Today we’d like to introduce you to Ben Ray.
Ben, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
For more than a decade, I have traveled the United States working in the textile industry. I have always been on the sales side of small Maine businesses (Angela Adams on the west coast, Transformit and Brahms Mount here in Maine). At a certain point, it just made more sense to branch off and do something on my own. It’s an evolution of taking the good and the bad from other companies and going at it with honest intentions.
The goal is to create something that represents you and what you stand for. Evangeline, named after Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, is my new textile company. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a Portland native.) I’m making heirloom-quality Maine bed blankets and throws and am selling them across the country in small boutique stores and high-end linen shops.
I am proud to own my own company and to be able to execute my own vision for luxury, high-quality goods. My blankets are made on antique looms and will last 25+ years – seriously. I’m proud of the Maine connection too, as it inspires me every day. It’s great to be able to support the textile industry here. I’m so excited to grow and be able to expand and hire more people to join my team.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish that if I could say that starting a business was smooth, simple and a piece of cake. It’s just not. [A least not for me]. There are just so many steps that you need to take in order to even get to the point of selling something. When you think that you’ve got it covered, something new pops up. It can be overwhelming. It can bring you and your business to a halt. I’ve failed. I’ve failed a lot.
The idea of creating something from an idea and growing it into a brand that is recognizable is really an amazing feat. I want my blankets to be on thousands of people’s beds. I want Evangeline to be a trusted, and reliable, and to be a must-have. That’s an idea worth facing failure for. I’ve learned to fail quickly, to push through bad ideas to get to the better ones and to never make the same mistake twice.
Evangeline Linens – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Evangeline Linens is a small (but focused!) textile company based in Portland, Maine. We sell our heirloom quality pieces in high-end linen shops across the US, Canada and Europe. All of our bed blankets are made right here in Maine.
The natural beauty of Maine is all too often overlooked. As a native Mainer, I regularly stop and spend a moment in wonder and appreciation of this. Ledges and seaweed, forests of tall pines, the spectacle of the seasons – life in Maine is simple and rugged while the people are straightforward and honest. My wife Alessandra and I have chosen to remain in Maine and raise our children Atticus and Harlow here.
In short, Maine is home with all the warmth associated with that term. And it’s where we intend to grow old together. In every Evangeline piece, I hope that I’ve captured a bit of the wild, the resilience, and the warmth of Maine with simple materials woven to be used daily.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
That’s a hard one. I’m honestly proud when a client emails or calls with positive feedback or a simple reorder.
Recently a terrific client in Nantucket, The Lion’s Paw, wrote a quick note saying that ‘Evangeline was selling GREAT’. Her words! Those are the moments.
- Made in Maine Pinstripe Blanket – Queen $363
- Herringbone Cashmere/Merino Wool Throw $264
- Alpaca Throw – Fog $407
- Address: 182 Craigie Street Portland, Maine 04102
- Website: www.evangelinelinens.com
- Phone: 2078076949
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @evangelinelinens
Meredith Brockington, founder of AMIE, super-star photographer