Boll & Branch prides themselves on shaking up the bed linens industry. When the Tannens, co-founders of the company, were looking into the industry, they were struck by the lack of ability to track back things like sourcing, labor conditions, farming practices and other conditions related to production and distribution. So they set out to find out for themselves.
That led to Boll & Branch, a company that guarantees fair trade, organic and decent workplace conditions in the supply chain that brings their quality products from farm to factory to you. It’s hard to find bad reviews of Boll & Branch. People are very excited with the product and its commitment to better practices.
We’ve gathered a few reviews here for you, so you can get a quick sense of what others think who’ve experienced the product. And, yes, they’re all positive. We couldn’t find unsatisfied customers, which probably isn’t surprising considering the care they take from start to finish. At the end, we’ve tagged on a video of the Tannen’s trip to India. No transcription needed on this one. Just enjoy the trip along with them as they check into the conditions in the factory producing their sheets.
“As soon as I saw the box, I was expecting big things from them. I have never seen a sheet company put so much thought into the presentation of their product.”
She tried them out for a month straight, declaring at the end of the review that, “they are my all time favorite!”
“No more fighting over who’s hiney is out in the cold, we both have enough to tuck under our arms while sleeping. The sateen weave gives them a silky smooth feel against your skin making them ultra comfortable to slip into and snooze.”
Hard to beat that.
Meanwhile, over at GreenBrideGuide.com, they take a gander at the Fair Trade Organic Trimmed Duvet Cover, with similar positive results. She does remark that pricing, while low compared to other luxury brands, remains on the upper end. But she reminds us, “Bedding is something you will enjoy for decades – so while spending a little bit more now might not be in your nature, the difference is noticeable. When you think about how many hours you spend in bed, this is a GREAT place to go green and go luxury.”
There’s a phrase that gets bandied about a lot these days in internet and tech industries: disruption. A lot of time, that kind of talk is a sign of big hype, little substance. But Boll & Branch has been making waves in the bedding and linens business in big ways. They really deserve that descriptor. Everyone from the LA Times to the Wall Street Journal to home and lifestyle bloggers have been paying attention to what they’re doing.
We’ve got an interview today with one of Boll & Branch‘s founders and CEO, Scott Tannen. Tannen appeared on Bloomberg TV with Pimm Fox, where he described what makes his business so special and the surprising path he took to get there. We’ve transcribed that conversation out for you. Scroll down below the video and check it out.
FOX: All right. The business of bed sheets doesn’t usually get a lot of headlines but a new company is shaking u the sleepy industry. Oh yes. Joining me now is the founder and CEO of Boll & Branch Scott Tannen. Scott, thanks for being here.
TANNEN: Thanks for having me.
F: All right. I was talking about disruption in the bed linen industry. Tell us a little bit about how you got to this point.
T: Well, naturally I spent the last ten years in video games so it seemed like a logical step to me.
F: I was going to say, yes, a very normal transition. Video games to bed sheets.
T: It is, but to tell you the truth, when we talk about disruption the fact that my wife, who’s my co-founder, and I hadn’t been in the textiles industry that’s really what sets us up to be able to make change. Because it’s an old industry, it’s a sleepy industry. And people had been kind of doing things the same way for a long time. So that includes things like price points and margins that are extraordinarily high. A lot of big brands, a lot of big businesses and retailers are very comfortable with their 400% to 600% margins and aren’t willing to change it. So it takes somebody that’s going to ask tough questions about like the ethics and how things are made, as well as how things are made to come into the market and shake it up and make change.
F: All right, let’s start with the cotton. Where it comes from, how it’s grown and how you’re doing more than supplying jobs. You’re changing peoples lives.
T: Well, that’s really the goal. We started this business with a business idea. Which was that the bed linens industry needs to be shaken up. And we started meeting with folks and asking simple questions like where does the cotton come from, and where’s it made and what’s the factory like? And surprisingly, it’s not a very traceable industry. So we decided at that point that, again as outsiders, we didn’t have a lot of relationships with different…
F: So you went to India. You connected with CHETNA which is an organization for sustainable agriculture. But also treating the farmers, the weavers and all the people that work in the factories as human beings.
T: Well, exactly. We realized that fair trade’s important. It means the farmers that grow the cotton will be paid a fair wage. We also realized organic is important. We think of big large mechanized farms like in the United States. Most of the cotton we use comes from the developing world. These are four to six acre farms. Huge amounts of pesticides being supplied by hands by people who aren’t protected. So it’s dangerous. And those chemicals get into the ground water, get into the water supplies in these villages. So CHETNA is an organization that not only puts the mechanisms in place for farmers to learn how to farm organically, but also the feed money back into the communities.
F: Ok, Boll & Branch, you get the organic, fair trade cotton. What’s the price point? Because there’s no middle man it goes right to the custome.
T: Yep. The customers are buying this at wholesale. And that’s where the pricing comes in. So a king set of sheets it $250. If you were going to go to a luxury department store you muight pay $500 to $1000 for the same quality that may not be organic, that may not be sustainable.
F: And where do you want to go next with this? Do you want to do a location or are you just content to do it online?
T: To preserve the pricing we have to be an online business. We’ve got to keep our overhead low, so that’s exactly what we do. So we’ll have bath towels this summer, duvets this summer. And lots more colors in about a month or so.
F: I want to thank you, Scott Tannen, co-founder, CEO of Boll & Branch. Thanks for taking this time.
So there ya go! A look at what makes Boll & Branch tick, and why they’re shaking up the bed linens industry with their direct to consumer sustainable, organic, fair trade business model. Check back later for more reviews and interviews, all transcribed for you by us.