Once upon a time in a land far away (Germany), a woman who knew how to make pillows and duvets moved to the UK. Many years later (35) in a much closer place (London), her grandson quit his job in the City, rediscovered the family art, and called it Goose.
Stefan Boehm spent eight years trading Fixed Income products for UBS before resurrecting his family's pillow and duvet business, Goose. Seem like a great leap? Not so bad when you have a goose down comforter on which to land. We check in to find out more (and to place an order).
Did you always know you would eventually take this career path?
I didn't necessarily always see myself making (I hope the finest quality) duvets, but I had been thinking about business ideas for a while. Like many people, I loved to talk with friends about starting a business - one that actually made something, and made people happy. I always loved working on the trading floor and the amazing buzz that goes with it, but it was something I knew I wouldn't do for my entire career, and that I would at some point want to follow new challenges outside of the Capital Markets.
How did the decision come about to re-start the business?
I think most people tend start new ventures in areas that they know about already or have worked in directly. Unfortunately, an SSA bond fund may not quite fit the bill right now, so I made a list of quite a few ideas, and when I discussed them with people, the one that seemed to capture the most interest was relaunching the bedding business. It seems there aren't many people who don't love talking about sleep, ways to improve sleep, and things like being warm and comfortable in bed. I was also amazed by how many great ideas people had for the business, and without some great advice and help from good friends and family, I wouldn't have been able to launch it again so successfully and so quickly. In this case, when I decided to start, I couldn't name a single strong duvet brand, and I want Goose to become that brand.
We're actually surprised at how reasonable your prices are. Will this change once Jamie Dimon starts using your duvets?
Ha, yes, as soon as we get the celebrities on board the prices will sky rocket. There are a few people I'd love to get under our duvets and I'm working on it! No, really, I think one of the good things about starting from scratch is that I can try and keep some of the costs lower at the beginning. Things like locating the premises up in the Midlands near my family and then using local labour for flexible working hours have helped. I'd love to move the production to London eventually, which is where I do the sales, but this would add to costs and could perhaps affect the prices down the line. We do get a lot of the raw materials from Europe, and costs are rising, but they have to be of the highest quality, so there are certain areas where we couldn't ever cut back.
I think in these times, and for the good of future generations, the focus will increasingly be on quality, and products that are built to last. The Germans tend get a teasing sometimes in London, but blimey, they make some awesome products with this ethos.
How often do you recommend people replace their pillows and duvets?
Down/feather pillows have a certain life span, and should probably be replaced after 3-4 years. Buying pillow protectors will help and add to their life. I wouldn't recommend dry cleaning anything you sleep in or on because of the chemicals used in the process. That is why I think natural, chemical-free products like ours make sense. When it comes to duvets, they can last 15-20 years if looked after properly, and when you think about how long you spend in bed, it's a tiny investment for a lot of pleasure.
How many pillows do you sleep with?
One, but I'm a back sleeper. If you're a side sleeper, then you'll need more support. The head really does need good support and there are some big, heavy heads out there!