#200 – Executing On An Idea With Sierra Wallizer

Thomas Green here with ethical marketing service on the episode today we have Sierra Wallizer. Sierra, welcome. Hi, good to be here. Thank you. It is good to have you, would you like to take a moment and tell the audience a bit about yourself and what you do. Sure, I’d love to. So my name is, Sierra Wallizer I live in new york city and I created a bedsheet that never comes untapped and it’s called kite linens and very excited to share more about this. Very unique, Uniquely designed sheet, one of a kind, Well, I had a look at some of the videos online about the, about your creation as it were. And it struck me as one of those things which is like why has nobody done that before. Kind of like thank you for saying you know those those great inventions that you think, wow, you know that is that is such an improvement and yet quite a simple, simple idea would you say or is it more complex? No, it’s exactly that, it’s very simple and I always say like this is not revolutionary, it is just a degree better than what bed sheets were before.

And so many of the inventions today are exactly that and it makes you look at it and go why why didn’t I think of that? Right, It’s not super hard. There there have definitely been attempts to make a design that keeps your sheets on the mattress because I think everyone struggles with this. Uh and you don’t really think of it as like a problem that ruins your day, but gosh, if it were solved, why not, why not have one less thing to worry about in your day, which is you know, digging the sheets out from the bottom of your bed and having to re tuck it all around the perimeter of the mattress. So yeah, it’s a pretty simple design. Well well done on solving the problem because that’s what it’s all about, right? I would like to get into your back story, but and this may cover it, but why is it that you solve this problem as opposed to all of the other ones that exist? This problem was a personal problem. And I think some of the best ideas come from solving your own personal problem first.

And that problem is because my exists because my husband always untucked the sheets while he’s sleeping. And I joke that I told him, I said if this doesn’t stop, we’re getting a divorce because I can’t stand having to remake this bed as much as hard as it is every day. I can’t stand doing it. So I created the sheet for myself and I took my own sheets in my apartment from my closet linen closet and started drawing out the design and then cutting and stapling these sheets together because I can’t. So uh and so finally I took that to my own seamstress actually here in new york and asked her if she could so it together more properly and she did, we slept with it that night and it worked. And so it just gave me this thought. Other people must struggle with this too. I can’t be the only one that has, you know, either myself or their husband or partner ripping the sheets out at night while they’re sleeping.

So let’s give it a go and see if see if we can make this a thing. It sounds so much like a shark tank pitch. Did you did you consider that at any point? Believe it or not. Shark tank called me. And yes, they found an article that I was posted about kite linens and called me and uh, did invite me to apply for the show. Um This is still in the works by the way, so I can’t overshare, but the hope is that I definitely get on that show. Yes, 100%. So I’ll let you know if it happened. I’d love to know. Yeah, because I, I do enjoy the show and you watch, oh, I’m obsessed. I’ve been practicing my pitch in my sleep like every night, also very nervous if it happens. Amazing. So, um, why is it that? Um, let’s say because plenty of people have had this problem And no one has done what you have done in terms of providing the solution for it. Why is that the case?

Well, again, there have been attempts and I know this because I decided to get a patent for this design. We’re still patent pending. It takes a couple of years, but going through that process, you know, you, you do your due diligence and and look to see if there are other designs out there. So you’re not infringing upon anyone else’s uh, already existing patents. But along the way, you just discover a brand that maybe didn’t try for a patent and are either trying to sell their product today or have done in the past, but nothing too too successful seems to be out there. Um, I could name maybe a couple a couple of brands, you know, just on on one hand, but even those don’t have a design that is still as simple as kite linens design. And so I think that’s key because Mhm. Again, we’re trying to make something easier and I don’t need a solution that is a little more difficult to use to make my life easier.

So Kaitlyn’s design makes it very easy to put the sheet on the bed. It makes it very easy to sleep, you know, multiple nights without having to re tuck that sheet. Uh And inadvertently it helps keep the fitted sheet on the mattress as well because we also struggle with our fitted sheets flipping off of the mattress. Um It’s also designed to not only stay on the bed but allow you to sleep however you want. And what I mean by that is you never feel constricted. A lot of times people will ask me when they hear a sheet that never comes untucked, I would hate to be tucked in and trapped in my in my bed. I need to sleep with my feet out or my legs out. And side note this is an issue that we’re dealing with from a marketing standpoint. So we’re still working on the messaging because it’s not resonating entirely with everyone, but it’s quite the opposite. So the sheet never comes untucked, but it’s designed with these dual side slits that allow you to slip your feet or your legs out for temperature control or simply because you just don’t like the feeling of your feet being trapped.

