In February 2018, I got a text from my mom.
She found a picture of me with my grandfather from 1992. A photo I had never seen.
It was emotional because:
He passed in 1999, so I hadn’t seen a new picture of him in almost 2 decades
My 30th birthday was around the corner (like, days away) and it felt like a little gift from him –– all these years later
It also meant a lot because my grandfather is the reason why I, personally, have almost anything that I do.
I grew up comfortably – thanks to him
I went to a great college – thanks to him
I was able to start as a lowly intern in New York City out of college (making no money!) – thanks to him
Those aren't opportunities everyone gets
And it's all because more than 60 years ago, my grandfather came across an old, broken down manufacturing machine on an old back road in the Southern United States.
He put it in his pickup truck, fixed it up and started a business that today is 3 generations old.
That business gave my mom, my aunts, my cousins, my dad and my brother jobs. It also gave jobs to the community, an additional 40 employees – half of whom have been there since the days my grandfather still ran it.
I say all of this because in the day-to-day work of growing our businesses, optimizing for conversion, bettering our return on ad spend ––it can be so easy to forget the why behind what we do.
My grandfather never forgot it.
In the family house he built in 1974, the one I grew up in and in which my mother still lives, he hung a plaque that remains there today.
It's a picture of the home he grew up in with his 7 brothers and sisters during the depression.
He was the kind of man who grew up in the Great Depression and never lost those habits.
He still ate pigs feet.
He loved orange peels.
He served you water in the tiniest glasses as to not waste a single drop (if you wanted more, you could get it – you have legs!).
He was also the kind of man who wanted to give his family more than he had:
He knew where he came from – and where he wanted to go. He knew his why.
For me, he is my why.
I launched Doris Sleep, named after my grandmother and the love of my grandfather’s life, to bring their spirit in to this entrepreneurial venture, to try and accomplish something like he did – a lasting legacy for my future generations.
And while you, the customer, may only see the good days, I know full and well growing up in a family of entrepreneurs that there are plenty of hard days.
Like the year a natural disaster ruined all of my grandfather's inventory.
Or the very first job I ever had back in high school – working in the manufacturing plant in the dog days of summer (there is no AC). It was minimum wage. I had to clock in and clock out – for lunch, for bathroom breaks, for equality among all employees in the plant.
And when I complained, as any teenage girl might, I was told strictly this:
“You think you’re better than this? You think this isn’t what gives you everything you have?”
My grandfather was long passed by then, but I imagine those would be the same words he’d tell me.
- That we’ve all gotten much too comfortable.
- That hard work is much too often undervalued and pushed aside.
- That way too many of us have forgotten where we come from – and why that matters.
So, in 2018, my 30th year, the year I got that text with that picture that I had never seen from my mother – a gift of sorts from my long passed grandfather, I started Doris Sleep to bring you the pillows and the business stamina inspired by the greatest businessman I once knew.
The pillows I've sourced have been perfected over the decades, with fill quality checks and weight additions to cater to the market. And I've worked hard to make sure that every single fiber in there is manufactured and sourced in the US, and from recycled – not virgin – plastics.
That's important, because these pillows give local economies the jobs they need to help families just like mine, and just like yours, make a good living, put food on the table and ultimately, raise children who’s teenage ignorance turns into adult appreciation for every single minute of the luxury life they’ve been given.
You don’t have to be from a big city. There was a goat farm in the middle of my hometown.
You don’t have to go to a fancy school. I’m proud of my public school and state college education.
But if you have a room to call your own and a legacy to keep alive –– one that put plenty of food on the table, shelter over your head and family in every possible direction –– then you, too, are part of the Doris story.
Your purchase of these pillows helps to continue my grandfather’s mindset, the one he left alive in his granddaughter: What you buy matters. Who you buy it from does, too.
Thanks for taking that personal walk down memory lane with me.
I hope it reminded you of your why… and that you hug them all a little tighter tonight.
Feel free to reach out, let me know where you're struggling, how I might be able to help...You have my email.