One year ago, Sleepgoddess founder Laurelle Darroux set about pursuing her lifelong dream of starting her own business. Here, she reflects on finding her confidence, building a community, and expanding her mission to help everyone get a good night’s sleep…
It’s fair to say that in an era of overactive minds, pandemics and caffeine overload, sleep evades even the best of us.
And while the importance of good sleep has never been more glaring, we’re also striving for a more sustainable way of life.
That means that buying a surplus of over-packaged sleep aids and not-so-green bed furnishings only adds to a growing toxicity when it comes to the sleep industry, especially when the solution to everything is a return to pared-back, simple and smart products.
That’s why Laurelle Darroux is making it her mission to make good sleep a sustainable and accessible practice for everyone with her business, Sleepgoddess and its innovative offerings, from vegan silk pillowcases to allotment-grown pillow sprays.
Here, she explains how she’s making it happen…
Taking on the sleep industry
“I’m vegan and I care about sustainability, it’s a big thing for me. I think we all have to do our part.
“As someone with textured hair, I’ve always used satin pillowcases.
“But it’s always nagged at me that satin isn’t a natural fabric, and a big part of the sleep industry is focused on selling these unsustainable fabrics and labelling them as wellness products.
“I wanted to give people the option to buy products that helped them sleep better, but without the cost to the environment.
“So, I used YouTube to learn about different silks and satin alternatives. Then I came across recycled silk polyester, bamboo silks and hemp silk.
“I was thrilled that there were options to contribute to the sleep industry in an ethical way, and I saw a way to make it work.
“I knew that the moment I created something, it had to not just serve a purpose, but it had to be the best. It had to be holistic, it had to be natural, it had to be organic, definitely made in the UK.
“I wanted them to be made by a qualified seamstress, not a child or someone who’s being unfairly paid, but also to know that there were no toxic chemicals in the printed fabric, no toxic dyes being used.
“Even when I’m using bamboo and hemp, I want to know that I’m using quality silks that don’t use as much water or maintenance on the farms.
“I didn’t want to start a business for profit. I wanted to start one to create something that was going to be good, something that was going to make a difference – that wasn’t going to have a negative impact on the planet.
“People find it really hard to wind down and often think they need extreme fixes or to spend lots of money, but that’s not the case.
Making a difference
“When I first got started, my working hours were anywhere from 9pm-2am, and this is where I started to really look at my market.
“A lot of people on social media were asking me about sleep and how they can improve theirs. I was able to use my experience to tell people about my lifestyle and what worked for me.
“I started off with pillow cases and scrunchies. Then, when I saw how popular they were I started experimenting and moved on to natural pillow sprays, but I always like to look for a spin and try to see where there’s a gap for something.
“Then, I had the idea for the shower mists. It’s similar to a bath bomb and filled with essential oils.
“You basically put it on the floor of your shower, turn on your hot water, and then you can inhale the vapours to really help you relax and wind down before sleep. And that has been amazing; everyone really appreciates that product.
“Not everyone has a bath or is able to use one, plus showers are better for the environment.”
“The first sparks of Sleepgoddess began when I started putting satin in my daughter’s cot and pram to help with her dry-texture hair.
“It was such a faff and I was convinced there must be an easier way, so finding one became my mission.
“I don’t usually sew, but I went about making elasticated satin pillowcases that you pull on and off different kinds of headrests, and I was happy with what I did.
“Around March 2020 I was trying to find a seamstress, but we immediately went into lockdown, so everywhere was closed.
“Most people did not want to take on the project because they were concentrating on face masks, and nobody wanted to take on a prototype for a pillowcase.
“But I persevered and thankfully, a factory right here in Dagenham agreed to do a prototype.
“To be honest, I was really surprised that people liked my pillowcases. My background is not in fashion, but I have an eye for what works. Most pillowcases have solid colours, so I went about creating bold patterns with vegan, sustainable fabrics.
“My products use natural ingredients, often that I’ve grown myself, and they work.
“Then there’s the packaging, which is reusable. I use drawstring bags instead of fancy, expensive packing boxes because they have more than one use, you don’t have to throw them away afterwards.
“I only use glass jars for my shower mists, again because they’re reusable.
“I don’t use any plastic in my products. I’m focused on building a quality, ethical brand, with pure good wholesome products to help you sleep. Because that’s all we want to do as people, we want quality sleep so we can wake up feeling our best.
From the ground up
“As this was my first solo business venture, I needed a lot of guidance, and things like Google came into force from the get-go.
“I found out about the Google one-to-one mentoring so I signed up for it, and I’ve done about four of the mentoring sessions, including the social media marketing and the digital marketing strategy one-to-one sessions.
“It’s been really good for me because it’s taught me how to use keywords in my descriptions, title my photos, tagging, everything. I’ve also learned how to establish different things that I can do for returning customers.
“The mentoring is case-by-case depending on your needs and your business, but my website was audited in my one-to-one to tell me things that are working and things that aren’t working, and things that I could make better, so that’s helped.
“It’s been a lot and it’s been free, so that’s been the best thing for me ever.
“The first thing is to have that burning desire to learn, be resourceful and be inquisitive. No matter what the topic is, it’s already on Google, someone has already asked that question. There’s so much opportunity to expand what you know.
The power of starting small
“When I think back to where I was in 2020, to be honest it was hard.
“Lockdown was really difficult, I was isolated with my toddlers and I was miserable. I didn’t have the confidence to even start the business, even though I had the desire to.
“And even while I was doing it I was still thinking I was crazy, and I didn’t have people around me that I could ask whether the idea was good or anything like that.
“But I could ask Google – and Google Trends told me that people were interested in using satin, it told me that people were interested in using silk to protect their hair. It kind of answered my question even if I didn’t have a community to ask about my idea.
“The answers that I got from Google Trends are probably where I got confidence, because I found out that there was already an interest in that kind of product, so why would it not work? And that gave me the confidence to pursue that idea.
“I couldn’t have predicted how much of a success Sleepgoddess would become. It just goes to show that even as a small business you too can make a small contribution towards sustainability. I really do believe it’s the small steps.
“If everybody played a part, we would be in such a better position. So when it comes to business, it’s the individual activities that matter – when it comes to packaging, when it comes to fabrics, when it comes to your delivery. It’s these little things that matter.
“You don’t have to make a grand step, but start small.”
In the past 18 months, an average of 5,000 British businesses a week sold online for the first time. Google provides companies like Laurelle’s with tools to support growth. Whatever your mission, Google can help you make it a reality with free tools and training.
Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.