Usually if you don’t have a kite linens, sheets on your bed, you’re kicking the sheet out from under the mattress to get those feet out, right? So again, It’s one plane of material that has the slits on the side and the pocket that fits around the bed end of the bed is made with so much space and room that your feet are never too constrained to the bed under the sheets. So I meant more from thank you for the answer. More from your personal perspective, what is it that you think is different about you that made you come up with this solution about me personally. Well, I think my story starts when I was a little girl and I am originally from west Virginia, which is a southern state. Um I always wanted to go to New york city as a little girl because of my first trip here when I was eight years old.

I I was just in awe by everything that was going on in the city. And it was at that time I told my mom on this trip that I wanted to be a businesswoman with a briefcase in New york city specifically for the briefcase and I kid you not the minute I turned 18 years old when I was legally an adult, I came to New York City Saving $1500 at the time, working three jobs in high school to get here and I had odd jobs in the city and made it for a summer before I went to college. And then throughout college I continued to work and save money and I would come up to new york city, which is about six hours away from west Virginia. Ah and I would take a nice long bus ride to get to new york in between semesters, I would live here again, work odd jobs, hostess, waitress, you name it, leading into eventually an internship that was paid, which then eventually led into job offers in new york city.

And I share this story because I am that person that would I have a plan and a goal. I’m going to go for it and nothing will stop me and I’m gonna have a lot of fun along the way. And I think when I came up with this idea for kite linens and decided, yes, I’m going to try to make this something that drive and that grit is still inside of me and I’m not giving up, right, I’m gonna keep going. And the best part about this for me and what I love so much about this experience is learning how to do it as I go, because I am not an expert in any of this, right? I’ve, I’ve worked in advertising and marketing and then in software sales for the past, You know, 15 years, so I don’t know how to bring a brand to market. Um So I’m learning as I go and I’m having so much fun as I do that and I think that’s what sets me apart from a lot of people is I am determined which a lot of people are, but I want to really enjoy it and have fun as I go because at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work out, I have no regrets.

I have learned so much bringing this product to life, everything from the design of the product and manufacturing to the marketing, to the, you know, financial aspects of all of this and budgeting. I think that’s just the most valuable part of it. And yeah, I’m gonna keep going until until I can’t, which I don’t know why that would be, but hold me to it. Well the about the marketing experience, I think I have a quote which says that if you’re, if you’re good at marketing, you can be in any business because you can essentially get the sales for that business and therefore you’re in business, Right? So has your experience helped you there? You know, the majority of my experience is actually in software sales, but it still sails and I would say it’s definitely helped me um everything from just understanding generally how a business operates to working in a very fast paced environment uh to working with very, you know, inspirational people and learning what to do and what not to do based on Yeah, some of those people, uh yes, it’s, it’s helped me a ton and I think being in sales, No, that’s, that’s the whole thing.

You just said it, you you have to be able to talk to people, you have to be able to um I hate to use the word convinced, but just sounds dirty, but yeah, you have to convince them that this is something they need or something they’re missing out on if they don’t have it. And I think being very personable and again, having fun, people are going to enjoy your company as much as they are your product coming back to um when you said that you wanted to be a businesswoman with a briefcase, what age was that again? That was eight. Okay. Do you think that you had any inspirations or mentors that inspired you to have that way of thinking? My mom would kill me if I said if I didn’t say her name? Um but I, I truly think I was just born with this like desire and drive honestly, because at eight years old, I couldn’t tell you a single person that was, you know, pushing me to move to new york city or have that desire even that thought. And funny enough, majority, well, I don’t have a single friend in new york city who is from where I’m from and so everyone that I know from back home says something along the lines of, oh my gosh, I could never live there, How do you do it?

