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Mattress Executive Interview Series – CRaVE

Written by Keith Cushner

Next up in our mattress executive interview series we’re chatting with the Founder/Creative Director of CRaVE, Kathy Grigg, about her tenure in the mattress industry, their products and where things are heading.

Also, when you finish reading, enter to win a brand new CRaVE hybrid mattress in the size/firmness of your choice!

It looks like CRaVE’s roots are deep in the mattress industry. Please introduce yourself and give some background to our readers as to how you got started in the industry and what led up to the creation of the CRaVE brand?

My husband and I owned a mattress manufacturing company for almost 25 years. We were producing 1200 pieces (mattresses and foundations) a day and selling to some of the largest retailers in the United States. We saw the revolution starting to take place in direct to consumer sales, not only in mattresses, but in many spaces and of course, particularly Amazon. My daughter is at the top end of the millennial age and was the motivation behind our startup. So we invested in the equipment and technology to compress and roll a mattress and CRaVE was born.

Can you walk us through the inspiration for the company name as well as the logo? It seems like there is a interesting story behind it.

I wish I could say that there was a great story behind our name. We wanted something short and catchy. We put up names on a whiteboard and by process of elimination CRaVE rose to the top.

Is your location in High Point, North Carolina, a hub for bedding and furniture products, advantageous to obtaining quality materials for your products?

A little history: by the late 19th century, the Piedmont region of North Carolina had a healthy local furniture industry, a product of the abundance of timber in the surrounding forests and the ability for transportation and labor provided by the new Southern Railway. As the manufacturers grew and multiplied so did the supporting services with vendors of steel, foam, fiber, wood and fabric and by 1955 a full 60 percent of all furniture made in America hailed from a 125-mile radius of High Point.

But even with the competition over the last 20 years offering cheap, quick-turnaround furniture and mattresses made abroad, the NC manufacturers, though greatly diminished, have remained. The recent return for appreciation for American made is starting a resurgence in U.S. production.

All that being said, we here in High Point have access to the very best components for our mattresses and foundations. We source most all materials from within a 200 mile radius of the factory which also reduces our carbon footprint by reducing the fuel required to ship products long distances. Our foam, fiber, springs, wood, fabric and cartons are all produced here in North Carolina. We also believe strongly in supporting American businesses and keeping Americans working.

While you have four different mattress offerings, when looking through your social media accounts, it seems that most of the marketing focus is on the innerspring models, is there reasoning behind this push?

Yes, absolutely. We are one of the few bed in a box companies that can offer a compressed pocketed coil innerspring mattress. Pocketed coil innersprings work together to provide the ultimate comfort and superior support. Springs are expensive to manufacture and that is why they are used in virtually all luxury mattresses today. Most of the competition today offer compressed foam mattresses. Foam is static, easily compressed and inexpensive to produce. In addition, some foam mattresses sleep hot, some have a chemical odor or off-gassing, some have powdery residue and some are a difficult surface for sex. Our hybrid innerspring mattresses provide resiliency, are eco-friendly while supporting your spine and sleep cool for superior sleep. It is our number 1 best seller for good reason.

Without question, the mattress space has shifted a bit since Casper’s entry in 2014. There are now well over 125 online mattress brands. How would you suggest the consumer navigate through a sea of options out there?

It is difficult for the consumer when there are so many choices and unfortunately reviews are being bought and sold. But like any other major purchase, do your homework. Speak to the experts. Email, call or chat with the company. Ask specific questions. Are they a marketing company or do they have solid background in mattress manufacturing? Check on the return process in case you are not happy with your purchase. The mattress won’t go back in the box so how will a return be handled?

It isn’t just becoming tough for consumers to sift through the multitude of options, as a company, how does CRaVE try to get their product in front of as many people as possible?

Of course we use Google ads and social media. But we also send our product to bloggers and reviewers for honest opinions. We also have entered the hospitality industry and show our product at several hospitality shows.

Have you noticed any changes in the preferences of customers through your customer service channels as the online mattress vertical has begun to mature, such as asking technical questions on densities, gauges, etc?

Most consumers don’t really understand the technical inner workings of a mattress so they don’t know what questions to ask. The bottom line is, “will I be comfortable on this mattress and get a good night’s sleep?” Gauges of wire, densities of foam are all gobbledegook to most consumers. The mattress industry has a history of making it difficult to purchase a mattress. You can’t lift up the hood and look inside. We are selling upholstered rectangles. We love it when a customer calls us. We can cut through the clutter and misinformation to help them make an informed decision.

By offering two different firmness levels on both of your mattress offerings, do you fear that it ever creates indecisiveness with your consumers as they really aren’t sure what would be best for their body composition and sleep preferences?

Basically, the consumer knows whether they like sleeping on a cloud or on a firmer surface. There is a misconception that a firm (read hard) mattress is better for your back when in truth it is the exact opposite. A too hard mattress doesn’t have the cushioning that you need to come up into the curves of your spine to support it when lying flat so your spine is stressed during the night causing tossing and turning. We explain that our Ultra Plush Hybrid has great top plushness while the pocketed coils underneath provide the support without sinking. If they want something firmer we have the Luxury Firm. Again, not hard, but a firmer top feel.

Along those lines, returns as an issue in this industry regardless of the quality of the mattress. Is there anything that your customer service team can do on the front end to be sure the consumer is put in the best mattress to meet their needs?

Our customer service team is very good at explaining the types of mattresses when we speak to the customer since we are mattress professionals, not marketing people. In addition, we are really sleep experts as well, so we can usually address most all questions in language that is easy to understand so that the consumer can make an educated decision. By being able to give clear explanations we dramatically cut down on returns.

As someone who has been in the industry for a long time and probably seen all sorts of fads in mattresses, how do you feel about the boom of the online mattress industry and where do you see it heading over the next two to three years?

Over the last 30 years we have seen all types of iterations in the mattress industry from water beds to horse hair and everything in between. The bed in a box segment has been a disruptor in an industry that was ripe for disrupting. I just attended a conference where I heard a prediction that in 5 years all mattresses will be sold compressed! There are currently about 175 ecommerce mattress companies. They will all not survive. We have already seen attrition. Many of these companies are just trying to jump on the bandwagon and know nothing about mattress construction or sleep. They are opportunistic marketers. The cream always rises and in 2 to 3 years there will much fewer survivors. Those that offer a quality product, are honest, knowledgeable and transparent will survive. We have always had a philosophy in business that the consumer has to win, the vendor has to win and the company has to win. It takes all three to have a successful company.

Big thanks for the team at CRaVE for making this happen and check out our CRaVE mattress reviews for more information about their products.