In The Marketplace: How a Neck Injury Turned Into a Small Business Enterprise

Editor’s note: The following is a message from The Marketplace by TheBlaze.

Starting a business was the furthest thing from Paulette Fellows’ mind when she suffered a neck injury in 2002.

But little did she know that this painful experience would lead her to develop an innovative solution, not just for her own problem, but for countless others through a small business of her own. Paulette created a homegrown business, handcrafting individual pillows right here in America.

At The Marketplace by TheBlaze, this is how stories from our shop owners often begin: a tough problem followed by a great idea. While good ideas don’t always turn into successful start-ups, Paulette’s idea did.

“If you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, if you’ve got a good heart, a good idea and a good product, it’ll get out there,” Paulette says. “That’s what’s happened to us.”

After an appointment with the chiropractor, Paulette went home with a still-aching neck and a recommendation to start sleeping on a rolled-up towel. Because the injury had left Paulette with no curve in her neck, she needed extra support in order to sleep comfortably at night.

The PF Pillow features two comfort zones: Poly-Flex neck support and soft, premium duck feather interior.

It didn’t take long for Paulette to realize that the towel was not doing the trick. She tried pillow after pillow but still continued to struggle each night with restless sleep. Her chiropractor had recommended some specially designed chiropractic pillows, but none of those seemed to work for her either.

Finally, on a particularly exasperating night, Paulette blurted to her husband, “Why can’t they make one of these with more support?” His response was, “Well, make one!” Determined as ever, that’s exactly what she did.

Paulette designed a pillow that can benefit anyone who uses an ordinary pillow—not just people with neck injuries like herself. The PF Pillow is like a traditional bed pillow, but with added neck support, featuring two separate comfort zones. An ergonomically designed, Poly-Flex support is hand-positioned in a secure interior compartment and the rest of the pillow is filled with the softest premium duck feathers.

PF Pillows are hand-crafted with a dual-layer fabric and double stitching. Making her product 100 percent in the USA allows Paulette to not only ensure the quality is always there, but also to contribute to the local economy.

“Because of our growth we have been able to contract part of our manufacturing process to two other local Minnesota businesses,” Paulette says. “During peak manufacturing times we have been able to hire, temporarily, workers to help with production and shipping. At one point we had a struggling single mom, a retired senior citizen and young, single father.”

The PF Pillow

One of the biggest challenges Paulette’s business faces is competing against giant importers that are able to lower their prices by sending their manufacturing overseas.

“Keeping our pricing as reasonable as we can in order to be competitive and still make a profit means slow growth,” Paulette says. But she remains dedicated to her customers’ demand for a quality product that’s made in the USA.

“What really keeps me going,” she says, “is the feedback I get from my customers. People telling me it’s the first time they’ve slept in years. It’s a great feeling knowing you’ve been able to make a difference in someone’s life.”

To learn more about PF Pillows or to discover more American made products in The Marketplace, click here.