It’s not for me, oh it’s too big and it’s just like, I don’t share that same perspective and I never have um but that’s not to say I don’t love my home, right? I’m also like the biggest supporter of west Virginia because we get a bad rap and I and I hate that for for our hometown and my family still lives there and I love going home to visit. But yeah, I think I was just kind of born with this dr always wanting to go, I mean that continues on to what I was 13 years old and I figured out how to sign myself up myself up for a leadership camp that was like eight hours away from my hometown and I got as far as needing to put the credit card information in before I had to go get my mom and say could you, could you help me pay for this? And she’s saying, what did you sign up for? You know? Um and it was a leadership gap, like it’s a perfect, perfect example and then you know when I was in college I signed myself up to move to Hong kong and I lived there for six months and there’s just something inside of me that always wanted to do more and I keep going for that keep reaching.

So you say that you are a driven individual. Is that fair? I think so, yeah, I think so. So coming back to you before you started business. So you’re, you’ve solved this problem in a way, but it’s for yourself. Um, and the thought process around what next? So do you mind sharing with us what your thoughts are around that time frame? Yeah, absolutely. So funny enough and I’ve never shared this part of the story, but I think it’s interesting when I came up with the ideas of white linens, I was actually trying to invent or design, I should say men’s shirts random. I know, but the idea for that was because yeah, my husband is someone who always says I have nothing to wear. And it’s just a joke in our house because he truly doesn’t have anything to wear and clean his closet and they never go shopping. But he was getting dressed one day and he says, I have nothing to wear.

And I’m like, oh my gosh, let me look, I’m looking in his closet. I’m like, wow, you truly don’t have anything and everything that you do have looks the same. And it made me realize men don’t have a ton of options as it when it comes to designs of their shirts, you either have, you know, in a button down stripes, plain plaid, sometimes a little wacky design, but it’s not a ton and women have so many options. So I had this idea for a very niche like tech technology focused design. I know that sounds really crazy. Probably not a smart idea, it’s probably good. I ended up in the sheep business but anyways I was designing this and through that process um I solved the bed problem for myself and in a conversation I was having with with someone so then the and the um retail business I said yeah maybe I came up with my second idea here. I invented a sheet last night that doesn’t come off the bed and she looked at me and she said I think you just invented your your first business and it just made me pause and I thought about it and I said you know what this might be a lower barrier to entry right?

There’s not too many different sheep designs out there but there is a heck of a ton of clothing. And so it was in this conversation that I sort of pivoted and started focusing more on the sheet and I I didn’t know what I needed to do after I got the prototype made except for finding a manufacturer. I didn’t know how to do that. So I started Googling and making phone calls to you know china Pakistan turkey Portugal all over the, all over the world, definitely in the U. S. To I actually really wanted to produce in the US but unfortunately couldn’t afford it at the time. And so I signed myself up naturally because that’s what I do for a conference in las Vegas and it was a sourcing show where all of these manufacturers and brands go to meet each other. And I said, okay, I’m going I’m this brand. I didn’t even have a name at the time.

I think I called it free sheet three sheet with the villain name before Kite Linens and started meeting all these manufacturers and was introduced to a manufacturer in Portugal and gave them a phone call. Well after I had called multiple multiple manufacturers and all told me no, no because of the unique design. But Portugal was open to experimenting with me and ultimately we landed working with them and we still do today. Um, but it was a little tough during Covid. I mean, this all happened, the show in Las Vegas happened right before Covid. Uh, and then I, you know, again didn’t want to stop just because we were now locked in. It actually gave me a chance to work on the sheet even more because I had no plans in the evening. Right? Um, I work a full time job still in in software sales and um, do that to self fund this entire project.

But then I would focus on the shoot at night and it would give me a lot of time to perfect it. Um, and I think I answered your question, but many manufacturers, do you, did you speak to? Do you reckon I at least 10 directly. There were a lot of email exchanges as well. Um, but I sort of just did last email blast phone call conversation. It wasn’t easy because I’m trying to describe this design without them seeing anything. And I was also nervous to share this design without having any sort of protection. Uh, in terms of a patent or N. D. A. Um, yeah, about 10 verbally and a ton more via email. Um, and yeah, a lot of, a lot said no because their machinery just couldn’t produce the design. You know, they can’t spit them out like they do every day.

