x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Make linen part of everyday life at The Linen Souk

Caroline Bayly wanted to bring Europen-style table accessories to the UAE market, and says that linen isn't just for special occasions.

"Linen is a fablous fabric to have in your home, always," Bayly says. Antonie Robertson / The National

I started The Linen Souk just before Christmas. I really wanted to get involved in something that was creative and linen is something that I personally love.

With the popularity of al fresco dining in the Middle East, it's a wonderful thing to have a beautiful-looking table outdoors. I found that a lot of the stuff in the shops was quite fussy and I wanted to bring a bit more of a European style on to the market. I didn't see much of it around, so I really started this for myself and then realised that I might be able to turn it into a business.

Everything is bespoke, so you can have anything done on any piece of linen. We have placemats, coasters, napkins, aprons and hand towels. We're trying to educate people that linen isn't just for special occasions. You can use it all the time. This is a fabulous fabric to have in your home, always.

There are also lingerie bags, which is how we marketed them to begin with, but people are actually using them for all sorts of things - to put their costume jewellery in or their cashmere jumpers or stuff like that.

Then I started making a children's range of nightwear. The main point is that it can all be personalised, so if you want to change the colour or the motif, or if you have a family crest and want to make it totally your own, we can do that. It's extremely versatile.

When I found the fabric, I knew it felt really great. It's imported into Dubai but I have a good team of people here who know exactly what I want, and a great embroiderer who also does my tailoring now as well.

At the moment, I'm working from home, so people can contact me directly. I also take part in the Arte souq as often as I can.

I'm looking at going into the Ripe Food Market at the Dubai Garden Centre. That takes place on a Saturday morning, which is great because then I don't have to worry about childcare. That's a huge thing, obviously. The business is a huge commitment but it's so much fun right now.

I wasn't involved in anything creative before, but I've always loved that side of things. In my personal life, I'll always tend to lean that way, but previously I was doing project management for an insurance company.

I basically threw myself at this concept when I came across the linen. I wanted to do something myself at home and I wanted to have some fun with the designs. So far, people have really taken to it.

For more information, contact Caroline at caroline@thelinensouk.com or 050 458 2382, or visit The Linen Souk's page on Facebook