Tencel fabrics are having a moment.
Created by Austrian textile giant Lenzing, Tencel is the brand name for a set of lyocell and modal fibres – think Kleenex versus tissues. Made from sustainably sourced natural raw material wood using environmentally responsible processes, these fibres are widely used in the fashion and bedding industry for its softness and eco-friendliness.
Weavve Home is one of Tencel’s growing list of adopters. The three-year-old local bedding company has been selling out their 100% Tencel lyocell sheets that feature a 80s yarn count (higher than many similar bedding in the market) and a 400 thread count Sateen weave. This translates to silky smooth, shiny sheets that are breathable and absorbent, which reduces odour and bacteria proliferation.
Building on the success of the fabric, Weavve Home launched Singapore’s first 100% Tencel lyocell duvet that keeps sleepers cool when hot and warm when cold, thanks to the fibres’ temperature regulating properties. Because duvets are generally washed less frequently, the brand’s new insert is treated with Silvadur Advanced Microbial Control technology to eliminate bacteria, fight mold and fungi, as well as prevent discolouration and degradation for up to 50 launderings. Those with sensitive skin can also rest easy: the duvet is certified toxin-free with the label Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, so it’s safe for everyone, including babies.
Since sleeping with the complete lyocell range – sheets and duvet – for about two months, I hadn’t woken up in the middle of the night to kick away the covers when it got too warm. Weavve Home’s lyocell bedding is great for hot sleepers like me who want the comfort and softness of a quilted duvet without the heat. Less disruptions, more blissful sleep.
Keen to learn more sleep hacks and the brand’s journey, I quizzed Weavve’s founders Ryan Yim and Daniel Tan on their sleep hacks, as well as their business in helping people get quality rest.
Names: Ryan Yim and Daniel Tan
Profession: Founders of Weavve Home
Industry: Home & Living
Startup since: 2019
Company size: 16
Tell us about Weavve. How did it begin?
Ryan: Weavve Home was born from one of those late night conversations about how sleep was always lacking and how a good set of sheets can really make a difference. We agreed that finding the perfect set of sheets seemed elusive, even after trying countless brands and doing extensive research.
It was out of this frustration where we decided that if it did not exist, then we would make it ourselves. We embarked on a year-long journey into the world of bedlinen during which we learnt all about the raw materials, production techniques and more. It took many rounds of prototyping with different materials, techniques and specifications in order to arrive at the “ultimate” bed sheets we’ve always wanted. We even bought all the different brands and sent them for lab analysis during this process!
Daniel: I’ve known Ryan since we were in kindergarten. And have been great friends ever since. Even when our professional lives took different paths, we kept in constant contact over the years and constantly shared experiences and ideas. Weavve was inspired by the pursuit of creating great home products. But it was also inspired by the desire to turn our homes into a haven. Moving into our 30s, getting married to our better halves, building our homes, careers and social lives, we realised the importance of enjoying our homes and creating one that we could be proud of. And what better place to start than the bedroom – where we spend a third or more of our lives in?
Share with us Weavve’s sustainability efforts.
Ryan: From production to packaging, We strive to be as sustainable as we can in different aspects of our business. When it comes to packaging, we are not only conscious about plastic but also waste. We remove unnecessary one time elements in the packaging and in the design process, have ensured that nearly everything from the box to the tote bag that the bedlinen comes in can be reused.
Product wise, most are made from Tencel fibres from the Austrian company Lenzing. Although these are more costly, they come from 100% sustainable botanic origins, and the production process recycles 99% of the water and materials used. Furthermore these fibres are compostable and biodegradable.
Daniel: The key sustainability principle we focus on with all that is to make products that can last a long time, which you’d want to use over and over again. As a rule, we favour brands and products that are highly functional, reliable and durable. We’ve extended this philosophy to Weavve’s products. The Tencel Lyocell fibres that make up our product, the cotton fibre, all other materials – we don’t want our customers to have to replace the products quickly and be throwing away waste products on a regular basis – that will totally defeat all the other sustainability efforts mentioned by Ryan.
We love the new Tencel Lyocell Duvet! What’s its story?
Ryan: Many of our customers who loved our Tencel Lyocell sheets and mattress protectors wanted to have a complete Tencel experience – and what was missing was the duvet. At that point we also realised that there wasn’t a pure 100% Tencel Lyocell duvet in the market – and it seemed like a great opportunity for us to address that need.
The use of 100% Tencel Lyocell fibres for both the casing and the filling really pushes the strength of Tencel Lyocell’s thermal regulating properties to the maximum. This duvet, even though lightweight, can keep one warm on cold, rainy nights and in air conditioning. However, it is also cool when used just with a fan on warmer nights, perfect for tropical climates!