And we’re having any thoughts at that time around, you know, maybe this can’t be done or were you just, I’m going to persevere until, oh, I had the thoughts, I still have those thoughts. I wake up and I’m like, I didn’t get a sale today. What happened? Oh gosh, this is never going to work, you know? And um, I think it’s that imposter syndrome that everyone feels, but I persevered of course because I think that’s, that’s just how I am. That’s how my, I’m wired to operate. And yeah, I felt really good when I got the, yes, but trust me every day, I wake up thinking, are they gonna drop me as a customer? These are the fears that we all have and I’m not afraid to share that because I think everyone does think that and they just don’t talk about. Yeah, Yeah. The buzzword at the moment, of course is having the right why? So, would you say you have a why? Um that’s driving you forward in this particular context? Why? Why am I continuing to do this? Why why do you want to make a success of it?

Yeah, I do have an answer for that. So my happiness is truly when my family is the happiest and they know this and I have this grand plan in my head that um I’ll be able to, you know, buy them all this compound and we’ll live happily ever after and you know, a beach house here and there and take care of their my niece and nephews college and this is not, not a lie, I’ve always been this way and and have always tried to um just help my family when and however possible and you know, buying a home for my grandmother that’s never had her own home and there’s just so many things that we grew up, I think without that I would really, truly love to provide to my family and so that’s my why I I want more for everyone that I love and you know, I’ll obviously be in the mix of that too, and that will make me happy, but the happiest is when they’re they’re the happiest.

Um not that they even need things, I just, I just want that for them. So, kite linens is the vehicle to essentially looking after your family. I think so yeah, I hope so. Well I’m not surprised you you persevered then in that in that case, but you did touch on something which I think is a very interesting topic and I know you’ve spoken about it before but I think it’s worth touching on and that is the concept of starting a business during a pandemic. Um Would you share, I don’t know what your thoughts on that concept because many people went out of business that’s for sure and I think also many people would never have started a business just for that reason. Your thoughts absolutely. I think it you can be is very sensitive but in fact it was during that time that my own family has some in my family suffered from also losing their job during the pandemic.

And no, I immediately went into that attack mode of okay well how what can I do to help? I still have a job right, I I I can help you. Um And so many plans were going into place to see how I could you know support them alright linens. You know that was even more of a drive at the time to say like okay well then I have this full time job, I’m gonna do this, let’s see if we can you know make it happen. Um I even created separately from this during the pandemic, a Children’s app. It was a game that you could play indoors ah called pirate parker and it was a scavenger hunt for kids to you know leave their parents alone for a couple of minutes and go have some safe fun in the house and it was like a dollar to play and in my head I’m going okay, how many million people are in the United States? Okay if half of those have kids and that’s a dollar and then that’s how you know X. Million dollars. Okay, this is perfect that one didn’t work out too well but I didn’t, I did invent and create it and launch it and a couple of kids played.

But anyways all to share. Again, there’s always this plan right to help and i it’s again sensitive to the fact that a lot of people did lose their job during the pandemic. My family being part of that. And there was not this thought of, let me you know convince people to buy bed sheets, the why do you need a bed sheet while you’re in the minimum pandemic? You you don’t but there were also a ton of people that we’re buying everything HomeGoods right because now we’re locked in our homes. So there was an opportunity for both for me to both have an audience of people that wanted to fill their homes with things while stuck there and also I am stuck in my home and I have all this additional time that I usually don’t have because we, you know our social people and we do things after our day job. So I’m going to take advantage of my free time now and focus everything I have on this business because again, I have to learn it as I’m going right.

Um so yeah, it was a mix of, I feel for everyone that’s going through that because it’s personally happening in my world and at the same time let me think of something that can maybe help that and at the same time it’s the only point in my life so far that I have an abundance of free time to learn something new. So this is the time that I’m going to take to to do that. Um I would also add that it gave me an opportunity to make mistakes that I could afford to make. And what I mean by that is first design was not perfect. In fact it had a defect and it ripped and I had to recall a lot of the products and refund a lot of the purchases and apologize and that’s normal. Right? I mean we all make mistakes and bye. I could handle that because I had that time and I sort of soft launched right?

