NYLP: Welcome to the New York Launch Pod, a podcast on new start-ups, businesses, and openings in the New York City area. I’m Hal Coopersmith and in this episode, we’re talking about pillows. Kalle Simpson, founder of Night, steps onto the New York Launch Pod, to discuss her $150 pillow. That’s right. A $150 pillow. I couldn’t believe it when I first heard it myself, but the pillow has been selling incredibly well, and has a celebrity following. Here’s Kalle, on why her pillow is worth it.
Kalle: Why would you spend $20 on a pillow? It’s kind of concerning, that you’re investing so little in a product that spends so much time with you. You’re going to spend a third of your life with this product. It’s the only product that’s going to spend that much intimate time with your most important beauty assets, your face and your hair.
NYLP: The moneymaker.
Kalle: Yeah. Why you’re just going home and sleeping on a crappy $20 pillow, that’s the question I should be asking you, not the opposite.
NYLP: The pillow is sold online and in stores, including Bed Bath and Beyond, and Bloomingdale’s, because traditional retailers are looking for a new product category. Here’s Kalle Simpson again.
Kalle: We also really believe in this hybrid category of sleep and beauty. We think they should exist together. It makes so much sense that they do. Our pillow focuses on beauty and wellness benefits, which is completely different from the very functional sleep story that everyone else is pushing.
NYLP: Kalle has a lot of experience in the bedding industry and it shows throughout the episode. Without any further ado, let’s go to the interview. Stepping onto the Launch Pod, we have Kalle Simpson, the co-founder of Night. Welcome Kalle.
Kalle: Thanks Hal. Thanks for having me here.
NYLP: Let’s start here. You make a pillow and you sell it for $150.
Kalle: That’s correct. You cannot put a price tag on good sleep.
NYLP: You cannot put a price tag on good sleep. Why does your pillow make good sleep?
Kalle: Many reasons why. First and foremost, I’m a product person. I come from the sleep industry. I spent a decade there, before launching Night, and actually worked for the biggest bedding manufacturer in the world. Have a ton of experience there, and learned a lot about sleep, and about creating a quality product. There’s a lot available in the bedding industry, but not a lot being done. What we wanted to do different was, take all the innovation available and really apply it to one product.
Our product focuses not on only making a better sleep, which it does through being, first and foremost, very, very comfortable, having support quality unparalleled, having the temperature regulating properties, and even having properties that encourage melatonin production. More than that, it also actually has a beauty story, which benefits that, really the sleep category’s not pushing. It does more than just sleep, but first and foremost, we want it to be a really comfortable sleep product.
NYLP: You spent a decade in the sleep industry. What did you learn?
Kalle: I learned a lot, a lot about manufacturing and product development. The sleep industry in itself, they’re not marketing people at all. It’s a pretty stagnant quality, so it doesn’t focus on innovation, but it does focus on infrastructure, supply chain, and product itself. I learned how to make a product, and I learned a lot about the materials available.
The problem was, they just weren’t being utilized. We would have meetings with, kind of think tank quality to it, but none of those would actually Extrapolate, because it was never going to be an investment in marketing. It’s kind of a cash cow industry. It’s a need, so everyone’s going to buy sleep products. They don’t really feel the need to innovate them. I learned a lot about what was available, but they weren’t being made, which is really where the idea came from to make products with what was available out there.
NYLP: You saw this need. There wasn’t innovation. Then you came out with the Night pillow. What specifically about this Night pillow makes it the best pillow in the world, which is, I’m sure what you believe.
Kalle: Well, first and foremost, it’s the most comfortable product I’ve ever experienced personally. When we were making the product, that was really important to us. I’m kind of embarrassed to say this, but I was in the category for 10 years. Specifically, I made pillows and distributed them for about five, working again for the largest bedding manufacturer in the world.
NYLP: Which is what?
Kalle: Tempur. Sealy. Tempurpedic and Sealy are now one company. I worked for a subsidiary of them. My customers, I had about 350 accounts with me. Anyone from a Costo, Sam’s Club, to Bed Bath & Beyond. You name a major retailer I sold to. I’m embarrassed to say this, but I never slept on our product. I didn’t think I was a customer of what we were selling.
NYLP: I heard great things about the Tempurpedic bed though.
