How the Ostrichpillow became a $2.5 million a year business

You’ve seen the picture. Somebody is sitting at her desk. Or in an airline terminal. And round her head is a gigantic, grey pillow. Not behind her head, however stuffed over it. The pillow covers her ears and eyes in an upholstered LMTFA to the world round her.

That is the authentic Ostrichpillow, a $100 beanbag chair that you just put on in your head. The idea was born at the Spanish design agency Studio Banana in 2012, as the design crew was contemplating how individuals may nap at work with out a devoted nap space. When the studio posted the idea on-line, the designers imagined it could be the type of high-design object picked up for a MoMA exhibit, as had been the case with other Studio Banana work. As a substitute, it went viral.

[Photo: Ostrichpillow]

“In the starting, it was an experiment. We posted it on the web with no expectations of promoting that product,” remembers Ostrichpillow CEO Pablo Carrascal, who joins me on Zoom, donning a heather grey T-shirt that matches his product line completely. “However we obtained 1000’s of emails asking the place to purchase that product. We didn’t plan to create a model at that second, however individuals have been demanding to purchase the product.”

At this time, Ostrichpllow is a bootstrapped firm of 12, spun out of Studio Banana, that generates an estimated $2.5 million a year, and has expanded its product line to a dozen, together with gadgets from compression socks to warmth luggage. Ostrichpillow has by no means taken outdoors funding, and it has been worthwhile “since day one,” based on Carrascal. That is a story about how a seemingly whimsical, even absurd, design can dovetail with a large shopper pattern—the gargantuan self-care trade—to construct a sturdy business that outlasts any viral origins.


On reflection, the Ostrichpillow was a prescient product, and the idea of “self-care” exploded over the subsequent a number of years. Between 2014 and 2020, the self-care trade ballooned from $10 billion to $145 billion. A response to each a hyperconnected society that’s destigmatizing psychological well being and a world during which dwelling and work now not have clear boundaries, the self-care trade consists of apps that enable you to meditate and drink more water, train instruments like yoga mats and Theraguns, and a wave of soaps and cosmetics rebranded for the zeitgeist.

Trying again at Ostrichpillow’s unusual, head cocoon at present, it’s exhausting to recall simply how excessive this design felt at the time. “We tried to be a little bit radical,” says Carrascal. “We determined to take some [marketing] footage in the airport, the aircraft, the workplace, even in the road, to emphasise the thought of napping in every single place.” By means of a sure lens, you’ll be able to see a direct line from the Ostrichpillow to leisurewear worn at work.

Whereas bringing the first pillow to market, the crew needed it to recreate the full expertise of a cozy mattress, simply in your head. Creating that sensation required they be taught a lot about textiles and cushioning. As I slip on the authentic Ostrichpillow for the first time, I really feel a stunning stretch from the grey cotton because it conforms round my face. The microbead filling hits towards my cheek as I relaxation it on the sofa. Sure, I can lastly calm down with out a standalone pillow! Nonetheless, to be trustworthy, my head feels a bit too sizzling after a couple of minutes to be all that snug, which makes me fairly grateful for the pillow’s entrance respiratory gap. (Carrascal most popular an earlier prototype that had no gap in the entrance in any respect, however he admits person testing necessitated the cutout.)

[Photo: Ostrichpillow]

Whereas Ostrichpillow began as an educational design object, in 2013, it landed on the burgeoning Kickstarter platform—and raised almost $200,000 from 1,800 backers. The Ostrichpillow’s story may have ended there. As a substitute, the crew started to see this cloth and cushioning—and dealing with industrial companions to assemble such a difficult supportive pillow with no sharp seams—as helpful IP with which they might create different merchandise. In the meantime, the crowdsourced nature of Kickstarter meant that the crew was inundated with messages, requesting different distinctive pillows for particular conditions.

“So we began engaged on extra merchandise to assist individuals with sleeping and relaxation in several moments of their life,” says Carrascal. “In the finish, what designers do is to enhance individuals’s lives. After pondering a lot about what we may do, and what we have been good at, we thought self-care is a massive subject for us . . . and one thing the place we may present options in lots of areas.”

What resulted was an iPod-like product line of plush merchandise of assorted sizes and permutations. The subsequent wave of merchandise was designed particularly for journey. First was the Ostrichpillow Light, a donut that wraps round your eyes and ears like a puffy blindfold to dam out the sights and sounds on crowded planes. The again options a drawstring to tighten it round your head. (It’s as snug as marketed, and all the things I’d hoped the authentic pillow can be.) The Ostrichpillow Mini is mainly a massive oven mitt you slip on for these instances whenever you’re compelled to sleep in your hand. And the Ostrichpillow Go marked the firm’s most direct response to airplane journey, the firm’s first foray into reminiscence foam with a wrap that Velcros round your neck to assist it, like an ergonomic coiling snake.

[Photo: Ostrichpillow]

As the firm distributed its merchandise into greater than 100 shops, starting from Nordstrom to Amazon, it continued to crowdfund its new merchandise on locations like Kickstarter. That could be stunning for a firm that broke the million greenback income mark in 2018. “Typically individuals ask why you’re nonetheless doing crowdfunding, and it’s as a result of it makes us take it extra critically,” says Carrascal. “As a result of the group there’s fairly demanding. They’ve very excessive expectations. So it helps us to set a massive aim for our design and manufacturing crew.”


Ostrichpillow continues to mine crowdfunding suggestions for extra concepts for extra merchandise. “I’ve to say I’m very fortunate; a lot of individuals got here to us to inform us their issues,” says Carrascal. “For me as a designer, that’s gold. As a result of I like to resolve issues, and also you’re right here to inform me your issues!”

Ostrichpillow’s journey line did nicely—its best-selling product ever is the Go—however COVID-19 slowed down that market. And Carrascal argues that, whereas the firm had success with journey, most individuals solely journey a few instances a year at most. So their buyer base was inherently restricted.

The corporate has toe-dipped diversifying its line from pillows with merchandise like the Hood (a hoodie with out the sweatshirt, mainly, which is supposed that will help you calm down, however continues to be as confounding to me now as the day I first tried it), bamboo compression socks, and a digital detox telephone case that blocks out calls. Nonetheless, the newest chapter for Ostrichpillow is all about self-care at dwelling, leveraging its creative method to cushioning but once more. Its new line consists of a neck wrap and heatbag full of clay which you can fireplace up in a microwave (Carrascal says the aim was for the bag to really feel like a heat hug) and a sleep masks full of reminiscence foam that protects your eyes from any strain whereas blocking out gentle.

As for the future, Ostrichpillow is happy about its home-oriented line, however doesn’t plan to cease at serving to you get relaxation. “We’re very serious about new habits [and] the right way to facilitate [them],” Carrascal says. “Our crew is assured in . . . launching new options to allow up to date self-care.”