“Ultimately, our goal is to try and improve the night’s sleep so you’re more effective during the day,” says Ciaran Sheridan, co-founder of Woolow, an Irish sleep-care start-up. “I think for a lot of people that’s a really hot topic.”
Michael Burke, an organic farmer from Dunmore, Co Galway, contacted Sheridan – who has experience in market development – to see if he was interested in helping to commercialise an idea for all-natural wool pillow company which he had been developing since 2016.
After inheriting a family farm, Dunblaney House, some years ago – which had been in the family since 1787 – Burke decided to convert the farm to organic.
Burke approached Sheridan – who lived for London for twenty years – at the start of 2018 and the duo recruited Ray McDonnell, a brand expert, to help create suitably unprocessed imagery for the fledgeling company.
The product itself is uniquely natural, and ultimately healthy, a 100 per cent natural wool pillow, something the business partners pride themselves on.
“It’s an Irish brand, an Irish product. It’s natural, hypoallergenic, naturally resistant to dust mites, all the good stuff and it has no synthetics,” Sheridan says.
The first product – the standard Woolow pillow – which is available on the firm’s crowdfunding drive is also joined by a Lavender-infused pillow. “From all of our testing, women absolutely love this product. It’s just got that lovely aroma to it, relaxing and soothing,” Sheridan says.
Over time, these two products will be branched out, depending on the successes of their funding campaign and their UK launch, which is taking place at the Country Living Fair in London this month.
Sheridan says that other natural aromas may be introduced, but also mentioned that their hopes for the future are boundless; various size pillows including a kids size, duvets, neck pillows for air travel, blankets and mattresses are all ideas Woolow are toying with.
In order to ramp up production and product development, the business partners opted for a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Sheridan tells the Irish World that this was a well-considered business decision which doubles as a fundraiser for the business and a marketing campaign.
“All we’re doing is selling pillows. People pledge money to you and you commit, if you’re successful, to give them what you make over time,” he says of the campaign.
The business model is yet undecided. Woolow would rather avoid mass production outlets like retail stores. Instead, Sheridan says, the firm may replicate an online-focused model like I Love My Pillow but will strive to have their products in luxury department stores like Selfridges.
“We might also go after some premium hotels and have our pillow sitting in hotel rooms. Why? Because you would get a better night’s sleep, et cetera,” he says.
The launch at the Country Living Fair, which takes place in Islington between the 7th and 11th of November, is the ideal place to launch, Sheridan says, due to the promised presence of much of their target market: women aged 30-years-old and older.
They are readers of the magazine, and they “sit in very distinct income group and are very conscious of the countryside,” he added.
“We want people to sign up to the Kickstart campaign,” Sheridan says. “I want customers to get a feel of the product and to get some real-time feedback.”
After the launch and the crowdfunding campaign expire in late-November, Woolow will be able to take stock and decide how the business should scale-up or down. Long-term, they hope to develop a globally-recognised brand.
“The next two or three weeks will be interesting for us with this business and it will tell the story of where we go next,” Sheridan says.
“You can have really fancy goals when starting off, but really we just want to improve sleep care by using and developing natural products.”
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