Selling my personal book collection knitting, crochet and other craft books for CRAZY prices.

S1-E3 Linda de Ruiter - The Slow Wardrobe pt1

by Saskia de Feijter on October 22, 2020  in a smaller lifea smaller life podcastpodcastS1-E3

transcription of episode below

Join us in our first official episode and welcome our guest, Linda de Ruiter, a charming and colorful designer, yarn dyer and friend of the show. In this first part of a two-part interview, Linda talks about how she made it into the textile industry, from almost studying psychology, to working in big business, and finally, selling her own creations. She took us on a fun ride. Enjoy, and don’t forget to subscribe! 

Linda owns The Small Wardrobe, a clothing store in the UK where she sells wonderful garments in all sizes, which she designs herself. She also sells hand-dyed yarns and other great products, which can all be purchased on her website. She hosts a video podcast on YouTube under The Small Wardrobe and is always making the world more colorful and fun. We love her!

Visit Linda’s website at www.theslowwardrobe.co.uk, where you can subscribe to her newsletter and check out her yarns and garments.

Subscribe to The Slow Wardrobe on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiLwvUchV-pOgKXT2CkAB9Q?view_as=subscriber

Watch the episode when Saskia was a guest on The Slow Wardrobe Webcast

https://youtu.be/v-wsP4DcEgk

Check out Linda and The Slow Wardrobe on:

Instagram www.instagram.com/theslowwardrobe

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/theslowwardrobe/

 

 

With this podcast I want to take you with me on my journey to discover the answers to these questions: What do we buy, Where do we buy, Who do we buy from… Or don’t we buy at all but use what we already have? And how relevant is my job as a yarn shop owner selling people stuff when we already have more than we need? How can I make my life as an entrepreneur and textile crafter smaller and more relevant to these times?
Have a question? Want to leave a message? Click the voicemail tab on the right, or scroll down to the bottom of the page for a text messag. I'd love to hear from you!
Find me at www.ja-wol.com and @jawolrotterdam on instagram.
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TRANSCRIPTION

 Linda de Ruiter  

 ...layer cake is the brand that is free of race, sex, age, size, anything. I want it to be completely inclusive.


Saskia de Feijter  

In my journey to find out how I can be relevant as a small business owner in these days, I talked to Linda de Ruiter. She is the owner of the slow wardrobe. With her Layer Cakes designs and her home-brand yarns, she works to get a brand that is super inclusive and eco-conscious. This is the second part of my interview with Linda; to catch the first part, go back one episode where Linda talks about how she got started in the yarn and textile business. 


Saskia de Feijter  

...Would you say that you run a conscious brand and if so, in what other ways? Because I think you're using linen a lot, is that a conscious decision for...? And if so, for what reason?


Linda de Ruiter  

Now in terms of the linen that you were referring to, and the fabrics that I use, that I want to be as limited as possible in terms of creating a footprint. I want it to be clean, sustainable, and reusable and... a very long lifespan. So the linen that I use now is being spun specifically for me, tailor made for my company in Lithuania. You could say, "Well, you know, why don't you use somebody closer by?" and the answer is because there isn't anyone. If I could turn that into a smaller footprint, I definitely would! So the linen is spun in Lithuania, sent here and then all made into garments here locally. And the knitting yarn that goes with it comes from the same mill, so everything in terms of color are the same in the fabrics as in the yarn. So going back to the point, well, where will you take it in the future? I've only just embarked on the exciting step towards the future where I want to try and create more of a fusion between the knitted garments that people wear and the sewn garments that they wear. So to be a bit more clear about that, the idea is that you have a Layer Cake garment which is sewn that you've bought, but the sleeves, you have knitted yourself and added to it. Or you know, the scarf. Or the shawl that you are wearing is knitted in colors that are in that fabric as well, so they go together beautifully.


Saskia de Feijter  

Oh, that's such an amazing idea. So it's really a whole wardrobe that you offer.


