interviewed by MO.com Subject Matter Resource Diane Welch
For some of us–and we know who we are–menopause is a hot issue. Synonymous with the dreaded night sweats and hot flashes caused by a change in hormones, these symptoms of menopause make it tough to get a good night’s sleep. Now thanks to a line of top-rated, innovative sleepwear, women around the world will sleep easy with Cool-jams. San Diego-based entrepreneur, Anita Mahaffey, is the brainchild behind the line that includes pajamas, nightgowns and bedding and thanks to her use of moisture wicking fabric, night sweats will no longer mean sleep loss. And they are not just for women, men can also stay dry, cool and comfortable during hot, humid nights thanks to Cool-jams line of men’s pajamas.
Diane: Your use of the patented, moisture wicking fabric for sleepwear is ingenious. How did this idea first come to you?
Anita: While researching different business ideas, when I made the decision to leave the corporate world in 1987, I discovered that Turkey had grown into one of the biggest textile producers in the world. It was natural for me to think of establishing some kind of Turkish import/export business. Having spent time in Turkey as an exchange student, I understood the culture and loved the people. By collaborating with a Turkish friend, I soon began developing sleepwear programs for many of the largest US retailers and catalogs. It was while making a routine design visit to our factory in 2005, that I discovered a new micro-fiber fabric. As soon as I felt this new fabric, I knew I had a winner. The hand-feel was incredible, very silky, soft and lightweight. And a big part of my motivation was to develop a pajama to provide relief for my own menopausal related night sweats, a problem thousands of women could relate to. An independent laboratory tested and confirmed the fabric’s wicking and quick drying properties. It rapidly absorbed and evaporated moisture and dried three times as fast as cotton or poly/cotton blend. This was the start of Cool-jams.
Diane: You have a hands-on approach to your merchandise from design concept to sales and marketing, and have been manufacturing textiles for over two decades. Why choose sleepwear?
Anita: We had been in the textile business for two decades and were looking to expand our product lines. This led to the development of the wicking sleepwear for hot nights, warm climates and travel. Wicking sleepwear is great because it draws moisture away from the body to the outside of the fabric where it quickly dries. Meanwhile your body temperature stays regulated so you are never too hot or too cold when wearing Cool-jams. A huge benefit is the lightweight fabric that we use, which is quick drying, compact and wrinkle resistant. It’s perfect for the traveler.
Diane: What makes your sleepwear top-rated?
Anita: From our independent testing we have discovered that Cool-jams is the most effective wicking sleepwear currently available. It wicks the heat and moisture faster and dries quicker than any other sleepwear that we have tested. We ship to happy customers all over the world, to date to approximately 150 countries and still growing. It’s so gratifying to receive notes from our customers telling us how much they love our sleepwear and bedding products. Many also say that they will never sleep in any other PJ now that they have found Cool-jams. Plus we have a 5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, which disallows product rating unless the item has been actually purchased by the person commenting. 5 out of 5 is as top-rated as you can get!
Diane: You have been an entrepreneur for many years. What other types of the merchandise have you produced and what is the secret of your success?
Anita: Our product lines have included bath robes, towels, sportswear and of course our signature sleepwear. I believe the key to my personal success is doing what I love to do. For my company success has come from doing everything in the business a little better than our competitors. We market better, produce a top quality product, provide excellent customer service and constantly strive to create new ideas. Complacency is not an option for us. We continue to learn, to grow, to be the best that we can be.
Diane: What is some sage advice you have received in your business that you wish to pass on to others?
Anita: If you don’t have the skills required for certain tasks hire someone that does have those skills. We all have strengths and weaknesses, so it is important to find employees who bring their strengths to the table.
Diane: How important is social media in your marketing strategy, and what is your preferred application?
Anita: It is super important in this day and age. I have an employee who handles our Cool-Jams Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Accounts.
Diane: What are some of the other ways you get visibility?
Anita: Press releases, direct mail, magazine articles, newsletters, print ads in magazines, blogging, videos and affiliate marketing programs. Currently we are excited to be developing some television ads.
Diane: Do you have any new lines ready to be launched or have you met any major milestones in your current sales?
Anita: We are developing some new wicking fabrics, we just added a line of bedding and we are always adding new styles and colors each season. Every year has been a milestone for us because each year since we started our business, we have more than doubled our sales.
Diane: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Anita: Yes, absolutely. I have three important tidbits that of advice that I’d like to offer.
1) Never burn bridges…potentially everyone you meet in life is important to your future. Never discount any person you meet as you maneuver through the maze of life. The people I met when I was an 18 year old exchange student are now my business partners.
2) Always be optimistic but realistic. Entrepreneurs are optimistic, but not necessarily huge risk takers. So get experience, do research, use the tools that you learned in college to start a business in a systematic way. You will greatly improve your chance of success.
3) Be Open To New Opportunities. There are so many things that can still be discovered or done in this world. Keep your eyes and ears open for ideas and opportunities. Once you think you’ve found a great idea keep improving and learning, but never be so in love with your idea that you can’t go in a different direction if the idea or business is not what you thought it would be.
Diane: What’s the best way for people to connect with you?
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