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An incredible example to follow, Boll & Branch is the first Fair Trade Certified bedding brand EVER. How could you not be proud of that? Missy Tannen and her husband, Scott, started the company after going through the miserable task of buying bedsheets for themselves and couldn’t find the perfect one, so they made some! Read Missy’s interview to find out why she made her company Fair Trade, what it’s like to work with her husband, and some great entrepreneurial advice.

We hear you just launched a new kid’s collection? Tell us all about it.

We’re really excited about our new kids collection! We’ve used 100% organic cotton to create incredibly soft sheets for the little ones. The colors are designed to work with any bedroom, whether it’s a solid or our Seedling pattern (which was created with an original watercolor design, inspired by our logo).

Why was it so important to you to make Boll & Branch fair trade?

There are people behind every product we make. These hardworking men and women simply want to provide for their families and put food on the table. I couldn’t imagine creating a business that wasn’t Fair Trade Certified.
I believe in treating people the way you’d like to be treated yourself. It is very important to me to know that the people who are responsible for making the beautiful products we sell are paid fairly and treated well. I’m incredibly proud that Boll & Branch was the first bedding brand ever to be certified by Fair Trade USA.

How do you manage to have such a successful company, while being both fair trade and luxury at a fraction of the price?

The markups on bedding are incredibly high. So, streamlining the supply-chain and cutting out the markups and licensing fees enabled us to bring a product to market at a fraction of the price. We oversee our entire operation from the time the cotton is picked until a finished product is delivered to a customer’s front door. We have worked very hard to eliminate waste in that process and pass the savings on to our customers.

Missy Tannen and daughter sophie at boll & branch factory in india

How did your business model come to be? What made you want to be in this line of business?

A couple years back, my husband, Scott, and I were your average consumers renovating our master bedroom. We were changing from a Queen bed to a King size, so we needed new bedding. What should have been a fun and easy task, wound up being incredibly unpleasant and confusing. That’s when we decided to set out to make the best sheets that we could.

How did you transition from being teacher to being a businesswoman? How did that affect your kids?

I was an elementary school teacher prior to having children. Once I had our three daughters, I was a stay-at-home mom. The transition to working full-time was gradual, but since the beginning, our girls have been a part of creating Boll & Branch. They are there to sample new products that come in, measure packaging dimensions with me, look at different colors.  They’ve always been regulars in the office, and they feel so special being there to talk with and “help” everyone. Of course there are times when it doesn’t all work out perfectly, but overall, they feel the same pride in Boll & Branch that Scott and I do.

What’s your favorite part about running your own business?

My favorite part of running my own business is the flexibility that I have to be present with our daughters. I’m able to adjust my “in office” schedule based on what is going on with our family. There’s always time when the girls are sleeping to continue what I was working on during the day.

twins of Missy Tannen, cofounder of Boll & Branch
What do you value most in  life (besides you kids)?

I value my sleep! I’ve always needed a full night of sleep (and yes, as a child, I was one of the first to fall asleep at slumber parties!). When I wake up refreshed, then I feel good and can be the person that I strive to be.

What is the most important thing you want to teach your kids?

I want to teach our daughters that if you work hard for something, anything is possible.

What is it like working with your husband? What are each your roles at Boll & Branch?

A lot of people want to know what it is like working with my husband, Scott. I actually love working with my husband. We have poured our hearts and souls into starting our business, and it’s been neat to have someone to share it with. For us, there has been such a clear division of our strengths and roles. I am responsible for everything having to do with our products; from design, to production, to quality, to packaging and customer experience. Scott looks after the general business operations and marketing. It works for us, because we are each doing what we love. There’s no one that I would trust more than Scott to do what he is doing.

If you were to ask your kids what you do for a living what would they say?

You would get different responses depending on who you ask. Our older daughter, who has traveled to our factories in India with us, has seen first hand what we are doing, and the impact that it is having on the world. Our little twins would say that we make their sheets, and have a really cool office that has unlimited gummy snacks!

Missy Tannen and daughter sophie at boll & branch factory in india

There are people behind every product we make. These hardworking men and women simply want to provide for their families and put food on the table. I couldn’t imagine creating a business that wasn’t Fair Trade Certified.

What is your favorite mommy and me activity?

Every weekend, you can find my daughters and myself in pjs making a breakfast feast. We love being schedule-free, and taking our time to be together… and we make some pretty fun pancake shapes!

What advice would you entrepreneurs just starting out?

Be honest with yourself. In Boll & Branch, I have created a product, company and mission that I am genuinely passionate about. There are so many days when the pressures and stress of being an Entrepreneur make you want to crawl back into bed and hide under the covers. If you’re not truly passionate about what you’re doing, the pressures of the job may get the best of you. So, before you start make sure you truly have a passion for what you’ll be doing because that is what will drive you.

What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest obstacle in starting Boll & Branch has been that I’ve condensed a career of textiles into the past three and a half years. I was completely new to the industry, so I’ve had a lot to learn. Being the “new kid”, I’ve had a million questions to ask. And once I get an answer, it leads me to the next question. I have been very fortunate to work with some incredible people along the way, and together, we’ve been motivated to make something new from scratch.

Best business advice you’ve ever received?

Always sweat the small stuff. Too often we hear people say, `Don’t sweat the small stuff.’ As an entrepreneur, you have to sweat the small stuff. It is the details that can often make the difference between those who succeed and don’t.

Missy Tannen, cofounder of boll & branch


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