Linda de Ruiter  

Yes. And then of course, the next the logical next question is "Well, you're expecting people to knit their own sleeves, but why don't you let them sew their own dress? And the idea behind that - the reason that I haven't gone there or haven't gone there yet is that I have a ridiculously high aesthetic around how clothes are constructed, and how they sit on a body. With a Layer Cake garment, you put it on and you look in the mirror you think oh my gosh, that looks fantastic. The reason it does is - this is going to sound very big headed - but the reason it does is because we spent a ridiculous amount of time making sure that we have like, a perfect marriage of the fabric that we use, the cut of the garment, the quality of the sewing, and then lastly, when we put it on a person, the fit on that person; and if I start selling patterns, then I literally can't expect my customers to understand how you get that golden marriage of those four elements. So they will get the pattern and they will, you know, use a viscose fabric or whatever to make the dress or apron and even if they are very good behind the sewing machine, it will look completely different to the one made in the fabric that I sell. So that's the thing behind it. That's my hang up behind it. If I ever get over that hump and then say, "Well, okay, let's just sell the pattern together with the fabric, so that people can sew it themselves," that still doesn't stop them from saying, "Okay, I've now made one out of that nice linen. Now I'm going to make one in cotton. Oh... oh, that didn't work." They'll say the pattern is not as good as they thought. Do you know what I mean?


Saskia de Feijter 

Yes. Yeah, exactly. I wouldn't be able to let it go either. And especially if you have such high ethics and the aesthetic and everything. I totally understand. And I agree, and it doesn't have to be a pattern. Nobody says you have to do that. If you have high standards and if you know that whenever people buy it, it will be good... Oh, I couldn't live with the idea that... it's so familiar, the idea that somebody would like, fuck it up.


Linda de Ruiter  

Exactly! [laughing] Exactly.


Saskia de Feijter  

Like, "This little wardrobe thing really sucks. It wasn't slow. I spent like seven weeks." Not because of the pattern, dear. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It.. it wasn't slow. It was a nightmare.


Saskia de Feijter  

[laughing] Exactly.


Saskia de Feijter  

In terms of slow and fast... Your journey, working towards the more conscious way of doing business, are you... are you done? Are you still on it? Do you have a lot of plans for the future? You were already talking a little bit about it and I'm curious to know if a business like yours, that is essentially a small business, do you want it to grow? Do you think it can grow or is there like a limit to it because of some of the things we've already talked about?


Linda de Ruiter  

I think... Because of the internet, I think the potential for the company to grow is significant. But whether or not it does, I don't really mind? It sounds a little bit weird, but I don't think I am ambitious enough to believe that I really can change the face of the fashion industry or anything like that. What I want to do is change the way my customers look at their wardrobe and judge their wardrobe. And I want to change the way they feel when they're wearing their clothes. I want them to feel like a walking party every day. That's the cake. That's the cake part of the word. You know, it's a party! It's a party on my body. It's a party on a body that I have been trying to hide for years, I should be celebrating my body! It's, you know, it's the most wonderful machine that I will ever get to steer. 


Saskia de Feijter  

We do have a lot in common, don't we? [chuckling]


Linda de Ruiter  

Yes, we do, we do! So if I can do that one customer at a time, that was another... you know, here's a tiny little anecdote... taking Andrea to that first show at Yarndale, I said, "I have to warn you... Going in, on the first day, be prepared to be hugged." And she was like, "What?!" I said, "I'm not going to say anything more. You'll see." So one of the first customers we have, she would always make a beeline. She comes straight to my stand and I'm saying, "Oh my gosh, you know, this is the first time I've seen you walking without a cane." She says, "Yes! It's because I'm so much stronger! I've lost a bit of weight, my back is better... I actually think can size down in Layer Cake now, but I've come here to try. And if not, fine. I'm patient, you know, this is not about getting thinner, this is about getting fitter. And I am feeling fitter, and it's because I'm feeling better about myself, and it's because I've been wearing Layer Cake." That's literally what she said. And I was like, "Oh my god!!" You know, like, you hear those stories, you start welling up. And so I said, "Well, I've got a surprise for you. The lady who makes layer cakes, who sells them for me, is here. Look, there she is." So this lady turns around and literally falls around Andrea's neck saying "Oh, thank you so much! You have changed my life!" kind of thing. It's so cool. It's so cool.


