The Muscari family of Latvia is growing a sustainable enterprise by weaving together mother-daughter connections, smart business decisions, and products made from linen fabric. Linen is a strong, natural fabric made from plants (flax), and it may in fact be the oldest textile humans have produced–fragments of linen fabric thought to be 30,00 years old have been found in European caves.
The Strength of Family
For Liene, co-owner of Muscari Linen, family has proven to be a driving factor in staying grounded and happy. The Latvian-based shop offers a range of delicate linen items, from scrunchies to robes to bedding. Through the hand-making of reusable and biodegradable products, Liene extends fond memories of her outdoor-oriented childhood to families and the next generation of explorers.
“After my father’s death,” she says, as she rubs her shoulders, staring towards the bright sun, “I realized how fleeting life was. You don’t even think about how life can end tomorrow.” The experience of loss inspired Liene, along with her mother and sister, to start a small, family-owned workshop in the image of beautiful childhood memories, spent in nature with their grandparents. Muscari is the family name, chosen as part of the company name, and this connection has helped them to nurture and maintain a strong intimacy with their brand. “Overall, I feel my quality of life has improved since I started,” she reflects. As a mother of young children, she wanted to maximize time with her family, while teaching her children that nature is not something to be taken for granted.
Confidence to Grow a Business
The daughters-mother trio has remained steadfast and faithful to the brand. Being an entrepreneur isn’t only a job, it’s also an identity. Before starting Muscari Linen, Liene studied finance in school, resulting in a career path with a solid business background. She grew as both a creator and an entrepreneur, even learning how to use a sewing machine to create the designs. Latvians tend to be more reserved individuals, and she admits that being a soft-spoken woman in the world of entrepreneurship was a bit difficult at first. She had to overcome her shyness by putting herself and the brand out there in order to market her products. She has had to learn to fit the part and be more confident. Liene says that if she could speak to her past self, she would say to stop letting fear impact her confidence to pursue her endeavors, whether that means quitting her job to launch a business or speaking to customers with intimate stories worth sharing.
Muscari Linen was created for customers who seek sustainable lifestyles and families surrounded by nature. The range of the products they make — kid’s apparel, bedding, dresses, bags, and more—demonstrates that consumers can incorporate sustainable products into every aspect of their lives. The products are multi-use, long-lived, and repurposable, (linen bags, for example, can be reusable, zero-waste shopping bags) but the fabrics themselves are particularly unique and eco-friendly. What may be the world’s oldest fabric may also be one of the most sustainable: it uses a fraction of the water, fertilizer, and pesticides required by most cotton fabric production, is extremely durable and strong, and it’s also biodegradable and recyclable. Muscari Linen also prides itself on being resourceful and utilizing every scrap, even using small cutting leftovers to make hair ties, very different from the practices of most disposable, fast-fashion brands, which waste copious amounts of fabrics after cutting out shapes.
For Liene, her products are a reflection of her seven-year-old self, exploring Latvian rivers and picking berries alongside her grandmother and sister. She aims to keep this image alive in her brand, hoping to give the next generation of kids a chance to live connected to nature through her family, as she once did. Having the good fortune to stay grounded in nature and with family is something that should never be taken for granted.
A Stitch in Time
With world consumerism causing a multitude of environmental issues, it has become increasingly important to make conscious lifestyle decisions. Small improvements in our choices have a compounding effect — eventually reaping huge benefits. After enough accumulated changes, we are able to observe considerable progress from what seems like very little effort. We can manifest this ideology in our environmental decisions. It can start with something small, like asking yourself “if plastic stays on this planet forever and does not decompose, why do I continue to use single-use plastic that will only serve me for a few minutes?” Such mindful awareness can help us make transitions to sustainability. For example, instead of choosing to purchase a polyester tablecloth, buy a durable linen one that utilizes less water to make and is biodegradable.
In the world of fashion, the compounding effect is especially significant. Currently, the fast fashion industry consumes 1/10th of all water used industrially and produces more carbon emissions than maritime shipping and all international flights combined. The synthetic materials commonly used in fast fashion items are responsible for 35% of all ocean microplastics. What’s more, 57% of all discarded clothing ends up in a landfill. But what if we transitioned to seeing our clothes as long-term investments? Instead of overconsuming and spending $200 dollars on 20 cheap, non-biodegradable shirts that may have been produced with child labor and are destined for the trash in less than a year, we chose to consume less, and used our dollars more wisely? For example, your $200 can go towards a set of unique, handmade, and ethically produced clothes and accessories that will also generate direct revenue for a small family-owned company.
Muscari Linen plans to continue promoting sustainable lifestyles by selling through in-person operations such as markets and trade shows, as well as its online Etsy shop and website, and it is constantly developing new designs and products. As adults, we can change our behavior, but exposing children to this sort of sustainable consumption prepares the next generation, who will have only a larger obligation and responsibility to maintain the environment with their choices. For that reason, we should continue to surround our next generation with ethical options and teach them to never take the environment for granted. Family values and bonds can be the key to improving our conditions, whether that be growing up with the option of a beautiful childhood surrounded by nature, starting a new sustainable brand, or even saving the environment, one stitch at a time.