Once upon a time, a young woman discovered an old (by the look of it) pillow stuffed high in the linen closet of a furnished apartment in Idaho Falls, ID. Despite the somewhat aged appearance and unknown provenance of this pillow, Heather McCoy gave it a try and loved it more than any other pillow ever. With that simple serendipitous finding began a 25 year home-grown mission to bring the perfect sustainable pillow to everyone. Now an international business of over 13 years that goal is well and truly in motion.
Help comes in many mysterious guises and it certainly seems this pillow’s mission was destined from the beginning to reach thousands and thousands of people in need of good sleep.
The first step along the way was to discover what was inside this mysterious pillow. After carefully snipping a seam open, she extracted a small sample to see if she could figure out what it was made of. Having grown up in a household steeped in scientific method, she took some of the fill and lit a match to it. Former chemistry lab days told her that if it was a natural material like cotton or wool, it would burn; but if it was a man-made material, most likely it would melt. It melted – sort of. So now what?
It was the early days of the internet (yes, those days did exist) but the manufacturing bible known as the Thomas Register was already available online. Taking the plunge into the rabbit hole known as industrial manufacturing she set out to find a company to help her. She found what seemed a viable prospect in a neighboring state and sent off the precious sample in a plain envelope with a note asking if anyone knew what the fill was.
ENTER THE ANGEL
Not long after she mailed the sample, Heather received a phone call from a sales rep at the company and heard a voice chuckling on the other end saying that yes, he knew what the fiber was and his company did sell it. He eventually apologized for his chuckle, hoping not to offend, but he said he’d found the envelope and sample and request so unique he couldn’t help but be intrigued (and amused) and wanted to know more of the back-story. It was an instant friendship that lasted for the remainder of his time at the company. His guiding hand through the early stages was invaluable and if not for this kind gentleman, A Little Pillow Company would not be what it is today.
PLAIN RICE & STEAMED FROZEN VEGGIES
Did we mention that Heather was practically broke when all this started? So how to buy the minimum wholesale requirement and where on earth to store it? The fiber came in HUGE bales and so of course cost a lot, even wholesale. She was also renting a single bedroom from some friends when all this started and knew that storage was a massive hurdle, one both she & her Angel weren't able to figure out. Until one day....
He called with exciting news! The company had strangely just received a bale from their supplier that wasn’t one huge multi-hundred pound bale but one made up of smaller individual bags. He could now ship her one at a time for as long as they held out! The first shipment arrived via FedEx Ground about a week later and A Little Pillow Company was off and, if not exactly running, well then walking faster.
With a home-made website (no money meant borrowing a book from the library and teaching herself enough HTML to get by), a 30 pound bag of fiber and fabric from the local fabric store she began working on perfecting her pillow. Local sales to friends and family kept her afloat – as did and lots of rice and steamed veggies - until the R&D and website were ready to launch to the general public.
LOVE & SUCCESS
There were many, many more funny and serendipitous twists and turns in the course of A Little Pillow Company’s growth (as well as the Great Love Story she found 6 years in with her now husband Loyd) but what started out as a single offer of a standard size pillow all those years ago has now become a full line of family pillows for babies, toddlers, children, youth and adults, all offered on the international stage. In 2019 the company also added a new Lifestyle Collection which includes day pillows, a versatile travel pillow, a bath pillow and backpack/camping pillows.
From the very start Heather wanted to make sure the business was as sustainable as possible. There have been many changes, additions and subtractions along the way to reach that goal but she and her husband are both proud of the success they have had in creating a business that continually seeks a lower carbon-footprint and less waste.
They say their proudest business achievement by far is their Flex-Fill which now goes into every pillow. This wonderful material (although not the original fiber she used but still from the same company) is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles and helps keep millions of them out of our oceans and landfills. In one standard pillow alone, 29 homeless single-use plastic bottles are sequestered from our environment and put to a far better use in giving the gift of good sleep.
To learn more about the environmental and social Giving Tree of A Little Pillow Company and its owners, click here.