We’re all well aware of the importance of a good nights sleep. Not only does it boost brain performance, but it also has a huge effect on our mood and overall health. The reality is getting that elusive 8-hours we all yearn for is far from easy given the trappings of modern life. So, anything that can be done to make that perfect kip less of a dream, we do it.
One brand that can definitely help in that particular area are Ethical Bedding. Founded in 2020, this company has been on a mission to bring incredibly sustainable yet luxurious bedding products to the UK market. They do this by manufacturing from 100% sustainably grown eucalyptus, so their range of luxurious duvets, sheets, pillows and more are naturally softer than cotton, and boast the same properties as silk, and with the added bonus of being completely free of toxic chemicals.
We recently caught up with company founder James Higgins to find out how Ethical Bedding came about, the pitfalls the business has faced along the way and what makes them special. Without any further ado, let’s Meet the Brand.
The MALESTROM: We’re all about championing brands we love here at The MALESTROM, why don’t you tell our readers a bit about Ethical Bedding and how the business came about?
James Higgins: After spending a decade working in financial services, I knew that I needed a change. So, in 2019, I started looking for consumer products that could improve people’s lives, whilst also giving back to the community and being kind to the planet. I didn’t want to just sell ‘stuff’ to people on the internet – that didn’t sit well with me at all.
The more research I did into sleep and different textiles, I knew that I had found our niche. Eucalyptus is such a wonder fabric for sleep but is also so much kinder to the planet than traditional bedding textiles.
As well as accountancy, my background is in designing highly complex organisations – plus I also had previous e-commerce businesses, so we had a bit of a head start compared to many other start-ups.
TM: What are some of the pitfalls you’ve faced along the way?
JH: There have been countless ones. Ask any business owner and the majority will tell you that it’s a constant stream of problems and solutions!
It’s all about controlling the controllables though, and learning from mistakes that we make along the way.
A few highlights of problems and pitfalls include:
– V1 product failures and a need to establish an entirely new supply chain
– COVID-19 forcing shipping rates up 400-500% (which makes up a large part of our COGS)
– iOS14 updates meaning data tracking became really weak and killed off a chunk of our marketing funnel
– GBP/USD exchange rates going through the floor (~$1.25 to ~$1.08) in around 12 months
The list goes on and on. These are just a few highlights!
TM: What is your ethos? And how important is it to the brand?
JH: I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint my personal ‘ethos’ in a sentence, however, I absolutely adore nature and the natural world – I have a highly overactive mind, so it’s one of the few things that brings me genuine peace. It activates all of my senses and fills me with joy.
In addition to this, I feel that there isn’t enough kindness in the world sometimes. Kindness towards ourselves, towards one another and towards the planet. I would never run a business that didn’t align with these core values of just taking what you need from the planet, whilst actively engaging in charitable donations and spreading a little bit of joy whilst improving people’s lives.
My vision for how I would like the world to be underpins everything that we do as a business.
TM: Given your name, supplying ethical products must be at the very heart of Ethical Bedding?
JH: Of course! We are an award-winning BCorporation – we give at least 1% of our revenue to global sustainability initiatives annually and we ensure that there is a perfect balance between product longevity and environmental impact.
Does it make things more complicated and expensive? Yes. However, are we proud of what we do and can we sleep better at night? Yes.
Fundamentally, all businesses should be doing the right thing. The world that we live in now is driven by large corporations that sadly don’t always do the right thing. One day, when we are a big business, it’ll make me even more proud to think that maybe we helped lead the way a little bit.
TM: Tell us more about your products?
JH: They’re the best! We are known for our eucalyptus sheets, but also have a range of filled goods including pillows, duvets, protectors and toppers. Our recently launched Home Fragrances range includes soy-coco wax candles, mists and essential oils. It’s extremely difficult to get a perfume grade blend smelling quite as good as ours – so they really are impressive!
We are also launching our mattresses at the start of 2023, and true to our innovative approach to all our products, they will be made using a non-dyed organic cotton, coconuts, recycled denim, hemp and bamboo. Pretty cool huh?
It’s amazing what you can do if you just put a little bit more thought into your product range. Something that is non-negotiable for me is the quality of our entire range. I’m incredibly proud of all the feedback we get from our customers who have had their sleep transformed as a result of Ethical Bedding products.
TM: What’s the most popular item right now?
JH: Our pillows are incredibly popular – they’re made using eucalyptus for the shell and are filled with a blend of air blown bamboo and post-consumer recycled bottles.
Our ‘eucalyptus silk’ pillowcases are also a best seller, given the attractive price point in comparison to real silk and boasting all the same properties for hair and skin. In addition to this, they are 100% cruelty-free and Vegan Society approved.
It’s our bundles that we sell the most of, which include a fitted sheet, duvet cover and a pair of pillowcases.
We find that a lot of customers come back time and again. After sleeping in our range, it’s really difficult to go back to something of lesser quality.
TM: What’s made your business stand out in the marketspace?
JH: Unbelievably impressive, highly innovative products coupled with a seamless customer experience. We put our customer experience and their sleep at the heart of what we do, which really sets us apart in the market.
Ethical Bedding is an award-winning BCorp, we’re Vegan Society approved, cruelty free and carbon neutral. We want our customers to feel good about what they are buying.
TM: What does the future have in store? What are your aims?
JH: Well, you’ll have to wait and see. I can’t say too much – but I’ll be a lot more visible personally from Q1 2023 onwards.
In terms of products, we have heaps of new lines launching throughout 2023 and we will be expanding into the USA, Canada and Europe with a more tailored customer experience by geography.
TM: What advice would you have for anyone thinking of starting their independent business?
JH: There’s too much to write in just a few sentences. But the best piece of advice I would give is to make sure that you love what you do, because if you don’t, it can become much more difficult to navigate the inevitable difficult times.
TM: How important is it to engage with other like-minded brands and makers?
JH: It’s so key. More so than I had realised. From opening up opportunities, to sharing ideas and adding two-way value.
As part of our business model this year, I will be personally engaging with other business owners more visibly through a series of podcasts. So, if you, or anyone you know would like to have a chat, then please get in touch!
TM: What’s your favourite independent brand? Who would you nominate for us to feature next?
JH: Ethical Bedding is my favourite independent brand. Next question please! I would like to nominate Wick Fragrances to feature next. They are currently expanding into the UK and Lauren is a wonderful businesswoman as well as a good friend.
TM: How can people track you down?
JH: You can currently find me on most social media platforms, in fact, it’ll be difficult to avoid me soon. On Instagram i’m @inbedwithjames (please be warned, I’m a little eccentric!). For LinkedIn and serious stuff search James Higgins (Ethical Bedding).
Check out the full range at: www.ethicalbedding.com
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