Selling a Good Night’s Sleep


Are you ready to start a small business but unsure of what you could possibly do? One key to success is to choose a field that you already know well. The coach and assistant coach of University of South Carolina’s women’s basketball team did exactly this, and it has paid off immensely.

Like many athletes, Susan Walvius and Michelle Marciniak loved the latest innovations in performance apparel. One day Walvius remarked to Marciniak that she wished there were bed sheets made out of the soft, breathable fabrics that she wore every day in her job. Marciniak pointed out that this was an excellent business idea and the company Sheex was formed.

Luckily, the two women worked at a college and had access to business experts who advised them on how to open a small business. They set themselves to learning everything about performance clothing and the field of bedding in general, including how sports companies create moisture-wicking and heat-transferring garments. They then patented the idea to keep competition from springing up before they had even started.

This was the easy part. From there, the pair had to raise the one million dollars that it would take to launch the business, find a manufacturing facility equipped to make their product, and convince stores to carry it. Although it took constant phone calls and emails, just a few months from their land-breaking conversation they had a product ready to sell.


Sheex has been available online since this spring. The women have paid particular attention to branding, determining their market, and marketing in targeted, cost effective ways. The tagline, “Sleep better. Play better” makes it clear what benefit this brand offers athletes. Although athletes are certainly the target audience, many people are looking for any way to sleep better at night.

Fortune named these two women among the top entrepreneurs of the year for their drive and incredible gains in an economy that seems pre-set to failure. Determined to give back to the community throughout their trek to success, both women have participated in business summits. These commitments combined with marketing take them away from home almost constantly, but the work is worth the prize: a successful company.

Sheex’s big break came recently, when the NBA asked to distribute the bedding in their Manhattan store. This opens the door for other sales through the well known basketball association, including in the many branded stores as well as on the website. However, if you need a cool, comfortable night of sleep, the bedding is currently for sale on its own website as well.

Do you have a great idea for a small business? Sheex is a good example of how to make it happen. Talk to experts and get to know everything about your field. Get necessary patents and trademarks to protect your company from impostors. Then, build a brand, complete with a professional logo, and market your product aggressively. If your product has any potential for success, these steps are sure to lead you there.