Next up in our mattress executive interview series we’re chatting with the President of of Allswell, Arlyn Davich, about their unique product offerings, new take on mattress sizing, and where the mattress and home goods market is heading.
Also, when you finish reading, enter to win a brand new Allswell mattress in the size/firmness of your choice!
It seems that for most of your career, you have been an entrepreneur with launching PayPerks back in 2009. Now that you are working with a huge brand, but also still launching a completely new line within the company, how different is your mindset in this project compared to your first venture?
In past businesses I’ve launched, independent venture-backed business, I had to “swing for the fences” every day to achieve an outcome that would merit a good return for my investors and team. But when you have the resources of a Fortune 1 behind you, the bar for success is even higher. A certain level of success – by most people’s standards extreme success – is table stakes.
Unfortunately, all of our executive interviews to date in our series have been with men, which we aren’t proud of. How to you feel the entrepreneurial landscape has changed for women since you launched PayPerks?
When I was launching PayPerks in 2008, fewer people in general were entrepreneurs. I’d just graduated from Columbia Business School, and a lot of my fellow students wanted to become bankers, despite the fact that it was the middle of the financial crisis. (In contrast, I was the head of the entrepreneurs club which grew to be the school’s largest club by the end of my second year) Since then, the landscape has changed. Yes, a lot of business school grads still want to be bankers, but more are starting businesses — and many more are women. There are a number of reasons why, but one major one is that e-commerce as a category has grown — which naturally means more opportunity for e-commerce entrepreneurs. And, with that, there has been a boom in networking opportunities for women in e-commerce. I found my role at Allswell role through a friend I met in this capacity. Other categories have further to go but I’m excited to see more and more women launching businesses, and supporting female entrepreneurs in general, in male-dominated categories like fintech.
With brands like Cocoon (Sealy), Tomorrow Sleep (Serta) and Tulo (Mattress Firm), bigger brands are making their way into the ‘bed in a box’ space, what is the key for Allswell(Walmart) to make a name for themselves?
We aim to surpass the expectations of what people think a “boxed mattress” is. While, yes, our mattress happens to come in a box, it rivals high-end specialty store mattresses. We strive to have the same quality as traditional mattresses that cost a lot more, and we feel we achieve that. When it comes to our boxed competitors, though, here are some differences:
- While many of them only sell mattresses, we sell everything for your bed. We’re a one-stop shop for your dream bed.
- At 12 inches in height, we’ve been called the “grandest” boxed mattress available (most boxed mattresses are 10 inches in depth). The extra 2 inches makes a huge difference
in comfort, quality, and substance.
- We’re the only boxed mattress that features a built-in plush topper for exceptional softness and breathability. (No need to purchase separately)
Allswell also has a “cool” factor — literally: Our mattresses are encased in fabric that’s designed to feel cool to the touch (as are our sheets).
- We use a range of plant-based, natural ingredients and Certi-PUR-US®-certified, formaldehyde-free foams.
Lastly, since we started as a direct-to-consumer brand, we have an inherently strong connection to end users so we can really understand what they want. We know how to create products that work for them.
The branding of Allswell seems to be a bit different than others out there, with more of a design aesthetic feel, almost making the bedroom approachable. Would that be an accurate statement?
Yes, very accurate — thanks for noticing! We feel that every object in your home should be beautiful. A mattress, even though it’s covered up, should be no exception. Beyond the mattresses, we are also very intentional about the design of all of our other products. Take something as basic as a duvet cover — we work with designers and experts who obsess over everything from the exact shade and how it’ll go with people’s decor schemes, to exactly how the duvet insert is inserted for maximum comfort, longevity and ease. The devil is in the details.
Allswell also offers one of the wider varieties of bedding products in the space, with four different lines of bedding products with unique designers. Was there a certain feel you were going for with each designer, and is there a target market best suited for your products?
We found designers who not only have great taste, but also have unique points of view on home design, so that we could feature a diverse selection to suit all needs, tastes, and styles. Those designers curated “Bedscapes”: a fully designed look from sheets to accent pillows and everything in between.
We have gone through a few questions and not touched on the mattress offerings! Allswell has two mattress options, a memory foam mattress, as well as a hybrid at the same price point. Walk us through the decision to launch with two mattresses?
We wanted to reach the widest portion of the population that we possibly could, and having two options enables us to do that. The Allswell Luxe Classic is the perfect mix of comfort and support for most. The Allswell Luxe Classic, Firmer, is best for stomach sleepers, couples, and those who just like a firmer feel.
How are your customer service agents trained to assist the consumer in determining whether the The Allswell Luxe Classic (memory foam) or The Allswell Luxe Classic, Firmer (hybrid) is best for their body composition and sleep preferences?
Our customer service agents have a series of questions that can help steer people to the right one. But here’s the general breakdown: Luxe Classic is the default choice for most people, unless they prefer or need a firmer feel. (As noted in the previous answer, the Firmer is best for stomach sleepers and couples with different sleep needs … so our customer service agents will ask if you’re a stomach or side sleeper, if you’re single or in a couple, etc., to help make their recommendation!)
While the brand just launched at the end of February, do you see expanding into other design items in the bedroom such as foundations, or even bedding furniture?
We aim to create products that our customers want, and we’re constantly listening to what our customers are saying. If they say they want it, we’ll see if we can do it better than anyone else. If we can do that, we’ll bring it to market. We’ll only do that if the product will truly add value in the marketplace. Our goal is to address our customers’ sleep-related issues and needs in a way that’s innovative — and makes a marked difference in their lives.
In the four plus months that the site has been live, what has been the biggest thing you have learned both about the industry and the consumer?
I didn’t realize how many people were sleeping on a mattress that are less (sometimes way less) than optimal for them. Whenever we do trunk shows, the biggest thing I hear is “Wow, I didn’t realize I’ve been sleeping on the wrong mattress all these years!” I attribute that partly to the fact that most other players in the industry don’t properly explain to customers how they can find the best mattress for their needs.
Along those lines, what advice would you give to a consumer that is shopping for a mattress online?
Perhaps the most important thing: make sure there’s a generous return window. So many mattresses — including Allswell’s — now have a 100-night free trial (or close). That’s critical: No matter how much you “test a mattress out” in the store, it’s not the same as sleeping on it for several months to see how you really like it. Second important note: Read reviews, both on the manufacturer’s site and on third-party sites like Tuck.com. Nothing beats getting the word straight from your fellow customers.
Silly question, but is there ever any confusion as to how to say the brand name? We know it is pronounced like “All’s well”, but when we saw the press release earlier this year, I thought it could be, “All swell”. Either way would work for a bedding brand, so just curious if any thought went into that?
It’s pronounced like the first you mentioned: “All’s well”! We came up with the name because we wanted something that described that feeling when you rest your head on the pillow at night and everything feels just right: All is well. From there, we shortened it to “Allswell.” By the way, your “All swell” reading of the name isn’t far off either — it’s the same sentiment!
Lastly, while the brand is still so new, where do you see the online bedding industry as a whole in the next 24 months as new brands keep entering the space.
We’re closely connected to our customers and are always listening to them and responding to their needs. The more players that enter the market, the more we’re pushed to create more innovative bedding options for our customers.