Kalle: Yeah. I think that everyone defines quality differently. For them, they’re producing a product that’s to the specs of their retail partner. Retailers give you, usually a spec deck and you develop a product out that way. You’re not really looking at what you would sleep on. What you be comfortable, your family opening up their wallet for, or your friend opening up their wallet for?
When we were developing product, that’s how we looked at it. Our name was going to be behind it, so we wanted a product that added value. It didn’t take away from this product that was already built. It wasn’t just a different marketing story. It was a new and innovative product, and it was a product that we would pay that money for, that I would be comfortable with my friends and family opening up their wallet for. That’s kind of how we approached it from a product development standpoint.
NYLP: What is innovative about this pillow?
Kalle: First and foremost, if you just look at it, aesthetically, it’s a black pillow, which seems super simple, but it’s a complete paradigm shift. The pillow category is called The White Goods category. Utility bedding in general. Mattress protectors, pillow protectors, pillows, mattresses, they’re called The White Goods category. We’re making a black pillow that’s completely different, just aesthetically from what you see out there. We also really believe in this hybrid category of sleep and beauty. We think they should exist together. It makes so much sense that they do.
Our pillow focuses on beauty and wellness benefits, which is completely different from the very functional sleep story that everyone else is pushing. And then, our branding … Just like we wanted to make a product that we’d be comfortable ourselves sleeping on, we wanted to tell the story in the way we would tell it to our friends and family, so with a really authentic voice, that isn’t super polished and super pc. All of that makes it very different from what the category typically is positioned as.
NYLP: I go into a store, and I see one pillow. A classic, what’s called a, White Good Pillow for $20, and then I see your pillow for $150, and I say, “Oh my God. Look at this $150 pillow.” Why are people buying this $150 pillow?
Kalle: Well, our pillow, number one is a pillow, plus a pillow case. It’s a complete sleep system. You have to look at it like that. It’s a pillow case, and a pillow. Typically, the pillow component of it, is this proprietary memory foam, that we developed that’s extraordinary. Memory foam pillows on average will go … I mean Tempurpedic sells their memory foam pillows anywhere from $100 to $200.
And then our silk pillowcase, which is the second component … We source it from couture suppliers. This has never been used before in bedding. This is literally for like, wedding gowns and couture dresses. Super, super high-end. If you were to go buy a pillowcase in the market, just a normal silk pillowcase, you’re talking about $100. As far as justifying the price point, it’s very easy to do so.
In general, thinking about, why would you spend $20 on a pillow, it’s kind of concerning that you’re investing so little in a product that spends so much time with you. You’re going to spend a third of your life with this product. It’s the only product that’s going to spend that much intimate time with your most important beauty assets, your face and your hair.
NYLP: The moneymaker.
Kalle: Yeah. Why you’re just going home and sleeping on a crappy, $20 pillow, that’s the question I should be asking you, not the opposite.
NYLP: Well, I’m sleeping on it, because, or I used to sleep on it, because it’s soft. I got it and I was like, “This is a soft pillow, and I’m able to sleep on it.”
Kalle: Well, that’s equivalent to saying, you like McDonald’s, because the burger tastes good. Yes. It might fulfill that very basic instant gratification need, but what is it really doing for you? Is it supporting properly? Is it really giving you the best sleep possible? What is it doing, as far as, is it collecting dust mites, allergen, and then re-polluting that on your face? Are any of these things even thought about? You know, I think that’s the bigger issue. I get it, the instant gratification, like, it’s there. It’s behind my head, and I can sleep, but you don’t what the upside is, until you try something better.
NYLP: Well, I’m glad you brought that up, because on your website, which has a great branding aspect to it, which we’ll get to, but you make some claims on the website, which are very fun. I wanted to go through some of those claims, one-by-one, and have you substantiate them.
Kalle: I love this.
NYLP: You love this. First claim. Deeper rest.
Kalle: 100%. One, obviously, as I spoke to, it’s very comfortable. You have to be in a state of relaxation and comfort to really hit your deepest sleep cycle, which is your REM. Two, I mentioned it was black, but I didn’t tell you why it was black. Black is actually the best color to sleep on. Black negates light. I don’t know about you, but I sleep much better in a dark room, than I do in a bright room.
Kalle: That encourages actually your melatonin production. Kind of acting like a built in sleep mask, which puts you in a deeper state of rest, and the open air memory foam, and the silk, helps with a temperature perfect sleep environment. It should also help promote a deeper rest.
