Spotlight on Soak&Sleep
Today on the blog I'm featuring Soak&Sleep, a family run business passionate about helping their customers discover products that promote a good night sleep. Their award winning linens are simply divine (I have two sets of my own, the blush pink you will see later in this post) and they have recently launched a children's collection.
You can shop Soak&Sleep through the button below
And it is perfect timing, because today is World Sleep Day and March is National Bed Month.
World Sleep Day (today 16th March) is about promoting the effects sleep deprivation can have on quality of life, health and productivity (it costs the USA $4 billion per annum) and how to better aid sleep, something I'm a bit evangelical about given I regularly lack sleep from staying in hotel rooms. There really is nothing like your own bed and environment.
so how do you create better sleep?
- stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule
- avoid napping if possible
- practice a relaxing bedtime ritual; for me reading a good book (sometimes with candles lit), a pillow spray, the lights low, good bedlinen and a quality mattress and pillows.
- evaluate your room, is it too light? warm? noisey?
- try and exercise to promote sleep
So now let's go and read the journey of founder Charlie, why he started and where Soak&Sleep have got to today.
1. What was the reason behind you starting your business?
I started the business with one aim, and that was to bring excellent quality product to the consumer at a better price than what was available on the high street. I noticed a couple of things… firstly, there was a gap in the market for providing pillows and duvets directly to people’s homes, rather than them having to lug everything around the shops themselves. We started 10 years ago and online shopping wasn’t the same back then. Secondly, I was annoyed that we as the consumer were being forced to pay such high prices for such poor quality. I was convinced I could make and sell better products, and I have! We’re a family run business and by being online-only, selling directly to the consumer we are able to offer high street beating prices for excellent quality product.
2. How did you start up?, kitchen table? Mum’s garage, renting premises?
I launched Soak&Sleep, originally called Duvet & Pillow Warehouse, from my bedroom (where else?!), with a $100 website. I scoured the world’s factories (from afar, at first) for the right product to kick off my mission for excellence. From there, the word spread, sales came and the brand grew. It’s been incredibly hard work and has taken a far bit of grit and determination to keep going at times but the need was there! To think we’ve been going for a decade and Soak&Sleep now has a team of over 20 people, each of whom shares my passion for creating the products needed for the best night’s sleep, is incredibly rewarding.
3. How did you fund your business?
Everything grew very organically, and there was very little need for huge expenditure up front. I mentioned the website cost $100 - from there, everything went on my credit card.
4. What was the most difficult part of starting up your business? Access to money, advice, finding people to buy, marketing etc?
To work with the best factories and create the best product, I had to pretend we were one of the best, and biggest companies, before we really were! Persuading factories that we were on track to be a multi-million pound business when in fact we were only turning over £10,000 was a challenge, to say the least. The factories impose a minimum order quantity that was a lot more than I needed… I had to put all of my charm on the front line to get past the hurdle. Thankfully we still work with a lot of the factories. I think they’ve forgiven me!
5. What help was missing for you?
When you start a business you have to be a jack of all trades. From the buying to marketing, accounts and everything in between, all the functions of the business fall to you until you’re able to afford to pay someone to help. As Soak&Sleep has grown I’ve been able to build a wonderful team of sleep enthusiasts… sleep experts! We now have all areas of a functioning business in place, and I’m so glad I have a few minds to bounce ideas around with. We pull together to move ideas into reality.
6. What went wrong in your first year? Few months if you haven’t been trading that long?
We faced a couple of stumbling blocks in our early days… as a newcomer to the bedding industry we were shaking things up. Disrupting the norm. And our more established competitors didn’t like it. Being a larger company brings benefits when it comes to negotiating with suppliers, and unfortunately for us we were on the receiving end of some of the more cut throat deals, meaning we lost out on working with our chosen factories and manufacturers. This only drove me to search for something better elsewhere. It’s incredible what motivation you can muster from competition!
7. What have you learnt?
It’s a cliche but every day really is a learning curve. There’s always something to explore and understand. I am a firm believer in understanding before delegating. How can I manage a team if I don’t understand what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it. One lesson to take through every day of business… there is absolutely no element of the business that you’re too important to do!
8. What is the most important piece of advice that you could give others thinking about starting a business?
Always assume you don’t know, always show humility, never give up,
9. And what do you enjoy the most?
I love that we deliver our customers something that they can’t get elsewhere. Our product quality and price is second to none, still, and that is such a rewarding fact. And it’s all thanks to the hard work of a brilliant team. I enjoy seeing staff develop and flourish in their role, and get the same thrill from our results as I do.
10. On a scale of 1-10 how hard do you find it to run your own business?
10. Extremely hard.
SoakandSleep Linen in my home
Nicola says "Charlie makes some great points throughout this post.... "When you start a business you have to be a jack of all trades, from the buying to marketing, accounts and everything in between, all the functions of the business fall to you until you’re able to afford to pay someone to help." something I mention time and time again throughout these business posts, you need to be able to handle most things when you start out, take as much "free help" as you can and learn quickly."
" I am a firm believer in understanding before delegating. How can I manage a team if I don’t understand what they’re doing, or how they’re doing it. One lesson to take through every day of business… there is absolutely no element of the business that you’re too important to do!" I've talked about this before, financial management in particular is really important in a business something I think is hardest to get to grips with, BUT if you don't how will you ever know it is being done correctly, that your business is achieving what it should and that you are actually solvent?"
The Girl with the Green Sofa