Daniel: Frankly, the prototyping process was really frustrating. Balancing the lightness of the duvet with other performance metrics we wanted took multiple prototypes and close to a year. Adding on to that, we view the duvet as different from a set of bedsheets as one doesn’t wash a duvet often. Hence, adding Dupont’s patented Silvadur silver ion technology provides significant protection against bacteria, mould and fungi, and odour, allowing us to sleep fresher for longer!
The duvet is also certified toxin-free by Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex. This means that there are no residual harmful chemicals in the finished products, and are safe for our consumers, even babies.
What has been your biggest hurdle and how did you overcome it?
Ryan: The biggest change for me was working with a business partner, and the challenge was in learning to build a dynamic working relationship where we can leverage on each other’s strengths. Daniel and I come from different backgrounds. He brings his experience in venture capital and running strategy, corporate finance and growth for Unity, a multibillion dollar Silicon Valley tech startup that has since listed. It has been a learning experience for me and also I have been challenged to improve and better myself in these aspects.
Daniel: I’m from a B2B world, but upon embarking on this direct to consumer e-commerce journey, I’ve had to adapt many of my skill sets. Ryan has taught me much about product development, design, digital marketing and e-commerce from the B2C aspect. Learning from his experiences and adding my perspective or a different way of thinking really helped us align and make the right decisions at the beginning.
What are your goals for 2022? And in the near future?
Ryan: For me, it’s about how we can continue to find areas to launch great products, building on the strong reception we’ve seen around our bedding products. We’ve gotten great feedback from our customers on both our current products and also what they hope to see us offer next; this spurs us on! There are a number of ideas in the pipeline for other home products, and we are working now to see which ones we can actually bring to fruition as high quality, durable and differentiated products.
Daniel: Something that the team is quite interested to explore is how we can better serve customers outside Singapore. We have a number of orders coming from overseas customers with them bearing the full delivery cost. I think the question is how we can effectively serve the demand for our products that we know is there.
What are you most tired of hearing in your line of work?
Ryan: From day one it has been, “how many thread counts are your sheets?” When we started this journey, one of the key questions we had to solve was to understand the anatomy of what made a great bedsheet. We realised that the marketing around high thread count was often misleading and had no bearing on the comfort and durability of good sheets – and this was one of our key motivators in starting Weavve. We learnt that what really matters are the quality of the fibre and the quality of the threads that make the sheets.
Daniel: For the whole of 2021, it’s been, “are you out of stock?” It has been quite frustrating for us and our customers when some popular colours and sizes sell out due to greater than planned demand. Our lead time is quite long as our fabrics have to be made to order due to our high specifications. This is not a problem one can solve immediately, and we’ve been actively working on a number of measures with our suppliers from the start of this year. It’s taken some patience and a lot of collaboration, but we’re quietly confident the system we’ve put in place will mitigate quite a bit of this risk going forward.
How has your business changed your life?
Ryan: I’ve always had an interest in multiple areas from photography to product design to business and marketing. I enjoyed pursuing each discipline and endeavour as it allowed me to gain more knowledge and insight that I could apply across the rest. Now, more than ever, I am able to bring together all my different interests and skill sets into a singular platform which is Weavve. I can see and apply the learnings and connect the dots much faster, creating more impact, and that has been extremely rewarding for me.
Daniel: I’ve always tried to do my best in everything I participate in since I was a kid, and in all my jobs and roles. However, when the company is ours, the feeling of accountability to our customers and team is something more than I’ve ever felt before. We are largely in control of most aspects of our business, so letting any one customer or team member down is something we are absolutely accountable for. I have to be even more purposeful and careful, without letting deliberation and a fear of making mistakes hold us back from making the right decisions for our customers, our team and the business.
What are you most proud of about your business?
Ryan: Without a doubt I would say it’s the team at Weavve Home that I work with everyday. They are the reason for how far we have come today, and I firmly believe that they will be the key to our success in the future. They bring a wide range of expertise and skills to the table, and never cease to amaze me with their passion, dedication and excellence in their work. In countless instances they have not only risen to the challenge, but also exceeded our expectations. Many individuals on our team have joined us at the start of their careers, and it makes me extremely proud to see how far they have come in such a short amount of time.
Daniel: We take this philosophy of doing right by who we work with really seriously and this extends to the companies we partner with outside of Weavve. In 2021, we started working with distribution partners like furniture shops and interior design firms, but also with product partners who sold great products under their own brands. Ryan, myself and the team were really enthused by how open, collaborative and innovative these companies were; Singaporean companies, coming together during a pandemic with an optimistic view on the future and a resilient DNA to tide through tough times.
Looking back now, what would you have done differently?
Ryan: Trusting our intuition more. We perhaps over-engineered the market research process at the beginning when deciding what material to launch with. Most of the feedback we got pointed to launching cotton sheets, but when people actually physically saw and touched the sheets, quite a number told us they’d choose Tencel Lyocell any day. The reaction was strongest amongst some who have never used it before and were lifelong cotton users. I myself am a Tencel Lyocell fan, and I’m really happy we could work to launch our Lyocell range quickly thereafter.
