We are truly grateful to be included in the September 2019 Edition of Lehigh Valley Style Magazine, featuring an Insight article on the Founder & Owner of Beautiful Linens, LLC (BeautifulLinens.com). Many thanks to Lehigh Valley Style for their excellent and genuine write-up. Article below and also online at LehighValleyStyle.com.
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Unger, A. (2019, September). [Insight] Alyssa Budraitis Founder & Owner of Beautiful Linens, LLC. Lehigh Valley Style Magazine / LehighValleyStyle.com, 53-56.
Meet Alyssa Budraitis, Founder & Owner of Beautiful Linens, LLC
BY AMY UNGER | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALISON CONKLIN
The textbook definition of linen is rather bland and basic: cloth woven from flax. But spend a few minutes talking to Alyssa Budraitis, and you’ll quickly learn that there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s a cozy scarf to ward off the winter chill; it’s a table runner for your dinner guests to go gaga for; it’s your favorite set of sheets to sink into after a long week. “[Linen is] just so beautiful and soft, how it wears over time,” says Budraitis. “There are a lot of wonderful qualities about it.” And she should know—she’s the founder and owner of Beautiful Linens, LLC, an online marketplace that offers linens (and other fabrics) in every form imaginable from premier manufacturers from all around the world.
Budraitis, who moved with her family to the Lehigh Valley in the fourth grade, can trace her affinity for textiles to her childhood. “I loved to sew with fabrics,” she recalls. “I would be in the basement, sewing away. My mom would let me have at it.” She describes her earliest efforts— purses, pillows and the like—as rudimentary. She was self-taught, after all, which, in those pre-Google days, meant pouring over books and asking a lot of questions of those who were in the know, rather than surfing for online video tutorials. The desire to create, she says, was strong. But Budraitis also developed a strong interest in information technology and decided to pursue that as a career, partly at the behest of her brother, who was in the same field.
Following her graduation from DeSales University, Budraitis would go on to spend more than two decades with Trexlertown-based Air Products, climbing the corporate ladder all the way up to Vice President and Chief Information Officer. Working for a company that has operations in more than 50 countries meant Budraitis had to have her passport at the ready. “It gave me the opportunity to visit many parts of the world,” she says. And downtime on those trips sometimes presented other possibilities: “I would explore locally, the crafters and weavers in the area.”
And while Budraitis says she enjoyed her work in information technology, she couldn’t deny that something was missing. “At some point you realize, ‘You know, I really want to be doing my heart’s passion,’” she says. Her thoughts returned again and again to the textiles she so loved. She began putting a business plan together, and, in late 2013, during a trip with family to a second home she and her husband, Andy, own in Seneca Lake, New York, made everyone aware of her intentions. She describes the reception to her announcement as cautious. “There’s always the uncertainty of going out on your own,” she says. But by that point, Budraitis was certain that she was moving full steam ahead with starting her own textile business. “No one could stop it,” she says. And she had already settled on a name for her fledgling enterprise: Beautiful Linens. “It reflects what we do, what we sell,” she explains.
The company officially launched in April of 2014 and Budraitis set about growing her product base. Initial offerings included table and kitchen items, with many more categories added over time. Both then and now, she takes the lead in deciding what earns a spot in Beautiful Linens’ stable of goods. “I’m very particular about the relationships we have and the products we select,” she says. “Establishing partnerships is very important to me.”
And those relationships link Budraitis’s Lehigh Valley base to nearly every corner of the globe. She works with manufacturers in Europe (particularly Ireland and Italy), Turkey and South Africa, just to name a few, and she has developed relationships with many boldfaced names in the textile business. “I just want the finest selection for our customers,” she says. “There are so many magnificent weavers and craftsmen out there.”
Budraitis says, in addition to seeking out a certain richness and originality in the quality of the merchandise, she also places a premium on a company’s longevity—its staying power. Indeed, many of the 18 major brands offered by Beautiful Linens have a lineage that can be traced back not just decades, but centuries. For example, Thomas Ferguson Irish Linens has been weaving since 1854. Garnier-Thiebaut, based in France, has been manufacturing table linens since 1833. Belgium’s Libeco has been in the fabric business since 1858. That’s not to say the company’s door isn’t open to creators of a more recent provenance; Beautiful Linens also does business with companies like South Africa’s Mungo (founded in 1998) and New York City-based Bodrum Linens (founded in 1994).
It should also be noted that not all linens are created equal. The highest quality of linen does require a certain level of care to look and perform its best, Budraitis says. But if that’s a commitment a customer’s not inclined to make, there are alternatives. Beautiful Linens offers lower maintenance fabrics as well, like cotton, cashmere, linen blends and some polyester. And with those alternatives come options—lots and lots of options. Beautifullinens.com now offers some 1,100 items—everything from cocktail napkins to beach towels to shower curtains to tote bags. Budraitis’s personal favorite? “Table is a passion for me,” she says. “Everything table top. I love a beautiful table.” Meaning, paper napkins won’t cut it at the Budraitis home. Budraitis says
she and her husband love to entertain and have guests over frequently, but, even when it’s just the two of them getting ready to share a meal, they sit down to a properly set table.
Table accessories are also big sellers among her customers, Budraitis says. Other popular categories include kitchen and bath. The Foxford Woollen Mills line of baby blankets also does well, and pairs perfectly with a handmade, plush stuffed animal from another manufacturer in her inner circle: German toy company Steiff. “They’re a great gift product,” says Budraitis. Another hot-ticket item? Good old-fashioned handkerchiefs for both men and women. Not as a utilitarian item, but rather as a fashion accessory. “It’s a market that’s still extremely popular,” Budraitis says.
Although Beautiful Linens has come a long way since its infancy, Budraitis is just getting started. “I want to take it to the next level of growth. This is just the beginning,” she says. Budraitis is already drawing up a road map for the years ahead. She can easily rattle off a set of goals for the distant future, and for the not so-distant future. Customization services are in the latter category—Budraitis says they already field a lot of requests to personalize or embroider various items. Long-range goals include taking on some design duties in-house, growing the customer base outside of the U.S. and expanding the already ample product line even further. A challenge? Certainly. But it also seems to be the pathway to fulfillment for a woman who’s found the perfect outlet for her blend of business savvy and creative expertise. “I’m having so much fun that I honestly don’t know where the time goes,” Budraitis says.