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Tapping Resources: How two entrepreneurs made the journey from moms to business mavens

Betsy Mikesell and Angie White walked away from the Canada trade mission in September with a big win: an agreement to sell their products in the stores of the largest retailer in Canada. Co-owners of the fast-growing bedding company Beddy’s, these women embody what it means to be entrepreneurs.

Worldview_Beddy's Info SheetSolving a problem

The idea for Beddy’s was born one morning after Mikesell’s twin boys once again left for school without making their bunk beds. Frustrated, she went up to their rooms to complete the chore for them. After scraping her knuckles trying to tuck the sheets against the wall, she decided there had to be a better way.

Mikesell immediately went to Google and entered “easy way to make bunk beds” in the search bar, thinking there must be a trick or hack.  Her search was unfruitful. Unwilling to give up, she turned to another dependable source: her mom.

Together they went to the fabric store and got everything they needed to create an alternative to traditional bedding. This bedding allowed her kids to easily zip up their sheets and have a perfectly tidy bed in seconds. When Mikesell initially created the product, it was not her intent to start a business. She just wanted something that would make her mornings a little easier.

Well, good ideas do not go unnoticed. Several of Mikesell’s neighbors heard about her bedding and wanted it for their kids’ rooms. Realizing the potential her invention held, she approached her running partner Angie White, a stay-at-home mom, about starting a company with her.

Taking a chance

Mikesell and White do not have a background in business, but what they do have is an ingenious product, contagious enthusiasm and a willingness to take risks. The first step they took after deciding to start a business was to contact a patent attorney. They then worked to locate a manufacturer.

The women learned it was going to take $250,000 to get the first order of their product. They decided if they could raise $100,000 externally they could each come up with $75,000 to fund the remaining balance. Mikesell and White turned to Kickstarter as a way to raise the money and were pleasantly surprised when the project funded $108,000 in 40 days. It was go time.

In year one Beddy’s did $250,000 in sales and in year two did $1.8 million. Now in its third year, Beddy’s is heading into its busy season and has already sold $3.5 million worth of product.

Identifying resources

According to Mikesell, Utah is a great place to start a business because of the unparalleled level of support from the community. She believes Utahns like to see entrepreneurs get an idea and run with it. People have cheered her on every step of the way, whether by offering their help or sharing information about Beddy’s on their social media pages.

Mikesell also expresses satisfaction with the support provided by private and public organizations. Through connections with World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah) and the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Beddy’s founders were exposed to resources they never knew existed. One of the resources they learned about was trade missions.

Beddy’s is predominantly an online company that has customers all over the globe. About 10 percent of the company’s sales come from Canada. Even though demand is high in Canada, not everyone who wants the product is able to buy it. Mikesell and White frequently receive emails from Canadians who want the bedding, but find it difficult to afford after shipping and duties are tacked onto the price.

The business partners started to discuss the possibility of selling their bedding in physical stores in Canada to make it more accessible. There was one problem: They had no idea where to start. That is when they heard about and signed up for the trade mission to Canada.

The trade mission was the perfect opportunity to explore the Canadian market and make valuable connections along the way. During the trip Mikesell and White talked with executives from one of the largest retailers in Canada. The executives were excited about the product and agreed to sell it in their stores.

Succeeding globally

Beddy’s offers bedding in 22 designs with sizes from toddler to California king. The company has expanded beyond just home bedding. It offers products for everything from trundles to trailers.

A frustrated mom’s solution to difficult-to-make beds is now the core of a fast-growing international business. Mikesell and White never planned to start a business, but when they saw an opportunity they seized it. Their hard work is changing the way we view bedding and making mornings easier for thousands of people across the world.

Worldview-Derek-MillerDerek B. Miller is president & CEO of World Trade Center Utah, an organization dedicated to helping Utah companies think, act and succeed globally.

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