Five minutes with... Bernie de Le Cuona, the entrepreneur who made linen cool

The fabric designer started 25 years ago without a plan, and now turns over £10m.

by Adam Gale

Bernie de Le Cuona's £10m business designs high-end fabrics for plush interiors – cushions, curtains, upholstery and the like – but her name remains associated with linen, the material she made her own in the early 90s. MT pulled up a futon to find out what makes a fabric entrepreneur tick.

How did you start your business?

I’m originally from South Africa, where I had a business importing furniture from Europe. I met an English guy, we married and came over here, then we broke up. So I needed to make a living.

Why linen?

In those days there was no linen being produced outside of India, but I loved the way the fabric took the colour and the different things you could do with it. I wanted to produce something with it that no one else had produced.

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