Daniel: Not sweating the small stuff, especially at the beginning. Weavve is kind of like a child to Ryan and me – and we wanted the best for Weavve from the get-go. We fretted over every part of the customer experience, design element, and every specification of the product. Most of these paid off, but over time we’ve learnt to cover the important stuff and let some of the unknowns stay as unknowns. In a fast moving digital world and as a small company, we’ve learnt to strike a balance to ensure we make great decisions with a good amount of speed.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to improve their sleep?
Ryan: I would say to understand themselves as a sleeper first, and identify if there are aspects for improvement or impediments. I am myself a very light sleeper, hence I tend to minimise or eliminate the amount of light and possible sound disturbances in my room. I also find bedtime routines to help me mentally disconnect from the high paced thoughts of the workday and allow me to transition into a headspace that is more conducive to sleep and rest. It can be as simple as brewing a chamomile tea or reading.
Daniel: I agree that there is no one-size-fits-all formula. I for one don’t fall asleep easily, and might wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning and can’t fall back to sleep. The thing that works best for me is to exercise early in the day, or at the latest before dinner. I like taking walks – my favourite routes include the Southern Ridges, Punggol Waterway and Pulau Ubin. Walks help me feel physically tired at night as I am winding down, but the greenery of these routes also helps my mind relax – contributing to a less busy mind come bedtime.
Hit us with some underrated sleep tips.
Ryan: Set yourself up for a good sleep in a holistic way. We can consider the five senses and how we can create a good environment for each of them. This translates to a dark or low light environment for sight, a quiet room or white noise for sound, for smell a calming scent like lavender. Adding on to that, maybe avoiding acidic or spicy foods before bedtime, and lastly for tactile touch of course ensuring that the sheets are soft and smooth, and the body is kept at a comfortable temperature. Weavve sheets really help with that!
Daniel: Understanding your own daily rhythm and working with it really helps improve sleep. For example, I don’t need so much sleep but for the hours I get, it is important I sleep really deeply. I’m also much more productive in the early morning, so I try to get to bed by a certain time. For me, it’s really important to have a pillow that helps you sleep comfortably, and if you need, a good bolster. Pillow heights and shapes and materials are very personal (some people sleep with two pillows!). Figure out what works for you and invest in a good one. One of Weavve’s products that has changed my life the most is our weighted blanket – it helps me fall asleep faster and more deeply.
Can you share with us some interesting statistics about Singaporeans sleeping patterns and/or preferences?
Ryan: Singapore takes first place as the most fatigued country in the world, according to an article published on CNA. We are constantly plugged in to both work and our social life, and a digital device is always at arm’s length. It is no wonder that many find it hard to shut down and get quality sleep.
Daniel: A big driver of this fatigue is that we’re not a good nation of sleepers (fourth worst in the world in 2021), and Covid-19 has worsened that. Six out of 10 Singaporeans shared that they are not sleeping well because of the pandemic. This year, Singaporeans are averaging only 6.8 hours of sleep versus seven in 2020. This is against the seven to nine hours of sleep we need, according to the National Sleep Foundation!
How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful?
Ryan: For me, success is about happiness and fulfillment. I try to eschew the conventional definitions and markers for success, because I believe we should all define success for ourselves. Personally, success is being able to build something meaningful for myself and others, and in that process grow as a person. It is also about enjoying the journey, waking up every day and looking forward to working with a great team, being excited and inspired and seeing our ideas come to fruition.
Daniel: There’s a chinese proverb, “一山还比一山高”. Loosely translated, it says that there is always a mountain higher than a particular mountain, or someone better than you. There is a never-ending cycle of comparing. I prefer to ask myself this question: Did what I do fulfill a purpose or serve someone today? Time flies. If we don’t stay in the moment, we might miss opportunities to support others, to do things that fulfill our purpose, or to be kind and uplifting to ourselves. Success to me is to look back on each day and see that I have taken these opportunities to make someone else’s day or my own day better.
What’s next for your brand?
Ryan: We’ve just launched our first range of printed sheets with Scene Shang, applying their award-winning “Love is a Warm Brew” and “Jade Blossoms” on our Tencel Lyocell sheets in a limited run. The sheets look amazing and the partnership has been great so far, building on a collaborative and innovative spirit, and our common love of great home products and stories built around heritage.
Daniel: We’ve launched our bed and bath Christmas gift sets. We’ve put together what we think are great bundles partnering with other Singaporean companies and will be selling these online but also with our retail partners. We’re looking forward to various types of partnerships in 2022, and are really excited to see what kind of products or ideas we can develop with other Singapore companies.
(All images: Weavve)