Today we’d like to introduce you to Merrimac Dillon.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Merrimac. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
Ten years ago, my husband had emergency back surgery, and I was thrown into the world of Chiropractors and Neurosurgeons. In fact, the Neurosurgeon prepared me by saying, “I will do my best to keep him walking”… I was terrified. But after nine hours of surgery, the talented doctor emerged and said, “He will walk, but you will have to do everything in your power to help him stay healthy and fit.
Several days later, armed with a pad and pen, I sat down with the surgeon and his team and asked them for suggestions; What was the best mattress? the best shoes? the best pillow? I needed to know if I was to do everything I could to keep him walking. Well, they had lots of detailed direction for everything, but when it came to the pillow… they said collectively, “there isn’t one we can recommend.” I was shocked and perplexed as how could this possibly be difficult.
I took it as a challenge and began buying pillows at an alarming pace. I bought every kind I could find… then proceeded to take them into the garage and cut them open to see what was inside. You can’t imagine my surprise when I found ground latex, chunks of polyurethane, feathers –some even had filthy beaks and toes! Horrified is an understatement.
When I knew I didn’t want anything that I could find to purchase, I asked the Neurosurgeon to help me create the finest, cleanest pillows that could also work to keep my husbands’ head in line with his spine. I really wanted to create “Luxury with a Purpose.” Days led to months, and we kept at it. Nearly a year later, we had the recipes for pillows to match each person’s sleep style (front, back, side)as well as their shoulder size. It was obvious from our time in the sleep clinic that there is definitely NOT a one size fits all pillow!
After we had the parameters for the perfect match pillows, I set off to meet US manufacturers to see if they would work with me to make pillows. Not only did they laugh AT me, they scoffed at my idea saying “a pillow is a pillow, we’ve been making them for years this way”…
That is the moment that I thought –why can’t I build my own pillow making a machine that uses only the finest ingredients? And a pillow that fits each person just like shoes –one size does not fit all and shoulder size definitely matters. I headed to the garage with a mission. No, I’m not an engineer, but never underestimate the perseverance of a middle-aged woman on a mission who has her own power tools!
I taped, I glued, I visited the hardware store several times a day, I electrocuted myself more than once, but eight months later, I had a working prototype, and The Pillow Bar was born. Two patents, seven trademarks and a lot of test marketing and we were ready to be in pillow making business!
In those early days, our clientele taught us a lot. For instance, first-time buyers came back to buy a second pillow because their partner had stolen the first. One enterprising client asked if we could embroider their name on his protector to stake his claim, so to speak. That was such a great idea we began embroidering the protectors for everyone and included it for free.
It was other creative clients who asked for personal messages, song lyrics, and even Bible verses. Another wonderful twist that creates luxury with a purpose. Never before have pillows been so very personal! “When it comes to pillows, The Pillow Bar is the Rolls Royce of pillows.” – Gifts and Decorative Accessories Magazine
We heard all sorts of stories and problems from our clients while hand-making their pillows. We passed along many of the things we had learned, and one seemed to help more than others. Creating “sleep triggers” often helps to initiate the habit of good sleep – a learned behavior. If we associate a certain sound or smell with a regular routine before bed, it helps the body create a habitual reaction. In fact, certain aromas can induce natural feelings in people.
For instance, lavender has long been associated with relaxation (see the research), so we decided to include a sachet of lavender inside the protector. Of course, we went through many suppliers looking for the most aromatic and longest lasting lavender… and when we couldn’t find it stateside, we imported our own from France and enlisted a local cottage industry to make our own sachets, of course. And we include yet another little luxury with a purpose.
And so, after long months of labor and the frequent happenstance of fate we… found the cleanest and finest down available on the planet, created a way to fill our custom protector to perfectly match the client’s personal desire for firmness matched to their sleep style, covered the pillow in the finest natural cotton, made it special with custom embroidery of the client’s name, included the most aromatic lavender in the world and then wrapped it beautifully for giving.
That is how The Pillow Bar was born to create the best down pillow you can find. And now we have expanded into down alternatives, travel pillows, and other bedding luxuries to make your nights filled with only Sweet Dreams.
The next time you can’t sleep and spend your night’s tossing and turning, decide to make your nights more restful and rejuvenating. Our hand-made custom pillow will make all the difference. Treat yourself, and a loved one. No one buys just one. No one.
We always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I think any entrepreneur would say their ‘enthusiasm’ gets them through the bumps and challenges along the way. We faced a lot of roadblocks and naysayers, as we were striving to create a new way to approach a well-established item. Never before could anyone buy/order a ‘custom’ sleeping pillow made to match their unique sleep style and shoulder size.
Many were negative and said ‘why would anyone want that’? Others, though skeptical, encouraged us because they themselves suffered with neck and shoulder pain and attributed it to a bad pillow. We tested, we, and we continued on in pursuit of the dream -despite the challenges.
We spent hours in the garage building the Pillow Bar machine. So many asked me –“what makes you think you can do that? You aren’t an engineer”! Those people are the ones that kept me tinkering day and night to make our Pillow Bar machine work. So I thank them every day!
When we went into our first retail store to test the machine… it was a huge and comical event! When the store turned on the air conditioning, it sucked all the down out of our machine into the air and ALL over the store. Yikes! And back to the garage, we went… that is after vacuuming down fill from the store walls, floor, and shelves for HOURS! It is very funny in retrospect, but at the time it was really stressful.
We really should have kept a journal as we laugh about so so many occasions that could have driven us to give up —it really has been an incredible and interesting journey.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into The Pillow Bar story. Tell us more about the business.
We are truly unique in what we do. NO other company makes custom made sleeping pillows to match each person’s unique sleep style and shoulder size. We are also known for our many unique shapes, sizes, and products. We have expanded our line into travel pillows, bedding, night clothes, and even dog beds. We make as much as possible in Texas and have been successful in making ALL of our pillows and accessories right here in Dallas.
This year we were on Oprah’s Christmas List for our unique Jetsetter MINI travel pillows. We have been recognized by The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, O Magazine, the Today Show and many others for our unique and useful products. Our products are truly ‘Luxury with a Purpose” that Inspire Your Dreams.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I am a great believer in timing and luck. I have been several times at the right place at the right time and had the ‘right’ people walk through the door to help me.
I feel incredibly fortunate and grateful that luck has indeed shined upon us.
- Address: 110 Howell Street Dallas, TX 75207
- Website: www.thepillowbar.com
- Phone: 214-939-3696
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @thepillowbar
- Facebook: facebook/thepillowbar