How to start a bed sheet business in the middle of a pandemic
A report from Medium @Bed Sheets Malaysia
A bed sheet company? Sounds a bit random and out there — but for what it’s worth, here’s our story.
It was January 2020 and we were coming off a high from our peak year-end holiday season, achieving record-breaking sales that we had never seen before. We are Plush Services, one of the largest Airbnb management companies in Malaysia with over 200 properties worth over US$50m under our management. Our revenue in 2019 was approximately US$2.5m and 2020 was going to be even better with our growing pipeline of new properties.
Then, Covid-19 hit us. With a team of 30 to feed, we knew we had to explore new sources of revenue. We decided to revisit an idea that had been brewing in the back of our minds for a while.
What makes the best bed sheets?
When we first started Plush Services, we had to procure so much bed linen for the business. We tried them all, from polyester to cotton, including the good, the bad and the scratchy ones. We searched the stores and sourced from various suppliers for bed sheets that would give our guests a good night’s sleep and are durable enough to last a long time. This experience taught us two very important things — One, the science behind good quality bed sheets, and two, the amount of overpriced, poor quality sheets out there in the market. Department stores are full of bed sheets with a ridiculous thread count (1,500 thread count, anyone?) at a 70–80% mark down. Yet, they never failed to disappoint in quality.
Surely, we could do better than what’s out there? That was how Kapas Living was born.
We wanted to sell great bed sheets at honest prices. Building upon our knowledge from procuring sheets in the past, we spent time conducting numerous tests on samples to curate our Kapas bedding range. More than just using a high thread count number, the product development process involved selecting the highest quality cotton fibres and the right weave for the bed sheets.
Many suppliers focus on the type of cotton, be it Supima, Egyptian or regular cotton. We found that the name of the cotton means little — cotton suppliers of different regions brand their cotton to command a higher premium with no impact on quality. What really mattered was the length of the staple and most sheets sold elsewhere used short-staple cotton. We invested in 400 thread count, 37mm extra-long staple cotton for our bedding, so that they will remain luxuriously smooth and soft yet strong and durable for many years to come. To give you a snapshot of the different ranges of cotton, short-staple cotton is 29mm while long-staple cotton is around 32mm. At 37mm, our cotton fibres are far superior compared to even the long-staple cotton fibres you see in the market.
We are extremely proud that our Kapas bed sheets will fray less, pill less, wrinkle less and even fade less than fabrics made of cheaper short-staple fibres.
Never underestimate the design of the bed sheet
We also designed our Kapas bed sheets with practicality and user-friendliness in mind.
Woven tags: The sheets come with cleverly woven tags to help people identify the correct corners when putting on the bed sheets. All you have to do is check the labels and you’ll always put on the bed sheets correctly.
Deep pockets: Our sheets are made to fit even the thickest mattresses of up to 40cm
Large buttons and cotton ties: Our buttons are larger, while our ties are made of the same cotton to help keep the duvet in place for a more enjoyable slumber.
Thread count and how it matters to bed sheets
Marketers out there have cleverly spun the thread count as the sole measure of quality for bed sheets and that cannot be more misleading and gimmicky. It started a meaningless race for a higher count. A bed sheet set with 1,000 thread count is higher than another with 600, so the former must be better, although we now know it isn’t exactly the case! Read more in depth on our thread count analysis here.
Thread count matters only to a certain degree and you need to look at other factors such as cotton quality to find the perfect bed sheets. A higher thread count could suggest the use of artificial polyester fibres or cramming of more, poorer grade and thinner cotton fibres into the yarn to artificially boost the count figure. One long, high quality cotton fibre is superior to two short and thin cotton fibres twisted together.
What about wrinkles in bed sheets?
Anti-wrinkle sheets are made with formaldehyde (a known carcinogenic substance used for anti-wrinkle treatment). Since your skin will be in contact with our sheets for roughly 8 hours each day, our sheets are Oeko-Tex® certified with each and every component, i.e. every thread, button and accessory, has been tested to ensure no harmful substances, keeping you and your family safe.
However, our sheets do tend to wrinkle and pill less than other poorer cotton sheets due to its longer staple cotton fibres.
What that all means
With that marketing message, we took the plunge and launched Kapas Living.
Looking back, building this entire business from scratch with a limited budget hasn’t been easy. We learnt to code a website, developed everything from logo to packaging to final product, and hustled our way through. Challenging, yes, but well worth it. Here’s what we’ve realised too:
Malaysians stick together in time of crisis. Our first few customers who heard about us over the local radio on Lite FM, despite not knowing about Kapas Living before, took a chance on us and supported us. Without them, Kapas would not have lifted off the ground. But the greatest validation came when we received multiple repeat orders together with numerous positive reviews for our bed sheets.
Finally, we know we now have a product that people want. Great bed sheets at an affordable prices, something we were missing in this part of the world. If you ever want to find luxurious sheets without breaking the bank , do consider giving us at Kapas Living a try. We are so confident in our sheets we even offer a 30-day money back guarantee. We can be contacted at email@example.com or +6017 889 4778.