The Magnificence of Sleeping on Authentic Bamboo Bedding
Some of the best things happen to you when you least expect it, and sometimes there’s a silver lining in every dark cloud. For Mike and Tina Frost and their family, these are metaphors that have come to life as a result of a gift. It was a gift that has kept on giving in the form of a booming business venture.
The Frost family’s “dark cloud” experience was one that was fairly common back in the 2008-2009 period, with what looked like a collapsing economy and dismal future prospects, something that self-employed professionals like Mike and Tina (pictured at right) felt more acutely than many. Tina’s graphic design skills and Mike’s computer and website consulting expertise were facing a bleak marketplace in the wake of “the great recession,” and the small scale, mail order business they had started was struggling.
The unexpected item that produced opportunity for them was a gift of a set of sheets…not just sheets, but something called “bamboo sheets.” At first glance, sheets—and bedding in general—isn’t an area where you’d expect to find life-altering motivation, but it didn’t take the Frosts long to realize there was something quite different about the gift they’d received. So, after experiencing first-hand the wonders of bamboo fabrics, they set out to learn all they could about what looked like an amazing product.
Stepping Into the World of Bamboo
Mike’s initial reaction to bamboo sheets was one of curiosity. “I wasn’t aware of this type of product,” he recalls, “but the first time I slept on them I was blown away!” It didn’t take Mike and Tina long to become thoroughly familiar with the incredible qualities of bedding products manufactured from bamboo, and to realize that this is the market niche they needed for their business.
With their professional backgrounds, Mike and Tina knew that research would be the key to launching an enterprise based on a product line that would be relatively new to potential customers. Pouring themselves into the study of bamboo fibres and the fabrication of products from natural bamboo, they quickly assembled a marketing approach designed to bring the amazing benefits of bamboo to what they knew would be a solid base of clientele.
“Our initial reflex,” Mike explains, “was to jump in and learn all we could about where bamboo comes from and how its grown and harvested, how the cellulose is extracted for fabrication, what the various fabrication methods are, and so on.” Since most bamboo fabrics originate in the Eastern Hemisphere, their research needed to include getting a basic understanding of the cultural aspects of the regions where the raw material is produced.
So, What’s So Great About Bamboo?
As Mike and Tina dug into their research, they were quick to learn that the raw material is organically grown, with the absence of harmful chemicals and pesticides enhancing its eco-friendliness. The preferred strain used in bamboo textiles is the moso or tortoise-shell variety, a self-germinating and quick-growing strain that makes it highly sustainable in its native region of China. Since the material is naturally hypoallergenic, and since no chemicals are added during the manufacturing process, it is ideal for those with allergies and chemical sensitivities.
Fabric made from moso bamboo is both breathable and thermal regulating, two factors that add to its attractiveness for folks needing a good night’s sleep. With its porous nature and natural wicking properties, the ability to stay cooler and more comfortable in the summer and warm up faster in the winter makes the ultra soft and smooth feel of bamboo bedding an almost indescribable sleep experience.
“The bamboo viscose fiber used in our flagship products have been certified by Testex Zurich to meet Oeko-Tex Standard 100.This assures buyers that the Bamboo viscose fiber has been tested for harmful chemicals and that there are no harmful chemicals present in the fiber. This certification, combined with additional measures we take in the manufacturing process, making our products perfect for those with chemical sensitivities.”
Creating a Business Model for the Product
“The more we learned about bamboo bedding, the more we knew this was the place for us,” Mike recalls. After selecting a manufacturer and building an initial supply of materials and samples, Mike and Tina dove headfirst into the venture, building a website, marketing materials, and a “road show” that they took across the country on a mission to share the story of bamboo bedding. “It quickly became a family affair,” Mike reports, “because we ‘recruited’ our two teenage children—Daeli and Winston—as part of the team—an integral part of the team, by the way.”
