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How Two Brothers Built a Successful Company Around Pillows with Twilla

You don’t need a super technical or complicated idea to start a successful business. For example, the founders of Twilla started with just a sewing machine and a desire to create more comfortable pillows. It doesn’t hurt to have an entrepreneurial sibling and a background in product design, either. Learn more about Twilla below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Sells unique pillows.

Founders Mark and Peter Rane told Small Business Trends, “We sell adjustable sleeping pillows that are available in Queen, King, and Body sizes.”

Business Niche

Offering a simple and easy-to-use product.

Rane says, “There are other adjustable pillows on the market, but none of them adjust so quickly and cleanly or offer the versatility that we do.”

How the Business Got Started

To create a product for their own use.

Rane explains, “The idea for Twilla started several years ago when we were looking for a pillow for ourselves. It seemed like there were a lot of good pillows on the market, but when we tried them out, we were constantly disappointed. Being designers, we just naturally started evaluating all of the pillows and then making our own prototypes. We spent a lot of time behind the sewing machine before we thought about turning it into a brand.”

Biggest Win

Receiving endorsements from physical therapists and doctors.

Rane adds, “It was huge because we didn’t pay them to talk about our brand. We gave them a sample so that they could try it out and hopefully give us feedback based on their experience and expertise. We had no expectations or pressure on them, but they came back with resounding positive feedback.”

Biggest Risk

Launching on Kickstarter.

Rane says, “We had always thought that KS might be a good avenue for us, but when we were finally ready to launch, we had very little time to put everything together if we were going to hit the holiday season. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we rallied and pulled off a great launch. We put it all out there and it could have flopped, but we ended up having a very successful campaign.”

Lesson Learned

Be ready to learn as you go.

Rane explains, “Instead of ignoring an aspect of the business, or saying “we’re not good at [xyz],” we now say something closer to “we’re excited to learn about that part of the business and become experts.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Spreading the word about their initial product.

Rane says, “Being Product Designers, we would love to use the money to invest in a new idea that we’ve been working on. But, the best thing we could do for the business right now would be to invest in a nationwide advertising campaign to spread the word about our pillow. Being a new brand, we know how important it is to get eyes on our pillow.”

Hidden Talent

Sewing potential new products.

Rane adds, “We really enjoy sewing! We can prototype so quickly and it’s always fun to come up with new ideas. Our company is still very small, so we can be flexible and try things as we think of them.”

Favorite Quote

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have.” – Maya Angelou


Image: Twilla, Mark and Peter Rane

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