Was it dyed with toxic chemicals? Or made fairly? As our concern with the environment and ethical practices grows, bedding is next on the hit list. 

We talk to Jayne Harvey about her organic bedding range, Lily & Mortimer, and how she founded a brand to fall into bed with.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 29 January 2018

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It’s far to say that Jayne Harvey was one of the many across the globe who suffered from a lack of sleep. It’s thought at least 20 million Brits are part of a ‘sleep crisis’ as our busy lives and screen addictions upset our natural sleep patterns.

What she did about it though is pretty unusual. 

Lily & Mortimer was launched in 2016, under the premise of ‘Sleep well, live well’. It encompasses a beautifully soft range of sheets, duvet covers and pillows all made from organic cotton.

“As I searched for ways in which I could improve my own sleep I discovered very few bedding brands were organic and certainly couldn’t tell me a lot about where they were made,” Harvey says. “ We want to promote a world where everyone can sleep more soundly, so what better place to start then bed?”

Since 2016, she's seen a rising interest in organic cotton and organic bedding:

"I see more people becoming aware of the benefits of switching to organic for themselves and the planet, I hear from customers that they are more conscious of their choices and are looking for more options in bedding and other categories. 

As an industry cotton bedding is growing, as the demand increases, I would encourage customers to check that the brands they are buying are 100% organic cotton, ethically sourced, having a GOTS certification or commitment to Fairtrade is a great indicator that we can change the bedding industry for the better.

The recent publication of the environmental audit committee report 'Fixing Fashion" will I hope make more people aware of the impact of our consumerism and encourage people to buy quality over quantity."

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Lily And Mortimer Organic Cotton Bedding1

Jayne Harvey has seen a huge rise in the interest in organic cotton bedding

The benefits of sleeping in organic cotton are clear to Harvey: “Organic cotton creates a natural softness and at Lily & Mortimer we look for single ply, long staple cotton that makes your bedding soft and strong. Non-organic cotton is treated with harmful chemicals to shrink and prevent wrinkling,” she says. 

“We spend up to 30% of our life in contact with our sheets so just as we are becoming more conscious of what we eat why wouldn’t we all want to minimise contact with these chemicals?”

“We spend up to 30% of our life in contact with our sheets so just as we are becoming more conscious of what we eat why wouldn’t we all want to minimise contact with these chemicals?”

As many ethical fashion designers will attest, organic cotton isn’t the easiest thing to come by or verify. 

Only 1% of all cotton produced globally is organic, and yet it uses less water and energy to grow and it doesn’t pollute the environment with toxic dyes.

“It took a lot of research to understand the total supply chain for cotton. At the time I was studying sustainable leadership with the University of Cambridge and used my business as the case study,” she says.

“This helped me understand more deeply the environmental and social capital challenges that exist in the cotton industry and gave me some great leads through organisations such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Fairtrade UK.”

Lily And Mortimer Organic Cotton Bedding4
“We want to promote a world where everyone can sleep more soundly, so what better place to start then bed?”

She now sources her organic cotton for the bedding from Chetna Organic in India, where she can trace the cotton all the way back to the farm and Lily & Mortimer only work with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) holders. 

There are a couple of other factors that have influenced her beautiful and simple organic cotton bedding range.

Having lived in Thailand for the last five years, her appreciation of the complex relationship between society and nature has grown, alongside a bigger interaction with the ‘make and mend’ movement.

“Whilst there are many environmental issues here in Thailand they do have a great ‘fix it’ mentality. You can find people sat on the street corner with their Singer sowing machines ready to repair your clothes any time of day. It’s one of the benefits of living in such a diverse community, you see how resourceful people can be."

Lily And Mortimer Organic Cotton Bedding3

Lily & Mortimer's organic bedding makes for a super soft and comfortable night's sleep

And as a parent, she’s conscious of the state of the world for the next generation. She has expanded her range into babywear and has tried to minimise waste through clever packaging. The brand uses leftover cotton to create drawstring bags for your sheets for example.

“I am confident that my children’s’ generation will live more consciously and find innovative solutions to solving many of the environmental issues we face today.

My goal with Lily & Mortimer was to give parents the confidence they are making the best choice for their children and the environment. We need to bring more sustainable practices into the mainstream.”

"Our customers are looking for simple ways they can live more sustainably, at times they feel overwhelmed by all the roles they play, wife, mother, daughter, business women. 

So we try not to overcomplicate things and ensure they can make a positive choice for the whole family when it comes to sleep. And sleep is something many of them would love more of."

Bedding has an important role to play in our homes and as the ethical fashion movement grows, more attention will turn to the other ways we use textiles. Making sustainable stylish is for Harvey, like so many others, the most sensible way forward.

“It is fantastic to be a part of growing community of ethical and sustainable businesses and knowing that whilst I get joy from creating gorgeous products, we are also helping those that make them through our Fair Trade commitment and choice of partners makes it all the better,” she says.

"We are working new products in line with our Sleep Well, Live Well philosophy. Our first one should launch in March. It will be a natural sleep oil that can be used as a bath oil or massaged into skin and hair to aid a restful sleep. We will also be adding new items to our bedding and mini Lily & Mortimer ranges."

Want to try it for yourself?

We have an exclusive discount offer! Get £25 off your first order of £75 or more at Lily & Mortimer - just use the code 'spring' at checkout.


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