NYLP: Well, when I think about black, I also think about heat. I don’t want to wear black during the summer. I get hot when I sleep. How come this pillow isn’t hot?
Kalle: It’s really the fabrication. Yeah, it’s black. You’re right. Black absorbs light. It doesn’t absorb heat. It absorbs light, and light is usually, goes hand-in-hand with heat, except with silk. Silk does not conduct heat. It kind of negates the heat factor build up.
NYLP: Silk is such an important part of your pillow. You mentioned that it’s couture silk. Why is that an important aspect of this whole sleep system?
Kalle: Well, one we talked about with the temperature, just the feel of it. It’s very luxurious, very comfortable. That’s really where, the vast majority of the beauty benefits stem from. Silk being good for your skin and hair, it’s not a new story. Actually remember …
NYLP: That’s claim number two. I was about to get to that.
Kalle: Good. I’m already getting ahead of myself.
NYLP: Claim two is healthier, shinier hair.
NYLP: So, that’s the silk.
Kalle: That’s not a new story.
NYLP: That’s not a new story.
NYLP: Old news.
Kalle: Very old news. Yet, it feels new to a lot of people. You know, I remember being a kid and actually still, my grandma wraps her hair in a silk bonnet at night, to keep her hairstyle intact. That’s just something that kind of got lost in new age. A lot of that’s because of, just the dominance of the cotton industry. Cotton here is king. The US is one of our biggest exports, as a moneymaker. It dominates the home industry. There’s no benefit for them pushing silk. Silk is super expensive. For the bedding industry, it’s much more beneficial to push cotton and really not tell the benefits of silk, or the negative, the downside of cotton.
NYLP: For people where it’s news, talk a little bit more about the benefits of silk.
Kalle: Silk is an amazing fabric. We already talked about how it’s temperature perfect. It keeps cool in the summer, warmer in the winter. How it’s luxurious and soft, but it’s very compatible with the human body. It’s very similar to your hair fibers. The protein structure, the amino acid structure is very similar to hair fibers. Just as hair is, you know, very compatible with skin and with your other hair fibers, as is silk.
Actually there’s tons of studies around it, from it’s hyper-allergenic properties, very few instances in all of history of people being allergic to silk. It repels pollutants, dust mites, allergens. It’s physical composition, is smooth, and glides across your skin and hair. It’s really the perfect fabric for the human body in so many ways. If you look at the applications of it, it’s being used most in the medical field, because of that. From anything from wound recovery, to stitches. You really name it.
The second most popular application for silk is the beauty category. It’s a great fiber for your body. Again, it’s not being pushed here in the US, because it’s not a big industry in the US. For a story to really resonate with an end-user, you have to have a brand, a company behind it.
NYLP: How did you find the silk that you’re using now?
Kalle: We actually have really, really strong resources in the product development side. Through past work history, we were able to connect with someone, who has a great resource in silk. We went through sampling forever, before we got here. It’s kind of a funny story, because the person who was sourcing it for us, thought we were crazy, that we were going so overboard in using the silk fabrication.
NYLP: This high quality silk.
Kalle: Yeah. We kept getting, “This is way too high quality for bedding. Why do you need this for bedding?” Our thought process was, if it’s for wedding gowns and for something you use one time, ever, one time use, how is something that you’re going to be using every single night, how is that too high a quality? We want the best of the best, to a fault. We probably over developed it, but it turned out great. I mean, you can feel it, and it’s second to none. Again, it was really important for us to go over the top when we’re putting our name on a product.
NYLP: Claim number three on your website. Supports clear skin.
Kalle: Yeah. Just like I talked about with the hair, silk is really compatible with the human body. Not only is it gentle on the skin, whereas cotton is pretty abrasive. If you looked at cotton under a microscope, you can actually see the twists, the turns, the uneven surface of cotton, whereas silk is very smooth and will just glide across.
Even more than that, it repels pollutants, dust mite, allergens as I mentioned. As a normal sleep surface will be collecting pollutants in the air, then you’re laying on it for eight hours, and it’s re-depositing them on your face. If you were to go to a dermatologist and you were telling them you were breaking out, one of the first things they will suggest to you is, wash your pillow case more often. Do you notice breakouts during the day, or when you wake up in the morning?
