November 12, 2020 4 min read

The HEST Pillow has come a long way. From an idea to a sketch, to many iterations of prototypes, to a Kickstarter campaign that was unbelievably successful, to now: actual production of an actual product! It’s a wonderful feeling to see something our team has been working on for a year come into fruition. 
Aaron (our founder) recently took a trip down to the state-of-art California facility where our fill & liners are being assembled, and we had some questions for him when he got back about the experience! Here’s what he had to say:

I love visiting factories.  It is incredibly energizing watching a design come to life in production.  I have always enjoyed the hard work and efficiency of a production facility. It was awesome to see their operation and our first production coming off their line.

What is the most exciting feature of the pillow? That’s a tough question…  I really appreciate the entire experience with the pillow.  The design is very thoughtful and clever.  I love the discovery of the different details.  A design should strive to be impactful enough to change human behavior, and I believe the HEST Pillow will do this by offering a personal, portable pillow to take more places. With product design, one strives for different reactions to prototypes to inform the direction for the product.  I’ll always remember taking a prototype on a road trip during the summer, and my daughter’s friend used the pillow for a nap in the car.  When she woke up, she said- “I loved the pillow.  I dreamed”.  That’s when I knew we were on the right path. 

What are the steps that go into creating the Pillow? We are buying different components for the pillow and completing final assembly at our headquarters in Seattle.  The pillow fill and liner come from California and the outer cover with technical fabrics is cut and sewn in China.  In California, they are shredding the same enhanced memory foam from our sleep system and mixing this with lightweight polyester clusters.  The memory foam we have sourced for our products is not influenced by temperature and works across the temperature ranges found in the outdoors.  We tested different materials, percentages of materials and weights to arrive at our final fill construction.

What do you call that foam shredding machine? How does it work? The factory called it the Willy Wonka machine.  That was a pretty good description.  It starts with the raw foam and polyester.  It shreds the material and then sucks it into different tubes.  The mixture is controlled per the specifications and eventually it is delivered to the liners at the end of the line.  It is a super impressive machine.

What went into the decision to opt out of poly bags? At HEST, we want to design better products to help people spend more time in the outdoors, and we want to help them to wake up recharged to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.  We build the products with quality materials and constructions to last a lifetime.  We also search for any opportunity to reduce our impact on the environment.  With the pillow design, the durable cover allows us to eliminate packaging from the final product design.  The same cover we designed for transportation to a campsite also keeps the pillow clean in our warehouse and at our retail locations.  This eliminates plastic bags and cardboard packaging from the final design.

After reaching your goal on Kickstarter, what was the next step for bringing the pillow to life? The first step was placing Purchase Orders to the factories for our pillow components.  As a small startup, cash flow is a challenge, since we need to buy materials and place orders to factories in advance of selling the product.  The Kickstarter was a wonderful experience to help us order our components with the support from our backers.  

 At the beginning conception phase of designing the pillow what were the top features you wanted in the pillow?  We wanted to design the comfort and performance of a home pillow with the added features of being portable and clean during camping trips.  Many of us were traveling with our home pillows to car camp, but they would get dirty or fill up the back of the car.  The HEST Pillow compresses into a smaller size for transporting and the sleep surface remains protected until you arrive at your campsite.

 Most travel/camp pillows are inflatable....why isn't the HEST Pillow? We started with air bladders in the prototypes.  We liked the idea of changing the volume of the pillow with air.  Unfortunately, we found the air bladders were loud and created an inconsistent thickness.  They were loud, since the materials required to hold air are stiff and coated to be air tight.  The prototypes were inconsistent thickness, since each time we’d blow it up, the pressure would be different.  Also, we found the air would move around and change the support during the night.