In Oct 2008 BedVoyage CEO, Sharon Stuart, was struck with the idea to create luxury linens to take along on your travels. She often stayed in all variety of hotels, but was not always thrilled with the quality of the linens at economy resorts. The genesis of her concept was to design linens from some sort of anti-bacterial fabric, with a one-piece design to make it easy to put over top of the hotel sheets. She started working on her prototype: connecting the flat and fitted sheet at the foot end, and then zippered the pillowcase, all with the intention of keeping your body away from the well-used hotel pillows and mattress.
A friend of Sharon’s owned a business that helped entrepreneurs define their products and source a factory. When trying to find the right fabric, he asked Sharon, â€˜have you heard of bamboo?’ She started researching and learned that bamboo fibers naturally resist bacteria, mildew and odors, and is thermal regulating and hypo allergenic, the perfect fabric for her design! Her friend was very instrumental in finding the right factory to start production, so she incorporated in January 2009, applied for a patent and started building the website.
18 months of R&D, shipping samples back and forth and fine tuning the design, resulted in finally receiving her first order in July 2010. Now it was time to think of how to sell them!
Sharon hired a branding company who came up with the name BedVoyage, as in â€˜take your bed on your travels’ and decided to host her launch at a Travel Writer’s convention in Dublin, Ireland in May 2010. The actor Andrew McCarthy of St Elmo’s Fire, Pretty in Pink fame, was in attendance as he’s a travel writer, and she hoped he might write the first article! You can see the connected design in the images at the launch party.
The first public showing of the products was at the Travel Goods Show in Las Vegas in March 2011, where she picked up the first 5 online accounts to sell her new invention. She intended to showcase the bamboo sheets, travel blanket and pillowcase, but realized she wanted something to finish the bed display. Sharon took a set of the sheets to a local seamstress to turn them into a duvet cover, and so many people loved the duvet at the show that she immediately decided it would be the next item to produce!
Sharon concentrated on introducing the design to the public at street fairs and tradeshows for the first year, and with only 2 colors of sheets and 1 color of travel blanket/pillowcase she was thrilled to sell between $6k-$18k at each event! In talking to customers, Sharon realized that although they thought the connected design was interesting, they were really buying them because they loved the feel of the bamboo fabric. So, lesson learned! She quickly morphed into offering traditional linens, and then added towels, coverlets, shams, and blankets.
BedVoyage’s motto is â€˜Go Green in Your Bed’ and because many discerning mothers were requesting eco-friendly bedding for their babies too, they decided to add crib bedding to their product line.
In December 2010, one of BedVoyage’s business advisors had connections at Costco, and was able to secure an appointment to pitch the linens to a road show buyer. The buyer serendipitously had just been researching bamboo and wanted to introduce it at Costco, so they signed the contract, and 6 years later are still going strong at Costco.
In 2012 a new site redesign was launched, which resulted in an increase in sales of over 50%, and to build on that momentum, be watching for another brand-new site launching in April 2017, with an updated look, feel and shopping experience!
You can find BedVoyage products at http://www.bedvoyage.com as well as many online retailers such as JC Penney, Sears, Wayfair, ATG and BlueStem. They are also carried in mattress stores, designer showrooms, cruise lines, hotels, Inns, and eco resorts in Costa Rica, Belize and Mexico. Retail and Hospitality accounts can sign up for wholesale pricing, with a slick new automated process at www.BedVoyage.com