By Krystian von Speidel
3:21 PM EDT, September 27, 2011
occupation: owner of Labrazel Home Luxury Bath Accessories
found at: Labrazel Home (West Hartford)
What was your earliest ambition?
In first grade I wanted to be a crossing guard. The nicest lady, whom we fondly called Mimi, crossed me and my friends as we walked to school every day. I thought she had the best job in the whole world!
How long have you been in business? Why the move to the new location on LaSalle Road from Farmington Avenue?
We opened on Farmington Avenue nine years ago and, at the time, were thrilled to find any vacant spot in West Hartford Center. Although we have successfully built up our business over these past nine years, the location was a bit out of the everyday foot traffic. The opportunity to be more visible and more conveniently located in the heart of the center is one I could not pass up.
What is the origin of your shop's name?
Labrazel is a combination of my name and my husband's name — Lauren and Brad Zeligson. When my husband founded the Labrazel bath-accessory wholesale company in 1997 he created the name — Labrazel, LLC. When I opened the retail store five years later we decided to further the brand name and create Labrazel Home, LLC.
Other than polyester sheets, what else makes you cringe?
Dirty down! I am told that over 90 percent of the down in imported [comforters] to this country is Chinese duck down. We sell only the finest European goose down that is all hypoallergenic and goes through a very thorough cleansing process!
What makes for a luxurious bathing experience?
Nice soaps, foaming baths, natural sea sponges and lotions to follow, of course, but the final and most important touch is a luxurious and absorbent towel. Our towels are thick and thirsty, made of the finest Egyptian cotton and wrap around you like a soft and supple blanket.
What makes Labrazel Home unique and special?
I think when you come to Labrazel Home it is an experience. You are surrounded by beautiful things in a relaxing environment with staff that are friendly and well-trained. Not only can you be inspired to freshen up your bedroom or bathroom, but we can make it easy to do so.
If you could change one thing about everyone's bedroom and bathroom, what would it be?
Out with the old and in with the new. There is nothing worse than cheap sheets and those old crunchy towels that really need to be tossed. I always tell my customers that for the price of a few nights in a nice hotel, they could have a set of our best sheets and sleep on them every night for years and years to come!
Oddest anecdote from your years in business?
Our very first Center Sale Days, a young lady came in with her baby, laid her down on our display bed and proceeded to change a dirty diaper. After recovering from shock, I quickly went to her and explained that the bedding she had her baby on was quite valuable and was not a public changing table. She told me that it was only a wet diaper, as if that made it OK.
What would you suggest from your shop for a man exploring candle options more sophisticated than plain old vanilla?
There are so many great choices, but my top pick would be The Penthouse candle from Lafco, N.Y., in handblown white with black trim art glass, 100 percent soy wax, champagne fragrance — this candle defines sophistication!
Do you make your bed every day at home?
I must admit, my bed is made everyday. I try to sample most of the products in the store so that I can honestly endorse what we sell. As a result, I love my bedding and always want it too look its best.
Biggest mistake people make when choosing linens for their home?
They focus on threadcount alone, when the quality of the threads and the finishing process actually are more important. If you have a low-quality fiber and a poor finish, the more threads per square cannot compensate for the lack of quality. A European sheet spun from true Egyptian cotton will be luxurious and long-lasting due to the durability of the long-staple cotton and the centuries-old finishing processes that have yet to be replicated anywhere else in the world.
What do you consider the perfect hostess gift?
Either a pair of beautifully embroidered guest towels or our exquisite French tea towels with a triple-milled soap to top it off. Something elegant, useful and wonderfully fragrant when opened! I always like to suggest a gift that is a bit pampering and something that people would not likely buy for themselves.
Soap on a rope: delightful or declasse?
Not an option — for us anyway. We have yet to see any French-milled soaps offered on a rope.
Has anyone ever insisted on getting into one of your shop's perfectly made beds to “test drive” the sheets?
No, thank goodness! Our beds are fluffed and puffed daily to look their best. We keep small boudoir pillows covered in most of our sheeting so people can feel the difference between the options — but no test driving!
Do you consider your carbon footprint?
We recycle as much as possible. We would like to do more.
What ambitions do you still have?
We redesigned our e-commerce website last year and just began blogging. I hope to build up the blog and add many more products to the website this year. I also hope to build our local customer base and expand our product offerings now that we are in a much more visible location with increased foot traffic.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
She would be very surprised. She was planning on being an investment banker, bound for Wall Street. Having grown up with a dad in retail all his life, she would have never guessed this would be her path.
Preferred nighttime reading?
A light novel that is too good to put down. Unfortunately, I find many nights are filled with reading e-mails and the newspapers I didn't have time to read that morning.
Do what you do and do it well! I believe in living with conviction and purpose. In business, this motto means you focus on your key business and don't try to be everything to everyone.
Most proud of?
How the store has evolved and where we are today. The last nine years have been wonderful as we have developed a loyal customer base that feel like family to us and as we have learned who and what we should be to best serve this community. We look forward to continuing to evolve in our new home.
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