Barry Weinstein started Pillowcase Studies in August 2011. The company, which makes pillowcases with academic notes printed on them, now has nine employees paid on commission. Weinstein started Pillowcase Studies by writing notes for his Financial Accounting class on his pillowcase. Today, the company now makes pillowcases featuring notes for eight other subjects including Psychology, Music Theory, Biology and Political Science, to name a few. Weinstein, a student at the London School of Economics, spoke with BusinessNewsDaily about his story and what other businesses can learn from Pillowcase Studies.
BusinessNewsDaily: Tell us about what your business?
Barry Weinstein: Financial accounting was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. For most people, trials and tribulations range from the college application process and apartment searches, to job hunting and breakups. My biggest struggle concerned the dichotomy between debits and credits. I studied eight hours straight for two nights in a row for my first test. Not only did I fail the test, but I fell asleep face first on my textbook leaving an unattractive red mark above my cheek. I failed and I was ugly.
Then it hit me! I thought that there had to be a better way to study. Why not make studying comfortable? I took all of the notes from the entire semester and wrote them on my pillowcase so I could study the information for a few minutes every night. Then when I fell asleep from potential exhaustion, I’d have a nice comfy place to rest my head. For the rest of the semester, I saw the information before I went to sleep and when my final came around, I pulled off an A and raised my grade to a B from an F. Not to mention that I never have to worry about that giant red mark on my face because my new textbook was fluffy!
BND: Why did you start your business? What opportunity was out there?
BW: Every college book and furniture store advertises that people who use their services and buy their products will somehow inherit an ability to 'express themselves as individuals .' Living in the dormitories of the London School of Economics I saw that lots of design specifically for college housing that was really unappealing to students looking to express themselves through their real passion: academics. In all of the poster sales and bedding stores I went to I didn’t see one themed item that allowed me or my nerdy friends to truly express ourselves .The underserved nerd-chic market is why I created Pillowcase Studies.
BND: What was the one moment where you thought you had something on your hands?
BW: I wasn’t confident about the idea until I had my first prototype and during product testing I woke up completely knowledgeable about the capital asset pricing model.
BND: How did you try to grow and handle that growth?
BW: My idea is very unique. It’s truly one of a kind and because of this I attracted large amounts of media attention from the get go. I started growing really during the holiday season when CBS Money Watch got a hold of my corporate title (SleepEO) and featured Pillowcase Studies in a story. From then, sales have been exponentially increasing and I almost had to consider switching my production facility to accommodate all of the orders. That being said, part of the magic behind a Pillowcase Study is that they’re completely made in New York City and moving to Ohio or China would take a lot of the personality out of it. I have also grown my business through having superior customer service.
BND: What can other businesses learn from your story?
BW: Businesses arise from fulfilling market wants and needs and if a person fixes a problem in their life. They might be able to fix the same problem in another person’s life. If enough people suffer from the same problem she might be able to make a career out of fixing it. For me, students were frustrated with studying and frustrated with poor design. I fixed it for myself, I fixed it for my friends, and now it’s my job to fix it for students around the United States.
BND: What advice do you have for other businesses or entrepreneurs?
BW: Always having a strong product is the key to small business success. For small businesses, having poor quality control can end a small business completely. While good customer service might cost money in the short run, being consumer oriented will increase positive word of mouth and can often lead to a net gain. People should always remember that if a customer likes a product, she tells three people. If a customer dislikes a product, she tells 10.
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.