“We needed to learn the whole process, from marketing, to procurement, to order fulfillment,” Mike remarks, “and we needed to handle the day-to-day detail tasks as efficiently as possible.” While he and Tina were on the road spreading the word and drumming up business, Mike reports that Daeli and Winston operated from their home base, doing the picking, packing, and shipping tasks, for awhile including trucking the packaged orders to the various courier services for shipping. “It was a true learn as you go operation.” Mike laughs, “I had to teach Winston the operation of the shipping program over the phone while Tina and I were on the road. And Daeli handles picking and packing of orders and the time-consuming task of gift wrapping, something we offer free as a service to our customers.”
But it all came together, and Dreamweave Bamboo Bliss has built itself into a premier marketer in the upscale world of bamboo bedding.
This is What Friends Are For
Dreamweave Bamboo Bliss is, and always has been, a classic example of a lean operation. While that’s certainly a noble objective for small businesses, a launch that spiraled upward as fast as theirs can really put a strain on the nerves. “Fortunately, we were blessed with an amazing extended family of friends who were willing to pitch in and help us get through the early days,” Mike reflects. “They saved our lives, volunteering to help during the peaks.” As true friends, they sought no compensation from the Frosts, something that enabled them to survive the start-up days, but leading Mike to see the importance of recognition for the helping hands. “We had to do something,” Mike reports, “so when time and finances permitted, we rounded up these ‘volunteers’ and treated them to a trip out west to the mountains in Utah.
Planning for the Future
In eight quick years, Mike and Tina (and family and friends) have built Dreamweave Bamboo Bliss into a solid success, despite having to navigate the burdensome regulatory environment that small businesses face, the uncertain health care marketplace confronting self-employed families, and the need for flexibility and adaptability that any small, lean operation realizes. In addition to supplying individual households, they’ve penetrated the boutique hotel and resort market, and are constantly following up on new leads across the country.
Drawing on their professional knowledge accumulated early in their careers, they’ve built a pliable internet-based application that enables customers to interact with the company fluidly, and that is flexible enough to allow them to integrate new customer-based technologies as they become available. “Our website functions as its own app,” reports Mike, “and we can easily add payment e-pay methodologies as they hit the mainstream market. Our customers appreciate the flexibility.”
And speaking of their customers: Who are they? “We have a two-level marketplace.” Mike explains, “Our products appeal to older folks, those who especially appreciate the therapeutic value and the thermal regulating qualities of bamboo textiles, while younger folks value highly the eco-friendly qualities of the supply and manufacturing side of the business. Of course both old and young can appreciate the luxurious nature and benefit from the natural qualities of bamboo.”
“For the near-term,” suggests Mike, “we’re focused on maintaining our commitment to product quality and exemplary customer service levels.” But Mike is quick to note that the Frost’s have a dream for the future, and it’s a fairly ambitious one at that. “We are driven to do all that we can to get our entire operation all based in the United States. We have the climate for bamboo production in the Southern States, and I know there are defunct textile mills sitting idle and deteriorating in many areas around the country. Because of regulatory roadblocks, it hasn’t been practical to even think about resurrecting these facilities, but the political climate is changing.” Who knows—Mike and Tina Frost may be one of the small business operators who break out of the pack to spearhead a renaissance in the on-shore textile industry in the years ahead!
How AMAC is Helping
Getting the word out on the incredible qualities of bamboo bedding is one of the biggest marketing challenges for Mike and Tina. While they’ve made solid progress in the past few years, they know the potential to share the benefits of their products with a wider marketplace is within reach. And that’s where AMAC and its Small Business Solutions enterprise comes in. “It’s a natural relationship,” says Mike. “Think about it: People say ‘Bamboo sheets…what’s that?’ just like they say ‘AMAC…what’s that?’ We’re both on an upward trajectory, and that’s what makes it so great that we’ve been able to join forces.” The relationship with AMAC also gives customers access to a 20% discount via use of a coupon code (“AMAC”) on orders either via BambooBlissSheets.com or telephone (888-806-6178).
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