Saskia de Feijter  

Oh my gosh, that is wonderful. And I do think it's a small revolution. I think all these small shops - yours, mine and numerous different people that we can name - all of us together are like little pebbles you throw in a pool. All these circles will meet and overlap. In the end, it will be a revolution in the fashion industry and we won't do it because we have money. We won't do it because we have banks supporting us. We won't do it because a large group of people is supporting it, but because small groups of people are shifting their beliefs and trying to do things differently and slower and with more purpose.


Linda de Ruiter  

Absolutely. It's in supporting each other, it's in supporting each other. We'll be a movement together.


Saskia de Feijter  

I'm actually getting goosebumps! I'm not lying. I got this like, matrix that just forms in my head and I'm like, I know this will work. We just need time and some of us will have to repeat this narrative of doing things slower, more intense, more conscious... and I believe in this movement. It's a slow movement, but it will happen. And it's so inspiring to talk to people like you, who feel the same thing. Because on your own in your own studio or shop or whatever, you can think that you have a nice idea, but when you make the connection with other people, and you hear these stories... That's exactly why I'm making this podcast. I want people to hear that it's a thing, it's a movement, it's out there. And it's so inspiring to talk to you and hear your ideas, and at the same time, you're like... reflecting my own ideas. And... I am really getting goose bumps, that's awesome.


Linda de Ruiter  

I know, I know. I'm very, very much on the same wavelength wavelength and that's why when you started talking about the conscious knitting club on Instagram initially, I'm immediately like, "Yes!  Yes! Where can I sign up? Thi- Yes, this. Yeah."


Saskia de Feijter  

[chuckling] I love that.


Linda de Ruiter  

I didn't even properly know what everything was that was involved, but I knew-


Saskia de Feijter  

[laughing] I didn't either.


Linda de Ruiter  

I knew that it was absolutely right. And the fact that you say that, you know, "Me neither," it's like, yes, Saskia! Perfect. That's it! Because we're going to do that together. That's the whole thing. It's about this ragtag line of people around the world all holding hands saying, "We all get it. We all get it." ... Now I've got goosebumps. [laughs]


Saskia de Feijter  

Yes, yes, exactly. 


Saskia de Feijter  

And this is something I wanted to ask you too, because I am not about showing people an Instagram fairy tale, a polished version of things. I want to show people the real version so it looks like it's obtainable to have a lifestyle like that because they can do it, too. It's all about small steps. And, uh... we still have two cars at home, one is electric... And I am moving into the city and I feel like I have to sell my car because I don't need it anymore. But I'm a person, and I have like, all these emotions and history. I have been driving since my 18th, and it's felt like my freedom; I don't want to let it go. So I have all these things as well that I need to figure out, like: how can I do it better? And it's just small steps. So I was wondering, how does your conscious lifestyle... What are things that you are still working on? And maybe you can actually give us a tip, something that you started doing that was not so hard?


Linda de Ruiter  

Well first of all, yes. At home it is very much like that. I am in the process of deer-proofing my front garden. We've always given the deer - we have a lot of deer in our garden front and back - and we've always given the deer free rein, but we're about to deer-proof the front garden... they can have the back which is big so they have space. But we'll have the front so we can start growing our own vegetables, so we're on a journey on that side of things as well at home. But in terms of clothes, especially the whole idea is buy less and buy better. So it's not about putting a mandate on yourself not to buy clothes anymore, but to buy clothes that are well-made out of good fabrics. And that when they then start wearing or or they rip or they have stains that you can't get out, you embellish them. You add to them to increase their longevity. And, you know, if you think, well, I'm getting a little bit bored with this top, then well, maybe you do some hand stitching on it. For example, do some hand embroidery on it, or stitch some patches on it, give it a new lease of life like that. Or add a border at the bottom, or anything like that. Try and be creative around that. Try and stay away from fast fashion. 


Saskia de Feijter  

Absolutely. 


Linda de Ruiter  

The fact that you are not used to spending more than 100 euros on one garment, that does not mean that you can't afford it. You may actually be able to afford it. And the reason that at the moment you think you can't afford it is because you buy lots of different garments that are all a lot cheaper.


Saskia de Feijter  

Yes, and throw them away when you're missing a button or something. Yes.


Linda de Ruiter  

Yeah. So instead, buy less of a better quality. Of course that doesn't have to be Layer Cake, but just try and start looking at your wardrobe in a different way. Slim it down. Literally slim your wardrobe down. Less number of garments, that fit you well and that are of a good quality. 

 

Saskia de Feijter 

Oh yes, absolutely. It's so liberating to do that. To just get rid of all the things that don't fit you well. It is the heaviness that pushes you down. Looking at the things you can't wear every time you open your closet... just get rid of them. Slim it down, wear things more often, don't push put them in the laundry every time you only wear them once. You can just air them and wear like a cotton tank top underneath, or there's so many ways that you can do all these things. And for me personally, I am a large woman. I wear a size 50-52 in Europe. I'm not sure what that is in UK... 


Linda de Ruiter  

--24, It would be a 24 in the UK.


Saskia de Feijter  

Yes. Yes. So it took me years to have a conscious wardrobe and only recently also because I'm focused on it like, every hour because I'm working around conscious decisions every hour of the day. If I look down at what I'm wearing, my decisions have changed so much. So today I'm wearing a linen skirt that is handmade in the UK. I consider the UK local to me, because Holland is so small. I'm also wearing one of those African-type patterns that is made in Holland by a company called Vlisco, and the top I have sewn myself, I think about 10 years ago. Um, and obviously underwear for me is harder, making my own bras... I probably will never do that. I do buy from a Belgian underwear brand, so I keep it... they probably made... no, they're actually, I think they're made in Europe. They might be, anyway. So I'm wearing leather sandals that I bought on holiday in Stockholm. Instead of buying a lot of things I don't need on holiday, I bought sandals that are leather and these ones will go with me for years. They are natural leather, so they change color with wearing them and they'll get prettier. It's just- it's all small decisions. And it's not hard. It'll just take time. Don't change everything at once. Just one thing at a time.


Linda de Ruiter  

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.


Saskia de Feijter  

So seeing as you are, I think you're about 10 years ahead of me in things, like seven to 10 years. We have gone on a very similar journey with similar decisions. What would your conscious business owner advice be for me? What are things that you would have done differently if in hindsight, or do you never have any regrets? 


Unknown Speaker  

I think I... yeah, I would say... Trust your gut and trust your... Be confident, based on your gut feel. I'm still in the process of improving my confidence around what I do. I think for a long time, I've been far too tentative in my steps. And I've only recently started pushing much harder and really increased my confidence. So, so it's like... go with your gut is definitely one thing. And the other thing I just thought of with the whole conscious business thing is repeat. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Really repeat the message. You cannot repeat your message often enough. I have the tendency--


Saskia de Feijter  

--That is so cool. I just, yeah... I just came to that conclusion myself. Just recently. Yes, sorry go ahead. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Yeah. I tend to think, Well I've said that once or twice so people are getting sick of it now. No! Most of them haven't heard or seen it yet!


Saskia de Feijter  

[laughing] Yes, exactly. 


Linda de Ruiter  

You have to repeat it again and again and again. And every time you repeat it, you get more and more response. And you think like, hang on a minute, they must be getting so sick of me. No! The people who've heard it go like, "Yes! I agree." But most people won't have heard it. So it's like repeat, repeat. You cannot jump on the barricades high enough and you cannot scream loud enough and often enough.


Saskia de Feijter  

Yeah, totally. I feel like sometimes I have made a new product with a new maker and I show it twice and I'm like, oh, people will say, "There she goes with her sock blockers again." Yet hardly anyone has seen it. I'm starting to realize that. And it also means that you can work a lot smarter, because you don't have to be so rushed to go into the next thing. And that's what I just realized, so thank you so much for validating that idea because I am going way too fast. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Absolutely.


Saskia de Feijter  

At the beginning of your story you were talking about the owner of The Body Shop that she's a real entrepreneur, she has so many ideas and that you're in a long term project and in the middle of the projects she goes, "No, we're gonna do something completely different," and that's what I do to myself. I'm like, "Oh, I have another idea now! Ooh, squirrel!" And there I go.


