Browsing the bedding aisle of any major department store, you would be forgiven for thinking, like cereals on the supermarket shelf, there are enough options in the world already. But Emily Stinchcomb would disagree. After the birth of her second child, she quit her full-time job to invent a new integrated bedding and sheet system that gave her the comfort and ease of a duvet cover, with the ease of washing just a sheet and not the whole cover.
But more about that in a minute.
Stinchcomb, a native Oregonian, moved to Vail, Colorado, after college to ski. Of course, she had to earn a living too so she landed a job as a sales and events coordinator with Vail Resorts and Hyatt hotels. She liked her job but never felt that she had a career path that she was uber passionate about. So a decade later, after she had her first child, she went part time and a few years later, when she was pregnant with her second child, her family moved to Boulder and Emily thought that would be a good time to think about doing something new.
“A lot of women are into shoes or shirts or purses. But me? I’ve always loved bedding. I just love being comfortable and cozy, and when I got to college in the early nineties, duvet covers (covering a duvet/comforter) were just starting to come into popularity instead of those gross polyester comforters we all were forced to use until then, and I just loved them.”
Stinchcomb, a self-professed clean freak, saw the duvet cover as an entrée into a new world – one in which, not only did she not have to deal with the
“gross polyester comforter”, but where she could free herself from the top sheet dilemma that she also “struggled” with occasionally. (Do you need a top sheet or is the duvet cover the top sheet? Do you see material for Seinfeld in this?)
“In college I decided I was done with the flat sheet,” Stinchcomb says dramatically. “I had the top bunk and so the flat sheet was always getting stuck at the bottom of my bed where it was hard to take on/off and align to make it up. I hated it.”
So duvet covers became her go to bedding and each week, like the good little clean freak she was, she removed the duvet/comforter from the cover (which we all know is timely and frustrating), and washed it while other coeds let their sheets stay on for weeks at a time.
Stinchbomb struggled with her sheets again when she got married. “I thought, oh crap, I have to get back to the sheet situation, but luckily my husband was on board too. Together, we had a love affair over our dislike of the flat sheet.”
It was a match made in Bed, Bath, and Beyond. But it soared to new heights when they traveled to France for her husband’s work trip. It was there that Stinchcomb had an epiphany. “I had major jet lag and so I was awake in the middle of the night (also enjoying the carefree European sleeping method sans sheet) and my mind was racing. I thought, how could I combine a sheet and a duvet cover so that there was a barrier between your body and the duvet cover.” It made sense. When you slept your face and body sloughs off lots of skin cells and oil. And if your duvet cover is the only barrier, you can see why someone like Emily would be constantly washing her duvet.
Out of her middle of the night, jet-lag-induced brainstorm, came inspiration – an integrated bedding system that Stinchcomb would eventually brand, Simplified Bedding. Her system is a duvet cover, with a detachable flat sheet that zippers on to the underside of the duvet cover. With savings and a small financial gift from her grandmother, when Stinchcomb returned from France she set to work.
“My grandma was a very good seamstress, and my Mom always told me I should sew, so I started figuring out how it could work on my own.” After sewing a rough model herself, she hired a local seamstress in Boulder to come up with a prototype and next a pattern-maker to complete the pattern. “The process was daunting and expensive,” she bemoans. At that time, she also began the process of filing her patent.
With a pattern in hand, Stinchcomb decided to focus on the kid’s market initially. She identified quality and fun custom fabrics and along with an in-house seamstress, did all the work in-house. In this case, in house literally meant, in her house. But it proved challenging on all fronts. So Stinchcomb did a slight pivot. After lots and lots of cold calls, feeling her way through the process, she identified a manufacturer overseas that had expertise in quality zippers and identified a source for the sheets to zip to the cover.
“I started out with an idea and this is where it ended up – it’s a great idea, but it’s a lot more work than even a full-time job. And it’s a ton of trial and error.” But now Stinchcomb is ready for the world to fall in love with her sheeting system. After a full two years of product development, and a rebranding campaign, Stinchcomb has one patent in hand, and another one pending, and the now 41 year old is ready to sell. “After running a successful Kickstarter campaign and receiving a few initial orders on-my website, I’m ready to roll! I’ve made more mistakes than I’d care to admit, but well, it’s gotten me to here.”
Sweet, cozy, and clean dreams.
If you are interested in trying out Simplified Bedding, use Coupon Code “career2” at checkout to receive a 15% savings.
- Patent – get a provisional patent before filing a utility or design patent. This will give you a year to test out your idea without spending too much money upfront and it also keeps your original file date if/when you file the utility or design patent a year later.
- Manufacturing – check references on your manufacturers. Do not get conned into the manufacturer with the best “price”. Also, remember to factor in pricing and time for prototypes.
- Find a mentor in the area of your business. It is very helpful to get direction and questions answered by someone that has been there before