Bedding startup spreading business
Ruby Russell and Louie Scheel have been diligently trying to get their Sparks startup company, Stayput Beddings, off the ground.
They received a patent for their concept on July 5.
Getting to that point has been a painstaking process with a few victories along the way.
Russell, 65, and her partner Scheel, 87, met after connecting on the dating site, Match.com, and quickly fell in love. They’re relationship had one snag though: Scheel’s sleeping habits frequently led to the couple’s bed sheet’s waded up in the morning, leaving Russell often with the task to remake the bed.
One morning, Russell came up with a solution to the problem. She sewed extra fabric to the base of her own sheets that could tuck under the mattress to keep the sheets in place. They called it a ‘Louie Scheel Original.’
Russell and Scheel immediately saw it as a business venture, and wanted to patent the idea. A previous story in the Sept. 21, 2015 edition of NNBW detailed their story:
Getting started has proved to be a learning experience for the couple, such as the level of competition.
“I’m surprised in our research how many lines of bedding there are,” Russell said.
The last known patent on bed sheets was awarded in 1959, until Russell’s patent on her idea dated July 5.
Although the process of getting a patent can be long and arduous, the U.S. Patent Office prioritized Russell and Scheel because of their age.
They also were awarded a trademark for their name, Stayput Beddings. There is another company located in Australia named Stayput Bedding (no “s”) that sells children’s bedding, but that company apparently didn’t apply for trademark.
The Australian company’s founder and owner Katrina Calder have contacted Russell and Scheel to disputing the use of the same name. However, while Russell said she is respectful of Calder’s stance, she insists Calder should have trademarked the name herself. Plus, she contends there’s a lot of similar business names all over the world, and the product lines are different.
“I told her she should’ve trademarked the name,” Russell said.
Russell and Scheel have hired a couple of marketing and Web development companies for Stayput Beddings but was left holding the bag.
One company, based in Ohio touted a myriad of services to help the couple, but never delivered on their promises. Russell and Scheel reported them to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB had already received several complaints on the company.
“They seemed to have their stuff together, but turned out to be nothing,” Russell said. “They said they would give us our money back, if we withdrew our complaint to the BBB.”
Russell and Scheel have taken on most of the marketing themselves. Russell for one, is leaving no stone unturned getting the word out about the product. They’ve developed a Web site, http://www.stayputbeddings.com, although Russell said she would like to hire a tech-savvy person to help her with the site.
She also arranged for a video piece on the series; Nevada Business Chronicles.
Russell has done some cold selling as well as frequenting local furniture or home décor stores. She plans to attend trade shows for the hospitality industry. According to Russell, some stores such as Ennis Fine Furniture Company and Cosign Furniture have expressed interest in selling the bedding. She said she received a LinkedIn invite from Ingvar Kamprad, founder of furniture store giant, IKEA, and is hoping to someday connect with him face-to-face.
Russell and Scheel are also looking for investors to give some added capital, mostly for marketing purposes. She has reached out to venture capital resources for assistance. She is confident that her product and the industry itself will be appealing to potential investors.
The operation is still being run out of Russell’s Spanish Springs home, but if things get moving that could change.
“The bed sheet industry is an $11 million industry,” Russell said. “If you add the rest of the bed it is a $32 billion industry. And our product is different than anybody out there.”
Reno’s median home price jumped to $413,405 in November, a 4 percent increase from the same month a year ago. Meanwhile, across greater Reno-Sparks, November’s median price of $400,000 remained unchanged from October.