I wasn’t like massively out there yet. And um yeah, I think there were advantages to starting during a pandemic. Um but I’m also aware of how tough it was for a lot of people based on the ideas that you’ve had, like the Children’s app and um you know, your first idea with the shirt, let’s say, um Kaitlyn’s, it becomes a big business and you’re the ceo are you going to be happy or satisfied in that one business or are you going to want to go into different ones? It’s another way of asking, are you a business owner or are you an entrepreneur? Yeah, that is a great question. I think I’m an entrepreneur honestly, because my, my plan for quite linens and I’m not afraid to share this is almost to like get rid of it as fast as possible so I can do another thing and when I say get rid of it, hopefully, you know, we’re doing a huge collaboration with another brand or I am selling the license from the patent to some big distributor, it doesn’t matter.

Um I, I wanted to be successful obviously because we know why that success matters, but I also have other ideas, so I want to try to bring them to life and I think having gone through this now with white linens, that was my first, you know, stop at learning how to do it all and I’ll be even better the next time because I’ve made majority of the mistakes now and I can go into the next idea, having a baseline understanding of how to do a lot of these things. So you know, I’m excited to master those skills again. Well that’s um, that’s one for shark tank, isn’t it? If you’re open to a licensing deal, there’s gonna be some people interested in that. I’m not going to ask you who it is, but do you have a favorite shark? Yes, I do. Yes. I won’t answer that on youtube or television or wherever we are in terms of what’s next for you and what are your goals? Well, in 2022 we are launching new colors and new sizes.

This is a huge goal of mine, although it may not sound like the like that to the audience, but this is huge because we’ve been asked for more sizes and colors since the, since the launch. And so that is coming in about a month. We have the final um, production date set and now we just need to rely on the ships to get our sheets here from Portugal. And then uh, we also have some other products that we are toying with launching, we’re still in the middle of making those, um, one of them I’ll share is a blanket that doesn’t come untucked because if you sleep with your sheets, your kite linen sheets and you tend to sleep with a blanket on top of those before your duty or your comforter. Well that blanket still comes untucked because it doesn’t have the unique design. So we want to add that to the mix. I have a pipe dream here, That jennifer Gardner who we all know and love. She’s actually from west Virginia as well. I want her to be kite linens brand ambassador and I’m saying this on your podcast.

So hopefully it goes viral and everyone shares it out and it ends up in jennifer’s inbox somewhere and she calls me back and we can have a great partnership. But I think she is the epitome of What Kaitlyn ins, you know, brand stands for and we would just love, we love to work with her on this. So that is the big, big goal. I don’t know if that will happen in 2022 though. What’s that? That website that allows you to send messages to celebrities? I forget what it is. The video. Have you checked his cameo or not? She’s not on camera in there. I’m looking everywhere. If anyone knows how to get in touch, let me know someone in the internet will know. Is there anything that I should have asked you about today? Oh man, I think it was a great discussion. Um, where to find us. Sounds like a good question. If people want to get in touch with you connect or buy a sheet. Where do they go? Yes. So we are direct to consumer just from our website right now.

Uh and that website is www dot kite linens dot com. You can also find us on social following us on instagram and facebook at kite linens. I am toying with Tiktok right now, which I didn’t, I don’t know if I’d advise you to go follow me, but I think I would love more followers, but I’m trying to get creative out there. Is it working? Go ahead and take a look and have some last over lunch. Today. Sounds good. And I’ll mention you if any, any of these go out on Tiktok, but do you have any closing thoughts for us? I think, you know, depending, depending on who’s watching, if if you have an idea, um, you know the difference between somebody having an idea and a business is really just putting all of that thought and effort into making that idea come to life. So don’t stop yourself by just telling yourself. Well, I don’t know how to do that. I didn’t know how to do that either. And the first step is always just doing something and that something could be Googling, right?

I didn’t know how to find a manufacturer. So I just started googling and then I came across the sourcing show in Vegas while googling and then that led me ultimately to the manufacturer. Right? So do something, don’t just stop yourself because you’ve not done it before. Um, I don’t know anyone who’s born knowing how to do everything. So that’s my advice. A lot of people stop themselves simply because they haven’t done it before. Don’t do that. That’s a great message to end on. So for everyone listening or watching, please review the links in the description and Sierra, congratulations on solving a problem for people and also for being a great guest. Thank you so much Thomas. It was great to be here.