There is a common thread that links every entrepreneur. They have all gone through a journey, no matter their age and it is always hard to say where personal experience ends and professional life begins. The general feeling is that entrepreneurs are social creatures with ambition and an authentic passion for what they have built.
Eivin Berget, Managing Director of HJ Linen, had a vision since an early age. His journey began when he was only 14 years old. As a young boy, he had always believed that eating was more than just having food. He enjoyed the energy that surrounded the preparation of food and then the family gathering that followed. There was a ritual element around the sharing of memories and a natural tendency of freeing emotions through food. “Eating is a multisensory experience that cannot be replicated by any other product. It is about gathering with people that you love and to be pleased by the touch, smell and sight of food. In that moment in time the act of eating with loved ones creates a memory, an experience, this is something unique only replicated by the act of eating.” Ultimately, Eivin has always had an entrepreneurial mind with an objective of opening a restaurant.
However, when he told his parents they labelled Eivin’s plan as “a ridiculous idea”. His parents were more pragmatic so he decided that he needed to show he was knowledgeable about the industry in order to convince them that he could pursue his dream. After school, he moved to Marbella to study at Les Roches and after working for a few years in Spain and in London and getting an MBA at École Hôtelière de Lausanne, he decided that London was the place that could nurture his talent. He joined Sketch and advanced to the position of F&B Manager and General Manager, spending almost eight years in the company. That was a unique experience that confirmed his consideration that delivering a high-quality service goes beyond great food.
To support this argument, he describes eating as a holistic experience, “Whenever guests enter a restaurant, ambience is the first thing they interact with, it’s so important. Every client is different so our role is to condense their emotions into one single space and moment in time.” In other words, restaurants have a great responsibility to recreate a scene or evocate a moment by focusing on the details that make their experience unique.
As he progressed in his career, Eivin started to realise that delivering quality for just one place was not what he wanted. As Managing Partner for Gaucho, Eivin was happy with his career achievements, but soon started feeling he had a responsibility to help and assist the industry to evolve by striving for excellence. With more and more restaurants dominating the London scene, money is no longer the key to success, while the ability to engage and give an experience is, particularly if it is unique or exceptional.
Bearing in mind this objective, Eivin saw a gap in the market where he could try to educate businesses and help them in delivering a unique product by enhancing the experience for their guest. HJ Linen was a chance to respond to the specific need for the industry to deliver high-quality design and be competitive in the marketplace. The idea came out of the premise that Eivin and his partner know the product and the industry, but more importantly they know that people care about design and quality. After two years, HJ Linen now offers quality bespoke linen hire, design and laundry service for some of the UK capital’s most celebrated high-end restaurants and hotels. It is an exciting moment for foodservice businesses across the UK, so Eivin’s vision is very well-placed in a dynamic city like London that has a great demand but also wants to see change and creativity.
According to national statistics issued by DEFRA, meals consumed out of the home in the UK accounted for £87.6bn, yet restaurants could be hugely affected by the growing takeaway market, which is now worth £30bn. Design, ambience and experience could then be the answer for restaurants to remain competitive and to push diners to experience food rather than just ordering it. “Our aim is to push the boundaries by offering a tailored product – to recreate an individual experience around the hotel and restaurant’s design.”
Sometimes they also have some bizarre requests but this is what makes their product unique. Some clients will come to them with a clear idea while others need to be led, like in every business. “One of our clients asked us to produce some Kendo armour aprons, so we did.” The vision of HJ Linen comes with the acknowledgement that every client is different as much as their guests. This is why HJ designers always source new and unique materials and design contemporary visual experiences that are both innovative and tailored. By helping restaurants achieve the highest standards of presentation, HJ Linen creates individual style that guests remember. This is only the beginning of Eivin’s entrepreneurial journey and it can only be a successful one.