NYLP: I don’t really pay that close attention.
Kalle: You never have breakouts? Your skins just perfect.
NYLP: Not since I’m a teenager. Not since I was a teenager. It might be something about that.
Kalle: Well, it must be nice to be Hal Coopersmith, because …
NYLP: It is, but, you know.
Kalle: Because I know that, I notice breakouts most in the morning. Not anymore, but that’s usually an issue. It’s not something that’s popping up during the day. It’s something that’s popping up at night. I guarantee if people who are not sleeping on the night pillow, were to really think about it, it’s usually accumulating on, if you’re a side sleeper, on a certain side of the face, whatever part of your face is probably interacting with the pillow the most.
NYLP: Why aren’t people using silk sheets then?
Kalle: Well, your face is really the one that’s going to have the most issues with breakouts. It’s the most vulnerable, it’s the most porous. You really have to worry about it more then, but yeah, there’s definitely benefits from silk sheets. The problem with silk, or the challenge with silk I should say, is that it’s cost prohibitive.
Kalle: It’s not a cheap product. You know, it’s natural. It’s usually has to be imported. It’s cost prohibitive for most people. Silk sheets made out of material like we use for our pillow, at retail would run you anywhere from $700 to $1,000.
NYLP: Right, so go for the pillow, which for $150 is a bargain.
Kalle: It’s a steal.
NYLP: It’s a steal. Claim number four, which I love on your website. You know where I’m going with this, gets you laid. This is a bold claim by you.
Kalle: That’s the one we stand behind the most.
NYLP: Stand behind the most?
NYLP: Okay. Now you gotta defend that.
Kalle: Well, 100% first of all, if you’re sleeping well … There’s actually a study that came out, that said, for every extra hour of sleep you get, there’s a 14% more chance. Might be 13, we’ll have to reference the study.
NYLP: Yeah, we have to find the exact study the way that you’re going with this.
Kalle: But there is an increased likelihood, and we’ll fact check the actual percentage of engaging in sexual activity. One, the more extra hour of sleep.
NYLP: Important extra hour of sleep.
Kalle: Yes. I actually … I will tell you that this fact came from Sleep Revolution, Ariana Huffington’s book. We will look up after this interview, to see the exact percentage, but it’s right around where I referenced. Having extra sleep increases libido. Our pillow is designed first and foremost to provide a comfortable night’s sleep, better quality and hopefully more sleep. And then, second, honestly … Let’s be honest. If you look good, and this is anecdotal. I can’t reference a study.
NYLP: Look good. No breakouts.
Kalle: The chances of you engaging in sexual activity, I would have to imagine go up, so I feel like we can fully stand behind that claim.
NYLP: I’m going from a one percent chance of sexual activity, with your pillow, now I’m at 1.14% chance.
Kalle: I would say 1.14. Yeah.
Kalle: At least 1.13.
NYLP: Thank you very much.
Kalle: And, if you have the sexiest pillow in the world in your bed, the chances of you attracting a mate back there, now you have a play. You have a little bait to get them in the trap.
NYLP: Right. Come see this black pillow.
Kalle: Come see this black … I want to show you the most amazing sleep product ever.
NYLP: Exactly. Who are the demographics that you’re targeting with the night pillow?
Kalle: I think we’re targeting a demographic very similar to myself honestly. Our key customer is 26 to 34, urban centric, market mavens willing to try new products. Also, somebody that, maybe doesn’t have time for a very aggressive beauty routine. At the end of the day, our story is beauty made, not just extremely easy, but extremely comfortable.
If you don’t have time to put the extra moisturizer on your face, or honestly even take off your makeup some nights, as embarrassing as that might be to admit, our product is great for you, not thinking twice about it. It’s doing work for you while you’re sleeping. That very busy, very career driven, next level person, typically ends up being female, but we have a growing male demographic. That’s in large part due to females buying our product, and then the product getting stolen or borrowed by who they’re sharing the bed with.
NYLP: And then you get the second pillow purchase.
Kalle: And then we get that second pillow purchase, which is great for us. It’s a way to get new customer acquisition with, without even targeting them, but yeah, cause first and foremost we made a comfortable pillow.
NYLP: I have to imagine that there are some marketing challenges, when you’re marketing a new $150 pillow out there. What have been some of the challenges and how have you overcome them?
