Retail

Snowe, Simplicity And (Literally) Making Bedding Out Of Air

There is no shortage of direct-to-consumer (DTC) eCommerce firms offering luxurious, hotel-quality sheets to consumers — and doing so at a price that reflects a more middle class-focused approach to normally luxury items. Boll & Branch, Brooklinen and Parachute all offer something in that vein.

A new player has emerged into the pillow fight for bedding dominance, however. Home goods startup Snowe is now offering linen sheets and fluffy bedding advertised as made from air. The sheets are a new offering, but Snowe is not new to the market. It launched in 2015 by UPenn graduates Rachel Cohen and Andrés Modak who found the market for furnishing their post-graduation New York City apartment to be somewhat lacking. But where most use their furnishings-related frustrations to fuel irritated grumblings as they wander through IKEA, Cohen and Modak decided to create a firm to solve their troubles.

“When we set out to create our New York City home together, we were unhappy with the disposable quality and ubiquity of design in mass-produced homewares — at least those we were able to afford,” Cohen said in an interview. “High-design, luxury offerings we would fall in love with were always extremely overpriced and inaccessible, so we set out to create a solution.”

Snowe was that solution, a housewares startup focused on offering unfussy, simply designed home essentials made from high-quality materials, and it quickly gained a reputation for being the “Everlane of home goods,” according to Fast Company.

“We believe that thoughtful design and enduring quality didn’t need to be out of our reach,” Cohen said. “We were particularly inspired by the idea that good design balances form, function, honesty, durability and really is all about the details — from using the best materials [to] solving small pain points that we all know too well. We launched Snowe to create all the things we wanted for our home but could never find — and, in the process, unearthed an overwhelming appetite from others for the exact same need.”

Though it provides a variety of home goods including bedding, Snowe is best known among consumers for its dinnerware — particularly its best-selling dinner bowls — so its entrance into the realm of linen sheets is definitely a new venture. That venture is also one its founders shrugged off for a while.

Linen sheets have been growing in popularity and are increasingly trending on social media and Google, but Cohen and Modak said they mostly found them too stiff and unpleasant to want to get between. Cohen described the experience of sleeping on linen sheets as like sleeping on grass, and she’s not wrong, incidentally, as Snowe’s linen is made from flax, which is actually a grass.

Linen softens after years of washing, making for breathable materials that are a delight in summer months. The challenge for Snowe was to find a way to get the same effect more quickly so the sheets could already be soft when they shipped out. Finding that solution took a series of years, as the typical linen-softening process involves washing many, many times — usually with chemicals to speed things up. It works, but is time intensive, uses a lot of water and, on the whole, is not terrible ecologically friendly. Snowe didn’t want any of that.

What the company found was an Italian partner that instead uses a technique called air-whipping. This process is a ramped up, intensified version of how linen softens when it naturally dries outside on a line. It’s effective, Snowe’s founders noted, and much cleaner than the alternative.

Will the softer linens be a slam dunk in the crowded DTC bedding market? As always, that is hard to predict. The market for sheets — linen sheets, in particular — is crowded, and some firms like Sea Me specialize in linen sheets and linen sheets alone. That makes standing out from the crowd a challenge.

But Snowe’s sheets are nearly universally well-reviewed, particularly for their softness, and as few people truly relish an opportunity to sleep on stiff sheets, that’s undoubtedly all to the good.

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