March 18, 2022

A Chat With Kevin Mowles of ST MARC

By Rory Guyer
Kevin Mowles of ST MARC - Photographed by Sarah Enticknap
Kevin Mowles is the Owner-Founder of NEST, a home-lifestyle boutique on Coventry Street, South Melbourne, trading since 1999.

 

R - Can you tell us about your history with producing bed linen and why you decided to make bedding. 

KM - There was something about bedding and Nesting that seem to resonate with our clients from the day we opened Nest. There seemed to be a direct relationship between the notion of Nesting and sleeping. But we were challenged with the absence of niche independent brands at that time. That’s all changed of course, and there are a number of established independent brands.  But at that time I decided that we would develop bedding under the Nest label so that we could offer bedding that we felt our clients would appreciate.

By 2001 we had imported a beautiful combed cotton wide width fabric made from premium yarn out of North America and woven in China. The cotton had a wonderful handle and was strong and long lasting. These were the qualities that we would come to embrace with all of our pursuits in manufacturing textile products.

R - Why the change from cotton to Linen?

KM - The factory that was weaving the cotton that we imported was closed down and we were never able to source any cotton that resembled that same cloth. Besides, I was excited by the rise in popularity of pure linen and was already researching the history of Linen and its benefits as a bedding material.

R - Tell us about your linen journey.

KM - I decided to produce a range of linen in January 2015. We didn’t have a trade mark, I had little knowledge or resources around linen at that time. It wasn't until October 2016 before we received our first shipment of St Marc linen. 

We had to make sure that when changing from cotton to linen, that we would continue to provide the same quality that we had established with our clients over the past 15 years. It was a process that I really enjoyed and we now have a product that we’re all proud of. 

R - What were some of the interesting things that you discovered about linen as a bedding material?

KM - What was amazing was how healthy linen is as a choice for your sheets. Linen is a bast fibre. These fibres wick moisture away from the body during the warmer months and breath well. If you combine these features you have a fabric that is naturally anti-bacterial.

Linen is bio-thermal, meaning that your sheets naturally act in a very similar way to having insulation in your house. Keeping you cool in the warmer months and keeping the warmth in during winter. People who have trouble sleeping during the coldest and warmest times of the year really do benefit from sleeping in flax/linen.

R - So do you think linen has a relevance beyond long hot summers?

KM - We’ve been educated about linen by the fashion industry where historically they bring out their linen offerings for summer. That’s a perception that is changing and I often say to clients in store ‘throw your favourite winter jumper over the top of your linen shirt and see how much warmer it is”.

R - What were some of the ideas that influenced the design of St Marc?

KM - I wanted St Marc to have a sense of generosity to it. Plenty of tuck in the sheets, extra room so that your duvet isn’t peeking out of it’s cover. We try to develop every product with the client in mind.

R - How do you determine the value proposition of St Marc.

KM - This is something that the client will determine. From my point of view, it’s about how well the product works and its' longevity. This and the ease at which St Marc linen can be integrated to a client's existing collection. These aspects are at the core of all products we stock at Nest.

R - What makes St Marc a successful product?

KM - I’ve always thought that selling a product is one thing. When a client comes back and buys more, that’s when I think we’re on the right track. Whether it’s our label or our other brands that we sell, the philosophy around all of the products at Nest has always been that they should be fit for purpose, be enjoyable to use and last our clients for a long time.

 

The full ST MARC range is available through the ST MARC website and is stocked in store and online at NEST South Melbourne

St Marc Linen on display in store at NEST South Melbourne

ST MARC Linen on display in store at NEST South Melbourne