Kalle: Definitely been a challenge, because we’re targeting a customer will pay $150 for yoga pants, but to your point, sleeps on a $20 pillow. Reallocation of funds. That’s a tough story. We’ve been extremely, extremely lucky in the fact that we have an awesome product first and foremost. If we get our product in the right hands, hands of somebody who has an established voice and people who already trust them, then they’ll tell our story for us.
Our biggest line item, as far as marketing goes, is sampling. We get it into the hands of people, who already have an audience, and have people’s ears, and let them tell the story. We want them to tell it authentically. They hate it? Tell people they hate it. Tell us specifically why. That’s how we overcome it. We get it in the hands of people who have an audience.
NYLP: You find your nearest Kardashian, give them Night pillows?
Kalle: Yeah. Kardashians have been one of our biggest supporters. We are in Kim’s 2016 gift guide, and didn’t pay a penny for it, which was amazing. Kylie Snap chatted with us. Some of the people in their entourage. Their makeup artist is actually the very first person that ever put us in a PR moment. All of it was blind gifting, and not having any connection with them. Just our product speaking volumes for itself. That’s kind of been our marketing strategy. Make an incredible product and do what we can to get it in the right hands.
NYLP: That was a joke. I didn’t think you actually had a Kardashian, but … How are you able to …
Kalle: No. That’s actually has been some of our …
NYLP: The Kardashian Audience.
Kalle: Literally. The very first Kardashian we ever reached out to, was Mario Dedivanovic. Makeup by Mario. He put us in an Elle magazine article, and Marie Claire, because we just got him the product and he loved it. Then, we reached out to their hair stylist, Jen Atkin, who Snap chatted us.
Then, we just sent one blindly to Kylie, who Snap chatted us. And then we worked with Kim’s team, Steph Shep, who’s her assistant and Kim, and they all organically, believe it or not, shared us. We think we have a product that has no limitations. It has no ceiling. We go for the biggest people we can get the product in the hands of and let them share the story.
NYLP: Any other fun marketing stories that you’ve sent out blind items to, or pillows to?
Kalle: I don’t know if I can say this, but we have a policy in the office. It’s called, Why the F not? We don’t usually say F. We just say, why the, not? We reach out to whoever, because again, Ariana Huffington … I’m a contributor. We have a whole column in Huffington Post that was blind reach out to. Bruno Mars, Olivia Munn, Aaron Rodgers.
All those kinds of people have been just blind reach out’s that we’ve gotten response from, from having a great story. It’s been great, but again, it goes back to, first and foremost, having a really, really strong product. I’d say 1 out of 20 respond. We reach out to a lot of people that ghost, but the ones who do, and actually get our product, we usually are able to re-salvage something with them.
NYLP: What did you do to get started with your company?
Kalle: Well, it was a long process. It was a while, before we actually launched. What we first did, honestly was just get very excited about the idea of everything. That excitement propelled us through all the challenges of starting up. The idea of everything we were going to do, I think attracted a lot of people to support us. First and foremost, we started going down the path of developing a product. Can’t launch without a product. We worked with our resources, and started finding ways to put together this complete package story. And then, from there, once you have a product and you kind of have a vision, you start raising money.
We went through the process of getting together capital, and you need to get an infrastructure, who’s going to continue to manufacture this product? Where is it going to be distributed from? The sales plan? Where we come from, mainly a retail relationship structure, me and my business partner. We didn’t sell direct to consumer. We sold to major retailers. Getting together a plan for how we were going to grow business on the direct to consumer. And then, our ultimate plan of what retail partnerships we wanted to explore. First and foremost we wanted to get something tangible to show people. We started developing the product.
NYLP: Where is the product made?
Kalle: The vast majority of the products made here in the US, which we’re really proud of. I actually fly out on a 6 a.m. flight tomorrow to our manufacturer to Detroit. The memory foam and some of the other components are made right there. And then, the high-end silk comes from China, which most silk comes from China.
NYLP: What was the process in developing the product? How many iterations of pillows did you have?
Kalle: It’s exhausting to even think about, honestly.
NYLP: It’s exhausting. All that sleep was exhausting.
