As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Michael’s Hughes.
Michael Hughes is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of PlushBeds with a demonstrated history of building a vertically integrated natural and organic e-commerce mattress brand from startup to one of the largest in the USA. Passionate about the natural bedding space and skilled in business planning and operations, Michael built a mattress manufacturing plant from 1,000 to 80,000 square feet within 7 years. He has a degree in Business Management from Florida Atlantic University and currently resides in California.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My name is Michael Hughes; I am the founder and CEO of PlushBeds. I started the company as a tribute to my father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at just 40 years old. I watched this horrible disease rob him of everything he had, including his life, by age 64. While there is no definitive evidence as to what causes Parkinson’s Disease, epidemiologic studies suggest that exposure to certain chemicals in our environment are associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. When our daughter was born, my wife and I did a lot of research and eliminated as many chemicals in our home as possible. That search included looking for healthy, toxin-free mattresses for our family. We quickly learned how hard it was to find healthy, toxin-free mattresses! Most of the mattresses on the market were made with mystery urethane foams and other unhealthy materials covered in potentially harmful fire barriers. Salespeople were of little help as they had no idea what was in each mattress. We founded PlushBeds to provide our family and others with healthier sleep options. We did the research and built relationships with the healthiest and the best quality material suppliers, so that our family and others like ours could enjoy a healthy and worry-free sleep environment.
Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
I wouldn’t necessarily call it a mistake, but when we first started the company, we worked with a third-party supplier to construct our mattresses. They were above average but used the same materials from the suppliers most of our competitors were using, and we could do little to change that, and had limited control over improving the designs based on customer feedback. We quickly made the decision to manufacture ourselves. We proudly accepted this undertaking since it allowed us to directly source the world’s finest quality organic materials and sell our mattresses directly to our customers, without having to skimp on quality or raise our prices. The savings goes directly to better materials and savings to our customers, instead of going to third party retailers or storefronts. We are the largest importer of ARPICO organic latex in the United States. By working directly with the latex plantations, we are vertically integrated and control the complete process from the organic plantations in Sri Lanka to our customer’s bedrooms. It also allows us to offer the most consistent, highest quality, luxury latex mattress on the market.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey, because it focuses on the timeless principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. I practice the 7 Habits and it has helped me grow tremendously on both a personal and professional level.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
To be the best source for natural and organic sleep products, while maintaining environmentally conscious, ethical and sustainable business practices, to help safeguard our health and protect our planet. This vision continues today, as we continue to grow and add new innovative products.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
The number one principle is to stay laser-focused on the goal and not the day-to-day challenges that will occur.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with them any personal or family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Some of the challenges involved social distancing from family and friends. Our son has asthma, so balancing his safety with doing our best to provide a normal environment has been quite the challenge. Thankfully we’re able to stay connected and provide encouragement and support, with technology.
Can you share a few of the biggest work-related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The biggest work-related challenges have been with supplier and shipping delays. All PlushBeds products are handmade to order, and take approximately 7 days to make, but COVID-19 and increasing demands have pushed us to implement new protocols. To address the shipping delay challenges, we added a second shift for our production team so that all orders ship faster.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
It’s important that we stay connected and offer support to those who are in need during this time. It’s also important that we continue to provide hope for the future. These are uncertain times and it’s easy to feel scared or anxious, but we have to have faith that tough times don’t last and this soon shall pass.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that it will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
The pandemic has forced many people to shop online. Due to this, many people feel more comfortable shopping online, now more than ever. They are also more comfortable buying larger priced, luxury items online. I anticipate this trend will continue to grow as more people spend more time at home.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
During the pandemic, many people have been successfully working from home. Also, many students participate in online classes, from home. And, there is less travel. This has enabled families to spend more time at home together and engage in activities that bring their families closer. This trend may continue, to a certain extent, in the future.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid era?
We are well-positioned for the Post-COVID economy. We will continue to strive to be the best source for organic mattresses and natural sleep products, while maintaining environmentally conscious, ethical and sustainable business practices, to help safeguard the health of our customers and to protect our planet.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
Live consciously, be kind to others, shop for ethically made, sustainably sourced products and always remain positive and have faith in a better tomorrow.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.” — Roy T. Bennett
How can our readers further follow your work?
Readers can follow PlushBeds on our social media channels (@plushbeds) and continue checking the PlushBeds.com website for any new company updates and announcements.