Minnesotans don't take big risks in the bedroom — the most popular selling colors for bed linens are white and its blander cousins ivory and beige.
Colette Jaffe wants to change that.
Her new boutique in Martin Patrick 3 in Minneapolis' North Loop neighborhood sells red, lavender and maize colored sheets for the daring. But, in a nod to her Minnesota roots, she sells white and beige with hints of color.
A white sheet may get a sophisticated but subtle color infusion with a solitary swath of yellow, gray and black pearls in a line across the sheet and pillowcases. In another of the design, thin reeds of gray, white and black provide color bursts without looking garish.
"There's a disconnect between what's happening in fashion and our sheets," she said. "I want to bring the emotional connection that people have for fashion into the bedroom."
Jaffe spent more than 20 years in the luxury linens business working for Pratesi and other lines, some of which retail for up to $2,000 for a queen set. Her queen sets are priced around $500.
"My sheets are not at the level of Pratesi and I don't claim them to be," she said. "I found ways to lower the price like not putting as much detail into the flat sheet stitching." Most Americans, unlike Europeans, tuck in their flat sheet, hiding the details, she said.
Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, which focuses on affluent consumers, said that Jaffe's products have to stand out at the $500 price point. "The embroidery is a point of difference, but it needs to really elevate them above comparable quality," she said. "Even affluent shoppers look for value, and they can often find it on the internet at Parachute and Boll & Branch."
Jamie McGrath, a recent visitor to the boutique from Sydney, Australia, liked the subtle doses of color. "It's difficult to get color in a sophisticated way in bedding," she said. "She nailed it."
Not everyone wants to spend $140 for a pair of pillowcases, but Jaffe said she's positioning herself at the low end of the luxury market. "The luxury bedding market never came back after 2008," she said. "They took their hotel collections only sold in hotels and remade them slightly with different fabric and finish for retail consumers. It allows more people to buy the brand at a less expensive price."
People are spending more money on home accessories again, recent data show.
"Linens and softgoods have been strong in the past year," said Danziger. "People are investing more to make their homes a comfortable safe haven."
Wayne Zink of Minneapolis, who is in the process of building a new home at Village Lofts in Minneapolis, decided to splurge after seeing Jaffe's collection. "We looked online and in Chicago but the way that she's finished them is incredibly soft. We love the design," he said. He bought a king set with a duvet, paying far less than he did for Pratesi in the past. "Her designs are unique and local. We want to support that."
Martin Patrick 3, an eclectic store with menswear, furniture and interior design service, wasn't planning on adding a bedding section. Jaffe approached co-owner Greg Walsh about a year ago. "I hadn't thought about boutique linens. We had a little bit of Missoni and Ligne Roset," he said. "But we thought it was better to do it big or don't do it. Colette brings traditional and modern together gracefully."
Despite nearly 25 years in the business, Jaffe is no sheet snob. She doesn't believe that higher thread count makes for a better sheet. Her Italian-made sheets have a thread count of 300 in a sateen finish. The fitted sheet is fully elasticized with a 17-inch depth for thicker mattresses. But she does use Egyptian cotton, which is softer and stronger than Pima, she said.
By the end of the year, Jaffe plans to launch her products online. She'd like to expand in other retailers, but starting with Martin Patrick 3 was deliberate. "The owners Greg and Dana are sophisticated, cool and fun," she said. "Just like I hope my line is."