The Silk Pillowcase

The Silk Pillowcase

 The Silk Pillowcase The Silk Pillowcase Product Shot

'Rising Star' Award winner, of the Women In Business Network, Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 Awards, Aisling Grimley, tells us about her business journey from 2019 to date - overcoming challenges, taking opportunities, collaborating, her exciting plans for 2021 and beyond.

Aisling's product range may relate to the ultimate sleep however she is wide awake when it comes to advancing her business! 

Inspiration, Research & Target Market

  • The Silk Pillowcase began life in July 2019
  • I was inspired by my menopause website ‘My Second Spring’. Listening to women at midlife since 2013, I learned about the difficulties that many people have with sleep and the benefits of good sleep routines and accessories. 
  • Having provided information and earned revenue through events in the past, I was also keen to create a product-based eCommerce site. I was looking for a product with a straightforward income stream and understood the benefits of silk for skin, hair, sleep and temperature regulation.
  • I anticipated that the appeal of silk would include but would not be limited to my existing audience of women aged 45-60. I knew they would be a reliable first port of call for sales at our launch.

Start-Up, Overcoming Hurdles and The Power of your Network

  • I spoke to a friend who was successfully selling baby accessories on Amazon using Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) and my initial plan was to follow her lead and this business model. The plan was to have 80% of the pillowcases shipped from the factory in China to Amazon in the US for fulfillment and distribute the balance myself. However, I ran into admin difficulties with Amazon and decided to sell directly myself from Dublin. The full first order of 500 silk pillowcases delivered to our home in Dublin for distribution.
  • I was lucky to have a friend running a successful eCommerce business locally and she helped me enormously and shared her contacts and tried and tested techniques. This business model has turned out to be very successful and cost-effective for us.
  • Perfecting the packaging took more time and effort than sourcing the beautiful pillowcase itself. We were keen to have a premium presentation for our luxury products and this took longer than I expected.

Becoming Self–Employed – Utilising Transferable Skills

  • I had been a full-time stay at home Mum for 13 years prior to setting up ‘My Second Spring’ in 2013. Before that when my children were very small I ran my own catering business from 1994-2000. I think my mind was made up to be self-employed by not enjoying some previous jobs and bosses that I worked for!

Challenges, Competition & Marketing

  • The challenges that I’ve faced have mainly been around getting product on time. Production and delivery from China always takes longer than anticipated and we’ve had some delays with customs along the way too.
  • We are in a competitive market especially internationally, there are a lot of other companies selling silk face masks. We have had customers think they’re buying from us only to discover it’s a company presenting itself as Irish but based elsewhere.
  • One large international competitor spends a lot on advertising here which I think has helped raise awareness around the benefits of silk. I feel we have benefited from their campaigns as people learn the benefits of silk but look to shop locally.
  • Over half our business comes from organic search via Google. This is greatly helped by our name being very searchable and we make it clear through our SEO that we are shipping from Dublin, Ireland.

How LEO supports helped The Silk Pillowcase  

  • When I wanted to return to work after 13 years at home with my family I did the Start Your Own Business with the DCEB now LEO. This was a great refresher for my Business Studies Degree from Trinity College Dublin (1987).
  • The LEO mentoring programme ensured that I got going with my business in a focused and timely manner.
  • Following the SYOB course I attended regular meetings with LEO Dublin City Women’s Business Network which were a great way to network and learn new skills.
  • When I wanted to pivot my interests beyond ‘My Second Spring’ the Trading Online Vouchers (TOV) were instrumental in getting my eCommerce site and supporting Social Media in place.
  • We used the second TOV to expand our product range and grow our social media following.
  • Winning the Rising Star of the Year Award at the Female Entrepreneur of the Year Awards last December, 2020 was a huge boost and has given me brilliant momentum to start 2021.
  • I continue to find the training events with the Women’s Business Network excellent and a great resource and support. Recent workshops on social media, video, having a money mind set and sales have been very helpful.

COVID-19: Resilience, Adapting, New Products & Opportunities

  • The Silk Pillowcase has been very busy since Covid-19 with the surge in people shopping online and also wanting to support small local businesses.
  • Sleep disturbance has been a big problem for people during the pandemic and we can help to offer solutions.
  • We can send personalised gifts from one person to another to celebrate special occasions. We’re helping loved ones celebrate 21st, big birthdays, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Christmas and other events from a distance. We ship worldwide so this can be locally or internationally.
  • We brought out 2 different sets of silk face masks to meet the newly found demand and market for face coverings.

Next steps: 2021 and Beyond – Collaboration

  • Our current plan is to grow and consolidate the business that we have.
  • We started in July 2019 with 1 product – the hero Ivory mulberry silk pillowcase.
  • We now sell silk eye masks, silk pillowcases and silk face masks
  • We collaborate with 2 other small Irish businesses Flora + Fiona and The Nature of Things for gift sets.
  • We sell to 10 shops/beauticians.
  • Grow our social channels. • Work on SEO and keeping The Silk Pillowcase website up to date and relevant.

Contact & Further Details

Aisling Grimley - - 086 8752591


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