Meet the Founder - Piglet in Bed
We caught up with Jessica Hanley
MEET THE FOUNDER
We caught up with Jessica Hanley, the founder of Piglet in Bed for an exclusive interview to find out the store behind the brand, her inspiration and highlights along her journey.
What inspired you to start Piglet in Bed, and what makes your brand stand out in the bedding industry?
In my early 20s I felt like there was a real discrepancy between the homewares I saw in the shops or in catalogues and the way that me and my friends actually used our homes. None of us cared about immaculately ironed sheets or wanted a perfectly polished look to our homes. We cared about sustainable materials and wanted natural and effortless products that would help us to reflect our own individual styles.
That was a big inspiration when starting the business and is still a guiding light when we develop new products.
After launching your brand in 2017, what have been your highlights as a business founder so far?
There have been so many and often I can’t believe that we have only been at it for 6.5 years! Hiring our first team members was a big moment and brought with a real sense of responsibility. Opening and setting up our warehouses has always brought with it a sudden realisation of the scale we are achieving. There are some celebrity purchases (I won’t name names) that have gotten our whole team buzzing. But more recently, getting to see the brand come to life for the first time in a physical store environment at de Gruchy was a real landmark moment!
Can you walk us through the process of creating a new collection, from conception to launch?
This process has changed a lot in the last couple of years as we have grown a lot and been able to bring on some amazing talent to help us with product development. Whereas in the early days our process was mostly just a case of me picking colours that I liked and sharing them with our factory, now our wonderful team spends a lot of time forecasting home trends by looking at what is happening in other areas like fashion or culture. This helps us to develop themes that we can then design for in lots of different categories like bedding, bathroom, sleepwear etc. We work closely with our factories in Portugal, the UK and Asia to find the best fabrications for these designs and then they can create samples for us to review. Our team is very collaborative and so a lot of people get involved in reviewing and sharing feedback on these samples before we move into production.
When we launch our products, it is really important that we are sharing the story behind what inspired us to create them in the first place with our customers. Rather than just photographing them in a studio, we often look for ways to capture the mood by, for example in the case of our upcoming sleepwear launch, working with a fantastic content creator who can photograph her friends wearing our new PJs on the beach in Wales.
What materials do you use for your bedding, and how do you ensure the quality and sustainability of your products?
We are most known for our linen products because until recently that is all that we sold. Flax (which is used to make linen) is a fantastically sustainable crop to farm. It relies almost exclusively on rain water, doesn’t require extensive pesticide use, is kind for the health of the soil thanks to its long roots and because it is usually farmed as a rotation crop and results in very little waste because all parts of the plant can be used.
A couple of years ago when we made the decision to expand beyond linen, it was really important to us that we were upholding the standards we had become known for when sourcing other materials. Cotton can be tricky but by working with the Better Cotton Initiative we feel we can ensure that we are working with the very best cotton that is farmed responsibly both in terms of its environmental impact and in terms of how the farming communities are cared for.
We make hundreds of other sourcing decisions, from our wool, to our buttons, to our packaging every day with sustainability in mind. There is always room to improve but I am a big believer that better sustainability is achieved through our everyday decisions (both as businesses and consumers) rather than by bold sweeping statements and corporate accreditations.
How important is customer feedback in shaping your brand and product offerings?
It is very important! In the early days of the business I used to answer all of our customer queries myself and learnt first hand how much vital information can be gleaned from customer feedback. We’ve continued to build on that as a key pillar for the business as we have grown. We pay really close attention to what is and and isn’t landing well with customers, which products and styles they feel are missing from our range, and also whether the ethos of the company is continuing to resonate with our community.
How do you balance aesthetics and functionality when designing new products?
I think we are a little lucky in that we believe that products that are functional (comfortable and easy to care for) are beautiful. I think that balance would be a lot harder to achieve if that wasn’t the case!
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business in the home goods industry?
I would encourage them to be very honest with themselves about how they use their homes and create a brand and products with that in mind. Getting real with myself about the likelihood that I would ever iron my sheets was the starting point for me and since then we have continued to focus on being more authentic than we are aspirational.
What are some of your future goals for Piglet in Bed?
Physical retail is the next big step for us as a business. It is a little daunting because we are having to learn so much very quickly but we are all really excited to see the strategy come to life! We are working with a great team to translate our identity into physical spaces and we can’t wait to have so many more opportunities to interact with our customers face to face.
Can you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations that Piglet in Bed has in the works?
We’re going to be launching our first baby and toddler range this summer featuring rather adorable textiles such as sleep suits and hooded towels, of course all made from sustainably-sourced natural materials.