Kalle: Oh my gosh. Yes. I wish I could say it was easy as just sleeping, but no. Thousands. We kind of opened up the floodgates, when it came to what we were willing to try and experiment. We had so many connections in the bedding industry from a manufacturing standpoint. Anyone we had relationships with, or anyone we knew of, which was pretty much everyone, who makes any type of bedding product, we opened up the opportunity to send us samples.
We worried, because we’ve been in the industry for so long, that they would think we were comping their samples, or trying to compete with them, and not actually be customers of them. We made fake email addresses and fake names, and asked them to just send all these samples to us. Hundreds and hundreds of different components that we put together into thousands of configurations, we tried out.
It was an exhausting product. That was probably the most exhausting part of the process, was trying to find something that was going to be our first product, our hero product, that we were comfortable enough to launch, and quit our full-times jobs, and our careers that we had built, and put our name behind. Yeah. Thousands.
NYLP: How long did that process take?
Kalle: About a year. About a year of constant iterations and follow-up and changes, and second guesses, before we got to a place we were happy.
NYLP: And then, when did you know that you had the Night pillow, that you had the product?
Kalle: It’s interesting to ask that question, because I think it’s what people would say of, when did you know you met your significant other? It’s like, you just knew. When the components came in … When the foam especially … When we found this foam that we were really happy with, the second we felt it, we knew. We literally poured a glass of scotch, each of us, because were so excited that we had finally found what we had been looking for.
NYLP: The one true foam.
Kalle: The one true … Yeah. Our soulmate component piece.
NYLP: And how much money did you need to start the business?
Kalle: We raised $225,000 from an angel investor to really fund us and get us going in building infrastructure we needed.
NYLP: And there are other beauty pillows out there. I Googled before the interview. Seems like you’re not the only beauty pillow out there. What differentiates you from your competitors?
Kalle: We are not the only kid on the block, which is interesting, cause before we got into this, being in the sleep industry, I never really heard of other beauty pillows. It’s not a huge story, but yeah, there’s definitely others on the block. The big differentiator, is you have pillow cases that have beauty benefits to them. Then you have pillows that are ergonomic contraptions, designed to position your head in a certain way. You don’t really have one that combines sleep with beauty, that’s really comfortable, and also has the beauty benefits. On the sleep side, you have really comfortable pillows, but they may not be the best for your beauty and wellness game. First and foremost, we’re a complete of both. We’re no more beauty, than we are sleep, and no more sleep than we are beauty. We’re really focused on both and contribute both. Even our component pieces, or a pillow case and a pillow. We really had this duality factor that I haven’t seen other products in this space have.
NYLP: You mentioned this earlier. You’re trying to convince people not to spend $150 on something else, not on yoga pants for example, to spend it on a pillow. How’s that marketing play been going?
Kalle: Well, I’m not trying to convince them not to spend it on yoga pants. I’m trying to convince them to also spend it on the Night pillow, because again, sleep will contribute to your productivity, will contribute to your quality of life. How has the marketing play been going? Like I said, our biggest thing is getting it into the hands of people, who have influence and letting them authentically tell the story.
And then on the other end, what we do for our customers, we back it up with a 101 night sleep trial. If you’re not happy with the pillow for any way. I don’t care if it’s because it shipped a day later than it was supposed to. You get 100% refund. And to be honest, It goes way beyond the 101 nights. We’re not scared to say that. We embrace returns. It’s not hard to find on our website how to make a return. You email customer service, or you call us. You’ll get an answer right away.
We’re happy to take the product back, because I don’t want somebody’s money if they’re not happy with what they purchased. If we get that feedback and understand why, that’s helpful for us. We can improve our product and improve our services and ultimately grow from that. We’re not trying to trick people or take money away from what they’re already spending it on, we’re trying to just show that we are the value that we’re asking for.
NYLP: You invest $150 in the pillow. If you don’t like it, money back.
NYLP: Sounds like a great deal. And you also had some retail partners that you work with. Your direct to consumer online, but it seems like you can get the pillow at Bed Bath & Beyond?
Kalle: Bed Bath & Beyond’s one of our retail partners.
NYLP: That’s a big one.
Kalle: Yeah. Our biggest at the moment is probably Bloomingdale’s or Anthropologie, which we’re also available at.
NYLP: Also some big retail partners.