Linda de Ruiter  

[laughing] Yeah. Yeah, you have to be really careful with that. And you think, Well, I've shown it twice, so everyone has seen it now.No! You don't think of yourself. You, you're online and you see something new that you've never seen before, but you're a bit rushed, so you think, "All right, oh, Saskia is doing new sock blockers. That's interesting. Okay, on to the next thing because I'm rushing because I'm doing something else." Okay, here we are two weeks later. And I see you're doing something else with your sock blocker like, "Oh, yeah, haven't I seen that? Oh, yes. Yeah, that was a sock blocker. Now what was the sock locker about?" And I read a little bit more. "Oh, yeah, that's interesting, huh? Sock blockers. Do I have any sock blockers? I don't actually remember." 


Saskia de Feijter  

[laughing]


Linda de Ruiter  

So I move on again. I still haven't bought any. You know, I've only just kind of caught up with what you're trying to do with sock... "Oh, yeah. That's an interesting sock blocker, well, if I ever need sock blockers, maybe I should buy these." So I move on again a couple of weeks later, we're in the conscious knitting club,'re you talking about your sock blocker or one of the people there shows the blockers like, "Oh yeah! Saskia sock blockers. What was the deal with them again? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I just realized that I've got some socks. Actually, I could do with a pair of those."


Saskia de Feijter  

Yes, that's exactly what it's like. And you know what? I could be on the eight o'clock news announcing that I have new sock blockers. And not one of my customers might see it. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Exactly!


Saskia de Feijter  

Yes, so definitely... 


Linda de Ruiter  

Or they might think, "Oh, that's interesting. Oh, I'll think about that." Woop! Gone. That's it. And we all shop like that. You know, I sometimes returned to a shop or to a basket that I've put something in three or four times before I actually pull the trigger and buy.


Saskia de Feijter  

Oh, absolutely. Me too. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Well, there you go!


Saskia de Feijter  

Oh, I am so bad. Oh, I have this Turkish brand that makes leather covers for all kinds of things, and I love it so much. And I cannot decide, I just cannot decide. I want to make a conscious decision, so I'm taking a long time. Absolutely. You're so right.


Linda de Ruiter  

So if we want to be slow in making those decisions and making our purchases, we have to allow our customers to be slow and give them time as well.


Saskia de Feijter  

Absolutely. And also a nice byproduct of that is if you can be really mindful and slow in your business, then it is helping you not to burn out. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Absolutely, yeah. 


Saskia de Feijter  

Which is also a good thing. All these things come together so much. And that's why this podcast is not only for knitters, it's not only for customers, it's also for small businesses. It's actually for everybody that has an interest in living a smaller and more conscious life  within all of these realms. Yeah, so it's so, so lovely talking to you. I feel like we could talk like another hour before we even touch on all that easily. So, thank you so much. Will you tell us where we all can find you?


Linda de Ruiter  

Of course, of course, the website is www.theslowwardrobe.co.uk @theslowwardrobe on Instagram and I think I'm still Tall Yarns on Twitter, but I'm also The Slow Wardrobe on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook is where you can find me most, together with YouTube, where I do my video podcast on my channel. I do a new episode every other week, and that's called The Slow Wardrobe as well. 


Saskia de Feijter  

Great. And people can subscribe to the newsletter as well? 


Linda de Ruiter  

They can subscribe to the newsletter on the website, and they can subscribe to the podcast of course on YouTube. I alternate podcasts and newsletters, so if there's a week that I don't have a podcast, then I'll have a newsletter instead. And compared to other companies, I do a lot of specials for my newsletter subscribers. I do special products that nobody else ever gets to see; they don't actually make it to the webshop because they'll sell out on the basis of the newsletter, so it's really worthwhile subscribing to the newsletter. And one final thing is, in terms of customer loyalty, once you have made one purchase of a Layer Cake, Soliloquy or Trinity Twist - that's another one of my own brand yarns that I do - the website recognizes you as a returning customer. And then you have a code, which you can use forever, that gives you a permanent 10% discount on any purchase you make of those three brands.


Saskia de Feijter  

That is an amazing idea. You are also full of small business ideas, I just noted like three. [laughs] That's really super, super awesome. [outro music begins playing] Thank you so much. Hopefully we'll get to meet in real life soon, but until then I will follow whatever you do. You're an example. You're an inspiration. Thank you so much. 


Linda de Ruiter  

Thank you very much for having me. It's been lovely.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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