Entrepreneur

How These 2 S’poreans Started An Affordable, Organic Bedsheet Brand With No Biz Experience

Singaporeans are some of the hardest workers in the world.

Last year, it was reported that Singaporeans work an average of 45 hours a week, ranking second-hardest working city in the world.

Since we spend so much of our time working, getting good quality sleep to recharge is extremely important.

With a name that translates to “go to sleep” in Hindi, local startup SOJAO offers products that promote just that.

The startup sells affordable, luxurious sheets that are also certified organic, and lives by the vision of “Hustle Hard, Sleep Easy”.

Its aim is to disrupt the luxury bedding industry and at the heart of it, put a new meaning behind luxury — one that is inclusive, ethical, sustainable and helps to close the income inequality gap. 

Taking Their Business Idea From Dream To Reality

sojao singapore bed sheets
Image Credit: SOJAO

It all started when SOJAO co-founder and CEO Priscilla Tan was looking to purchase her first set of bed sheets, and was shopping around for high quality but affordable ones.

She told Vulcan Post that she couldn’t find a suitable set of bed sheets, and was “disappointed” to learn that “terms such as thread count and Egyptian Cotton, were actually mostly marketing gimmicks.”

That was when the ex-DBS SME Banking staff saw a gap in the market for luxurious, ethically-made sheets that are affordably priced.

Besides that, she wanted brands to engage with consumers to inform them on what they were actually purchasing.

That was when she roped in her co-founder, Janice Tan, to build the SOJAO brand with her, where they started out by working from Priscilla’s home in 2018.

The duo strongly believe in helping people sleep better, from customers, to the workers and cotton farmers in their supply chain.

However, the road to creating the brand they dreamt of was not smooth. Firstly, it was the first time starting a business for both co-founders, and they also did not have any prior background in textiles.

Priscilla shared that the pair had to learn everything from the ground up, and it took them about two years to find the right material and partners that they wanted to work with.

Luxury With A Conscience

sojao singapore bed sheets
Image Credit: SOJAO

From their research, they learnt that cotton is the “dirtiest crop” in the world due to a large amount of synthetic pesticide and insecticide used.

However, cotton is also “extremely durable and easy to care for”, and when Priscilla and Janice discovered organic cotton, they were set on using it in their products.

SOJAO is the only local bed and bath company that is 100% GOTS-certified organic.

The Global Organic Textile Standard is one of the highest certification for organic cotton production in the world, and gives customers the peace of mind in knowing that what they have purchased from the brand is “truly organic and ethically made.”

SOJAO’s organic cotton is grown from non-GMO seeds in India by a cooperative of smallholder farmer families, without the use of harmful pesticides or insecticides.

The organic cotton is then carefully harvested by hand, which preserves the quality of the cotton better than harvesting by machine. 

Finally, the sheets are sewn by SOJAO’s workers, who are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions in accordance with International Labour Laws.

Even the packaging is sustainable — customers can opt for ‘Minimal Packaging’ at checkout, and plastic-free, FSC-certified and recyclable boxes will be used.

sojao singapore bed sheets
Image Credit: SOJAO

Besides its commitment to sustainability, the startup is also very focused on empowerment. It has a journal series called “She-Hustles“, which tells the stories of various strong and diverse women.

Expanding Into A One-Stop Organic Home Lifestyle Brand

sojao singapore bed sheets
Image Credit: SOJAO

In the two years since SOJAO’s founding, it has grown about three-fold. The company is also 100 per cent self-owned, and profitable.

SOJAO has expanded its bedsheet offerings from four to nine bed sizes, including the Cot size and California King size.

Prices range from S$98 for a classic sheet set to around S$328 for a bundle set for the California King bed.

They have also expanded their colour ways, have organic bath towels as a product offering, and are launching loungewear in a few weeks.

But the team does not plan to stop at that. The founders aim to grow SOJAO into a trusted, one-stop organic home lifestyle brand.

Venturing into new markets is also on the cards, and SOJAO already has customers reaching out to them from abroad.

“We want to continue providing quality, sustainably and ethically-made goods at an affordable price, reflecting our drive to inspire people to make better choices in their homes,” said Priscilla.

From a bigger perspective, we also want to do our part to close the global inequality gap by supporting fair wages and working with ethical factory partners, so as we grow, we hope to make a bigger, positive impact on the world!

– Priscilla Tan, co-founder and CEO of SOJAO

Featured Image Credit: SOJAO

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