Kalle: Correct. And then, 2017 for us has been really developing that channel, which is very important from us, from a marketing standpoint, new customer acquisition standpoint. It’s really where we see our growth coming from. We’ll be launching with QVC here very shortly. And then we have conversations going with Nordstrom and Sephora. Hopefully, we’ll also be in those places very shortly.
NYLP: So, these big retailers are buying up your pillow?
Kalle: Yeah. Of course. It’s a great product.
NYLP: Of course. What was the sale like? What was the process like, getting in with these retailers, now that you’re in with one, or a couple? They’re all picking up on it. What was that process like?
Kalle: Both me and my co-founder. That’s really where our core competency comes from. In our past lives, we were focused on growing retail partnerships. That part, even at the places where we didn’t have relationships, we know what they’re looking for, and we know how to provide value to them. We know how to be valuable partners. It’s interesting, because if you look at our Anthropologie relationship, or our Nordstrom relationship, it’s through a beauty category partner. If you look at our Bloomingdale’s relationship, or our Bed Bath & Beyond, they’re bedding buyers.
I go back to this duality of product that we have. We can kind of play both sides. Because we know how to talk that talk and create value for them, it’s really not a hard play. It’s a great product. It’s incremental value. One of our top things we live, breathe as a company is not to create, me too products. We’re not cannibalizing anything else in their assortment. We’re going in and we’re saying, “We’re going to bring new revenue. We’re going to provide value over anything else. We’re not going to take away from that, because we’re so differentiated.” Retailers really respect that and get onboard with it.
We’re innovative. We’re coming out with a whole new suite of products. All of them are not, me too products. Retailers love the idea of getting onboard with, customers that are continuing to innovate, and bring products that are nothing like they have in their assortment. Most start-ups these days are pushing a price story. It’s a whole, cut out the middle man. We’re going to deliver our product to consumers, cheaper than they’re used to getting it. Our difference is, we’re really pushing innovative product. Product people first. Marketing people second. Consumers and retailers can appreciate that. You can provide value to both of them with that model.
NYLP: And the retailers are really looking for the innovation.
Kalle: Yeah. They’re looking for things that are incremental business. They already have products in their assortment that are performing. What are you going to do for them beyond that?
NYLP: You mentioned the returns. No question asked return policy. What rate of returns are you getting?
Kalle: In my experience and again I was in pillows, specifically memory foam pillows for about six years before launching this. The price point we were selling those pillows at, was about a third of what this pillow goes for. We’d sell about a 10% return rate. With our product, we see about a 5% return rate. We see half the return rate at triple the price, with the most liberal return policy I’ve ever seen. I think that speaks volumes too, what we’re offering.
NYLP: Kalle, if we’ve been listening to you, we can tell by your accent, that you’re not from New York. Where are you from?
Kalle: I am from North Carolina. I’m surprised you can tell. I feel like I shook the accent a little bit.
NYLP: We can still tell a little bit, but your company is based in New York.
NYLP: What’s it been like being based in New York for your company?
Kalle: Amazing. I mean, for all the challenges that being based in New York, I definitely think the rewards of it outweigh that. Every one next to you, around you, is a valuable partner. We have people in our building, literally in our office building, that are major digital publications, that we can just walk in and give samples to. You know we meet people and have people in our personal network, that we can form great partnerships with. You can’t deny the value of proximity here, and what that can mean for a young company. Being in New York has meant everything for us. It’s also given us our flava. The home industry itself is based in the southeast. It’s a stale, stagnant, good old boys industry. We want to be the New York, you know, company as much as I know my voice sounds North Carolina. We do feel like our brand and everything belongs here. New York has meant a lot to us.
NYLP: All those publicists. All those PR firms. They’re right here.
Kalle: Doesn’t hurt.
NYLP: How do people find out more about you and Night?
Kalle: Discovernight.com. You can find out everything, and you can buy yourself $150 pillow, that if you do not like it, we would be happy to take it back.
NYLP: Well, I thought you were crazy with the $150 pillow, but it is fantastic. Kalle Simpson, thank you for stepping onto the New York Launch Pod, and sharing your time with us.
Kalle: Thank you Hal. Really appreciate it.
NYLP: If you want to learn more about the New York Launch Pod, you can visit Nylaunchpod.com. For transcripts of every episode, including this one. You can follow us on social media, @NYlaunchpod. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a review on iTunes. It does help people discover the show and it is greatly appreciated.SHARE THIS: