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Made and manufactured in Richmond, B.C., St. Geneve fine linen features high-end bedding with a distinctly old-world flair
St. Geneve Creative Director Nikki Renshaw in her Richmond studio.
Surrounded by fabric, fashion magazines and antiques in her Richmond design studio, St. Geneve creative director and former CFUN radio personality Nikki Renshaw points to a photograph by pal and photographer Janis Nicolay taped to the wall.
The picture is of a hazy, fall day at Butchart Gardens where the tree leaves had turned rich shades of brown and purple.
“Janis showed me that shot and I said ‘That’s it,’” says Renshaw.
The casual photograph became the inspiration for an olive- and chestnut-coloured cotton and silk jacquard duvet and set of coordinating amethyst-coloured sheets that Renshaw cheekily dubbed her “Mick Jagger bed.”
Since taking the creative reins of the luxury wholesale bedding company last year, Renshaw has amped up the style quotient and unified St. Geneve’s classic, luxury product line.
“She has made us up-to-date and cohesive,” says St. Geneve founder Michael de la Place. “With Nikki we have gotten so much more,” referencing her diverse creative background as a magazine editor, television and radio host and interior designer.
De la Place spent 18 years at Daniadown Home before briefly opening a retail storefront in Victoria with his wife, Annette, in 1989. The duo saw an opening in the high-end bedding market and quickly transformed the company into a wholesale manfucturer. Today, St. Geneve has 50 employees with all the manufacturing and design done locally from their Richmond, B.C., headquarters.
The bedding (which retails for $2,000 and up) is sold across Canada, the U.S. and into Asia including Fino Lino and The Cross Decor & Design in Vancouver and Gabriel Ross in Victoria. Competitors include luxury brands Sferra, Nancy Koltes and Frette.
“I read a business book when I started that said if you focus on the high-end, there will be less people, but you will be alone at the top,” says de la Place. “I also did it because it is a ton more fun.”
Renshaw, who admits to being obsessed with wallpaper and fabric, holds a degree in art and design from the prestigious Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in the U.K. where she was a classmate with fashion icon John Galliano. She took an extended detour into media while dabbling in interior design with her own business, The English Eccentric Home, which showcased her signature eclectic English country house style. After CFUN closed in 2009, Renshaw returned to school and earned a two-year interior design diploma from the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
“After CFUN closed, I went home to England for three months and redesigned my mom’s house,” says Renshaw. “I realized then that I had seen projects go south because I was juggling too much. When I commit to something I like to do it full on, so I decided to go back to school.”
Since joining the company, the creative director has made the St. Geneve product line more flexible by including reversible fabrics as well as co-ordinating sheets with previous seasons for more versatility.
When it comes to the creative process, Renshaw visits tradeshows in Germany and hand selects linens in Italy. The material is then brought back to their Richmond warehouse where it is designed and manufactured. And while the line has a distinctly old-world flair, Renshaw injects a sense of fun and whimsy.
Take the “Mick Jagger” a.k.a Gala sheets.
Says Nikki: “The obvious choice would have been to select brown sheets to go with the brown duvet, but I create an identity for each bed. In this case I knew the sheets had to be purple. I showed it to the team and they told me I absolutely had to go for it.” ■