What was the spark that inspired the birth of your concept?
I visited my father in a nursing facility and saw him slumped over in his geriatric chair. I knew that I couldn’t do anything for his end of life experience, but I could make him more comfortable. Finding no product on the market that could support this head and neck while sitting upright in a geriatric chair, I re-imagined the pillowcase with straps, so the pillow can stay in place, as well as an enhanced foam embodiment to achieve ultimate comfort.
What problem does it solve?
Millions of people are doctor prescribed upright, positional sleeping for optimal healing, but there are very few items on the market that support both the head and neck. Regal Dreamzzz straps to the back of a lazy boy, geriatric chair and hospital bed to give reliable support. The user can insert their favorite pillow density into Regal Dreamzzz so they do not have to adjust to yet another pillow. The relief of the Regal Dreamzzz pillow system is immediate.
How did you come up with the name?
My husband came up with the name, Regal Dreamzzz. I wanted a name that would elude to dignity and rest – yet the combination of dignified rest seemed more like a cemetery. Regal Dreamzzz describes the pillow system best as it enables the user to maintain a comfortable position to ensure restorative rest.
How are you better/different than your competition?
There exist several products that support either the head or the neck but they do not do both unless it is a specialty molded pillow which must be used in a bed. Regal Dreamzzz is superior to my competition because of the myriad ways one can use it to create optimal comfort. You can use it with your pillow inserted or simply use the pillowcase on its own. My son uses it in college while working on his computer in bed. The small square pillow insert is that perfect support when reading a book, or working on your computer in bed.
How do you make money?
Regal Dreamzzz has just secured our first big order. We have sold half of our first production run and will be tripling our production for our next order. Our first entry into the market has been the assisted living market, but with calls from Bed, Bath and Beyond pillow buyer, I know that the consumer market will take off quickly. I’m trying to learn best practices from one vertical market before I expand.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is the joy and excitement seeing the progress of this idea come to fruition. Every step toward bringing Regal Dreamzzz to market has been celebrated from filing the patent to finding my suppliers to receiving my first order, I am so grateful and excited about the future. It is no longer IF this is going to happen but WHEN.
What has been the biggest surprise in your entrepreneurial experience to date?
The biggest surprise has been a then generous community of entrepreneurs and professionals I have met who are so gracious with their time, talent, and advice.
Your biggest success?
My biggest success so far has been my pre-orders and turning down an investment offer that wanted controlling interest.
Do you have a failure story to share? What did you learn from this failure?
I learned that everything has to be in writing. I had a verbal agreement with one supplier and when I called to place the order on the fabric he increased the price by 20%. I had nothing to prove the price that he promised and then had to find another supplier who had better pricing which meant another trip to LA. While I am pleased to have built a relationship with my current supplier, I was initially too trusting and not wanting to offend by requiring written agreements. Lesson learned.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night?
What keeps me up at night is when to commit to outsourcing my process and paying the monthly charges, and if/when to commit to overseas production.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received (and from whom)?
The best entrepreneurial advice I have received was “Go with your gut,” by Nitin Rai.
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur?
The #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur would be to go to the Small Business Development Center. The staff is knowledgeable beyond measure and the guidance I received at the SBDC was invaluable. I still work closely with my coach.
What is the #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur?
I don’t have a #1 book that I would recommend. I would go to the library and find books that answered my question of the moment and then grab another. I did not read one book in its entirety but have gleaned information from a myriad collection.
What song best describes your entrepreneurial journey?
The song that best describes my entrepreneurial journey is A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman soundtrack.
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like?
Regal Dreamzzz is in hospitals worldwide so all people have dignity while recovering from their ailments. Also, Regal Dreamzzz’s travel size is the preferred support for travelers.
What’s your favorite local business and why?
My favorite local business is Grab a Gyro is because they have consistently good food and excellent customer service.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an inventor. I remember a class assignment in 3rd grade whereby we had to invent a new product and I invented liquid paper in a pen form. I was worried that my teacher would steal that idea. I have files of my ideas and business plans for 17 different inventions. Regal Dreamzzz is my first idea that I’ve really invested time and money to bring this to market.
Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business? How has it helped you, and what challenges has it posed?
I love Oregon and am glad that Regal Dreamzzz is headquartered here. Starting my business here has helped me because Oregonian business leaders are very accessible and willing to meet. This accessibility enabled me to find suppliers, vendors, and potential investors through these personal introductions.
The challenges I’ve had with starting a business here is the lack of resources for competitive pricing and a strong sewing community. Therefore, the likelihood of keeping manufacturing in the State is as slim as I scale. Ideally, I would like to keep part of my manufacturing here.
Any other tidbits or fun facts to share?
A tidbit of gratitude (plus much more) goes to OEN and the community that they foster for entrepreneurs. I have met so many hard-working entrepreneurs who are extremely creative and inspiring. I’m also grateful to TiE Oregon for their monthly Pitch Clubs whereby I honed my skills at pitching and received valuable feedback.
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