Dreaming big: at home with Jessica Mason
A serene and streamlined home located on one of Notting Hill’s enviably elegant streets, Jessica Mason’s flat is both a haven of peace and a hive of activity. Jessica is the founder of linen and sleepwear brand Piglet, which she’s been running for almost two years, steadily growing the brand from a tiny start-up to a thriving business. Now, she splits her time between the company’s countryside HQ, and London, where she’s created a calm and cosy abode that serves as both home and office when she’s in town.
When we popped over to visit, sun was streaming through the windows, the flat was filled with greenery and the air with the fresh scent of eucalyptus. After having a look around, we got to chatting to Jessica about how she balances work and life in a relatively small space, and while travelling between two homes.
Other than confessing to a “major Netflix problem”, it’s rare that you’ll find her putting her feet up. The artworks dotted about the flat, which she’s painted, drawn or stitched, are testament to this. As is her gym habit, which she says is integral to switching off. Keen to know more about how this busy entrepreneur makes life work, we settled in for a chat.
You live between West Sussex and Notting Hill, how did that come about?
I moved home to live with my mum in West Sussex in order to launch Piglet in 2017, and the business is based there now, so I split my time between London and the countryside. We work with lots of local people and businesses, so we feel very rooted there. And I think being based there has given the brand a slightly rustic feel, which is now part of the identity.
We love the name. How did you come up with it?
It’s a little bit tongue in cheek. We wanted it to convey a feeling of stylish scruffiness, and a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
And was it tough moving back to London?
Well, it was partly a practical decision, as I was coming up for meetings every week. Also, I grew up here, so it was nice to come back to town and be with all my friends again. Being in Sussex was amazing at the beginning, and it was great to be in the country for the quieter periods when there was less to do. But, the business is a lot bigger and a lot busier now, and it feels good to be back in London.
It does sound like the ideal set up. Have you always wanted to run your own business?
I used to work in PR, which I enjoyed, but I always knew I wanted to do something like this and work for myself. I’d been based in Dubai for five years and, when I decided to come home, all of the jobs I considered here meant cutting my salary in half. So, I decided then that it was the right time to take the leap. I just had to get used to the fact that I wasn’t really going to have any money for a while.
Did tightening the purse strings change what your perspective on what you needed to be happy?
I definitely experienced a shift in my priorities, and I realised that I don’t really need or want to buy much. Even now, I’d so much rather spend money on my house than on clothes. And also, I don’t care about many thinks as much as I do the business, which is a very fulfilling investment of time and energy.
Nothing beats loving what you do. Why did you choose linen bedding to begin with?
It was always about enabling customers to create a home that it’s as comfortable as it is beautiful. I’m quite a messy person, and I’m not always very good at taking care of my things, so I find crisp and minimalist interiors very unattainable – pristinely made beds included. I wanted to champion a product that felt true to real life.
And we’ve heard linen sheets can also help you sleep better. Is that true?
Definitely. I initially approached the products from an aesthetic angle, but i’ve learnt so much more about the material over the last couple of years. The longer fibres of the linen help to absorb moisture, and so help to regulate body temperature for unbroken sleep, plus the weight of the fabric is very comforting. So many of our customers tell us they sleep better now, which is amazing to hear.
We’re sold. How important is good sleep to you? Do you have any rituals that help you switch off at the end of a busy day?
Sometimes, if I I’m going to be staying in for the evening, just the process of getting into my pyjamas helps me creates a distinction between work and downtime, which can be tricky when you work from home. Scent also helps, for example, I have candles that I only burn in the evening. Oh, and I highly recommend boring historical documentaries to help you sleep… anything with black-and-white archive footage is a winner.
Boring black-and-white documentaries: the unsung secret to good sleep. You heard it here first. Do you enjoy running your own business?
Part of me absolutely loves it, as the lifestyle affords you so much flexibility and freedom, and the ability to control your own time. But there is a psychological toll, too, and it can be hard to switch off or create routines. Luckily quite a few of my friends are freelance or run their own companies, so we try to support each other.
How do you to create a balance between work and wellbeing?
Exercise is a key part of that for me. I couldn’t work in an office again partly because I love to go and take classes whenever I want to. I do a lot of yoga, and some high-intensity cardio, which is just a pure endorphin rush. I’ve also been promising myself that I’ll go for a walk first thing in the morning instead of reaching for laptop. I’m not really practicing what I preach at the moment, but that’s the new plan, we’ll see how it goes.
Ok, keep us posted. We’ll be checking up on you. What’s the best thing about being your own boss?
I love feeling really proud of something. Never before have I had the sense of fulfilment that I feel now. I always look forward to the day when I wake up, as work is so varied and never gets boring.
It sounds like the dream. What do you do when you’re not working?
Mainly catching up with friends, and seeing my sister and her three kids. I also have a major Netflix problem. I’ve honestly think I’ve watched everything. And I like making art too; I’ve always been quite creative and it’s a good way to relax without having to force yourself to do nothing. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
And does your creativity extend to the kitchen?
No. I never cook, I just don’t enjoy it. I go out to eat, and definitely order in too much. I keep meaning to curb my Deliveroo habit.
Well, it is officially hibernation season, so takeaways are par for the course. What does ‘home’ mean to you?
For me, home is has to comfortable and personal. It’s that feeling you get when step through your front door on a dark evening, and into somewhere cosy and warm. There’s nothing like it.
In full agreement, we said our goodbyes to Jessica, wistfully eyeing the beautifully rumpled bed linen as we left, and making a note to add a set to our Christmas lists. Oh, and maybe some pyjamas too… we have been very good this year.