Bedding startup ready to spread its reach
Ruby Russell, 64 and Louie Scheel, 87, started a relationship after meeting on the dating site Match.com. Now seven years later, they are taking their blossoming relationship into the business world, introducing their concept called Stayput Beddings.
The idea developed after Scheel’s sleeping habits were creating a nuisance on a daily basis.
“I sleep good, but apparently I tear the bed up at night.” Scheel said.
Russell hated constantly re-tucking the sheets on a daily basis, and often finagled a way that forced Scheel to handle the chore himself.
But after Scheel hurt his back doing chores at his house in Minden, making such tasks difficult, Russell brainstormed ideas on how to make the bed.
“He would mess up the sheets so bad, I would sneak out and go to the gym so he would have to make the bed,” Russell said. “But when he hurt his back, I was laying in bed and trying to figure out how I could fix it so I wouldn’t have to make the bed every day.”
What Russell eventually came up with was a solution by sewing a long tab in the front of the sheet that tucks under the bed, while the other sides stay loose.
While it was Russell who created the concept, it was Scheel who decided it was worth a shot as a business venture and spearheaded getting Russell’s design patented and off the ground.
Scheel did extensive market research and contacted potential suppliers and manufacturers.
He scouted the U.S. trying to find companies but found no takers. Despite their preference in keeping production inside the U.S., they were forced to look overseas. They finally found a supplier called Shijiazhuang Hongda Textiles Co. in China and a manufacturer, MAK Group, based in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Three months I searched the United States, but nobody would make the fabric and nobody would sew the fabric,” Scheel said.
“A fellow in Wichita, Kan., was sort of interested but when he found out he couldn’t find the material, he didn’t want it.”
The couple wanted a quality material to market, so they decided on 100 percent Egyptian combed cotton with a 400-thread count.
They believe it is quality material providing optimum comfort and longevity for consumers. They plan on offering sheets for all sizes of beds and even cribs. Stayput is looking to offer monograms on its sheets to mark special occasions such as weddings or birthdays. The business owners are also looking to add a line of bedspreads, too.
Russell and Scheel, both retired, pooled their money to get the company, which is called Distinctive Bedding, off the ground. The pair is running the venture themselves out of Russell’s home in Spanish Springs. They already have a shipment coming in which they will market on the company’s Web site, http://www.StayPutBeddings.com, although they are still in the process of adding a buyers’ page. Perfect Balance Designs of Carson City developed the Web site.
“We have about 350 units coming in and they’re all paid for. Then when we sell them, we want to put the money back into the company and grow,” Russell said.
Scheel has already made some cold calls to solicit upscale department stores as well as contacting hotels and even hospitals to gauge their interest in what Stayput Beddings has to offer.
“We’re not selling to the general public just yet, but we’re trying to keep it upscale, the Macy’s, the Dillard’s, places like that. We were going to start where the money was and work down from there.” Scheel said.
The couple is also searching for a marketing individual or firm they can afford to assist the company along with capital.
“We could supply 10,000 units in 16 weeks. We could get going really quickly. We just need capital to place the order,” Scheel said of potential investors.
Russell and Scheel have been searching for that backing. They’ve turned to startup support organizations such as the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) as well as attending events and networking groups including the 2015 Governor’s Conference on Business in search of that venture capital.
They are confident that their product, (the first known patent in the consumer bedding industry since 1959) will be marketable, since the selling point is it will save time and health risks such as back problems from constantly making a bed.
They also feel it will create a much more comfortable sleeping environment as well, thus reducing existing medical conditions such as diabetic nerve damage or preventing maladies from other bedding products.
At some point, the couple, who both moved to northern Nevada from California, would possibly move into a distribution warehouse facility and add a staff, but the ultimate goal is to sell the company to reap the benefits.
“We want to sell the patent in about two years. But we need to find someone who would want the patent. If we could get sales and marketing up and sell the property, we would retire again,” Scheel said.
“While I cannot say with certainty what the business landscape will look like after the dust settles, I do believe it will never get back to the way it was before the shutdown,” advises Mike Bosma.