How an e-commerce start-up turned into a social enterprise
Client: 41 Winks
Challenge: Help a small scale bedding company distribute its excess product while serving the community
Impact: A reinvigorated socially conscious brand
41Winks is a bedding company whose brand shines with confidence, girlpower, and fresh energy. Few would suspect that less than a year ago, 41 Winks contemplated closing its doors for good. We at Of Course were fortunate enough to partner with them and help them pivot their company in their new direction.
Olivia White, CEO & Creative Director of 41 Winks, took ownership of the company from her aunt who ran the dorm bedding supplier for many years, but due to outside factors, had to let it go dormant. White brought on Morgan Hoffman, their current brand and business developer, and together they rebranded 41 Winks, breathing new life into the company. Stuck with a huge excess of off-brand product from the company’s earlier years, they wanted to distribute this product in a socially conscious manner and turned to Of Course to help facilitate this process in an innovative and creative way.
A New Mindset
The process began with starter exercises to help the team learn how to think differently and expand their creativity.
Together the team learned about each other and stepped out of their comfort zone. They contemplated which communities mattered to them and which ones they wanted to serve by distributing their excess inventory. As a dorm bedding company, they turned their focus to community college students, who may find it difficult to afford quality bedding. But they still needed a more hands-on approach. White emphasized that they wanted to break any and all assumptions they had about that community and do “boots-on-the-ground” interviews instead to understand student perspectives straight from the source.
Immersing in Users
The team wrote and rewrote questions, learned how to effectively interview and listen, and researched local schools to visit. The questions centered on learning about both the students’ daily lives and dreams. However, when they arrived at the community college in Queens, they quickly had a realization.
The students kept jumping into a 5-year plan, or dismissing the question, saying things like “dreaming is a luxury — I don’t have time to think about it because I’m juggling ten things at once.” Despite the humbling responses, White remembers the team saw this as a source of inspiration.
The first step to creating a dream space? Building a giant dreamcatcher to hold them all! Dubbing the project #DREAMONIT, the team returned to the community college with their creation in tow and asked passersby to write down their dreams and tie them to the streamers. Each participant was invited to a picnic 41 Winks had set up a few blocks away, where they could draw out their dreams on an excess product, then take the product home and “DREAM ON IT!”
The dreams the team uncovered during the picnic inspired them to develop a new brand line and giveback program to distribute the excess inventory: the #DREAMONIT campaign. Partnering with a designer from California, the team built a new product around their social impact project.
With the aid of a mutual partner, Of Course made the introduction between 41 Winks and NYC Rescue Mission, a non-profit organization that supplies sanctuary, food, and life skill training to the homeless. For every #DREAMONIT pillowcase sold, 41 Winks donated a blanket and pillow to NYC Rescue Mission. These blankets and pillows were used as graduation gifts for women who completed their life skills training program and were embarking on the next chapter of their lives. Today, with the excess inventory depleted, 41 Winks continues to brainstorm and develop ways in which their product can serve communities of women.
The progress 41 Winks has made is truly remarkable. The once tiny business on the brink of closure just a year ago is now developing their product line to include eye masks and decorative pillows, as well as expanding to wholesale.
In truth, none of this was planned or intended when Of Course first met up with 41 Winks. Of Course brought the tools and a new frame of mind, and let the ideas develop and flourish. What resulted was an incredible success story for 41 Winks, NYC Rescue Mission, and the larger community. Of Course is excited to continue supporting 41 Winks to integrate social impact into their business and can only dream of what this company will achieve in the future.