Arguably the most crucial part of one's day is the part where you rest and sleep. Sleep recharges you so you can take on the day ahead, and no one knows this better than Linen & Homes founder Ryan Tan.
Tan and his wife almost accidentally stumbled upon the idea for their business, experiencing the comfort that bamboo bed sheets can bring and realizing that it could be an opportunity to help other people with their sleep. Thus, the kernel of the idea for their online store grew into a thriving linens business – and a stable health business – that many Filipinos are growing to love.
Tan tells us the story of Linen & Homes and the keys to their success in a meaningful conversation:
Who are you as a business owner, and what is your background?
We are a husband-and-wife team, with our most recent venture before Linen & Homes in brand, product development, sourcing, and distribution.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
We came across Linen & Homes’ first product, bamboo bed sheets, while on honeymoon in the US. It was the first premium home product we bought, and it significantly improved the quality of our sleep. We found it difficult and quite expensive to get in the Philippines and learned that barely anyone knew about bamboo sheets, so we decided that there must be an opportunity to help people get better sleep conveniently and at a fair price.
From this point on, we grew our collection of products based on customer feedback driven by an appreciation for the difference in quality sleep. Simply though, we loved the product, learned about the power of better sleep, and went from there.
What motivated you to take the leap and start the business?
We come from entrepreneurial families, so we have considered or tested business ideas here and there. We were already working on another business when we realized how much we had fallen in love with our sleep. So, we took the leap on working on a brand that would help people love their sleep – and of course, waking up from it! These days, customers tell us that we have made it difficult to get out of bed.
What is your team like?
We have a lean team and hope to keep it that way. We believe that we can sell products at a fair price by keeping unnecessary costs low. Of course, we do our best to ensure that our team lives a healthy life and strive for customers to receive a great experience.
What were your biggest challenges in running the business?
Pandemic aside, one of the challenges we face is other companies or individuals who opt to communicate with consumers using plenty of confusing marketing jargon, or even deceit. For example, I have seen products that prominently label themselves as bamboo, but once you look at the fine print, it’s made from something else. This makes it more difficult for consumers to learn and know what to trust.
What was the most crucial piece of advice you got concerning running a business?
This one is difficult because there are many. But if we were to select one right now, it would be focus. Focus on your customers. Focus on your own business. Be careful of “shiny object syndrome” or being overly watchful or concerned about competition. While we're confident that our products help customers get better sleep (as demonstrated by the reviews), we remain grateful and continually striving to deliver a great experience.
What would you say separates you from your competition?
The cheesy truth would be love. Love started the brand and is what keeps it going. We love our products. We use every product we sell. We are our own customers. The same year that we launched the brand, we had our first baby, and I am sure every new parent will quickly realize how important quality sleep truly is, especially if you can barely get any! We hope that customers love the products too, and thankfully, they do.
How did your customers find you?
Customers find us through social media and word of mouth. We are available at select brick and mortar locations as well. Before the pandemic, we also participated in local bazaars and hosted events with our community.
What have your customers traditionally said about you?
We are incredibly grateful that so many people love Linen & Homes' products as we do. We are happy many also feel the care we put into the brand, and the kindness we would like our team to embody. While we certainly seek to improve on all areas of the business, we are happy to hear from customers that they have fallen in love with sleep, get much better sleep, or funnily, have a more challenging time leaving their bed.
In what ways have you adapted to the digital space?
Thankfully, because we wanted convenience to be a part of the brand experience, we have been digitally-oriented from the beginning.
What made you decide to use Shopify for your business?
Over the years, we have tried many other platforms. Shopify has proven to be the simplest for both the team and for customers.
How long have you been using Shopify for your business?
And how has Shopify made your business easier?
Because we began with Shopify, we feel privileged to have potentially not encountered problems we may have with other platforms. I am happy with the focus Shopify places on its core solution. It’s a relatively easy eCommerce easy platform to use, and there are some great Shopify apps that you can integrate into your business to make things easier.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
The pandemic created physical, mental, and emotional challenges for our team, supply chain, and logistics. Thankfully though, we can serve people looking to improve their home, sleep, and wellness. While the challenges persist, we try our best to get better sleep to people conveniently and efficiently while keeping best practices for our team's health and safety.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
While there is merit to the pursuit of perfection, getting things done, and continuous improvement is vital for business growth.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, especially during our current situation?
Each person is experiencing their own situation, so do your best to embody kindness, patience, and gratitude. While it’s completely okay not to be okay, a proactive, positive mindset will be the differentiator. Thinking negatively has its benefits too, though it will serve one well to be aware of its potential purpose.
No matter what your circumstance, there is opportunity everywhere, and it becomes about the next step you take. Passion aside, one must learn to enjoy the journey because while end results are glorified, the process is what persists every day. The goals keep on moving.
Start your own online shopAre you feeling inspired by Tan's story? Maybe it's time you start your own online shop today. With the help of Shopify, it’s now easier than ever, too. For a monthly fee, you can start, market, and manage your business on a platform that helps you do everything you need to build your own brand online.