Mess leads to idea for functional pillow, growing business

By Ned Hunter Published: May 15, 2013 | 4:05 pm 0

Brock Matthews can credit a toddler for his growing business.

In 2007, Matthews was sharing a night with family and friends at his Colorado Springs home when daughter Kylie, then 2, who was still learning to walk, stumbled and tumbled through the room. With no end or coffee tables in the basement entertainment room, beverages and snacks were set on the floor or window sills or balanced on laps. By the time Kylie found a place to settle, popcorn and soda were strewn across the cream-colored carpet, leaving stains still visible today, Matthews said.

A frustrated Matthews wondered if there wasn't a better way to hold food, drinks, computers and other items on one's lap. The idea came late that night as he rearranged the decorative pillows on his sofa.

"I thought, what if we could use those to secure a beverage while we watched a movie," he said.

Such was the beginning of his business, It's All in the Pillow.

The next day, Matthews - who manages Distinctive Dentistry, owned by his father - bought pillows from Target and began tearing them apart to see how they were constructed. From there, he worked to develop a decorative pillow that could double as a dinner tray or work space. After several designs, Matthews created a "three-in-one tray pillow."

When unzipped, the pillow folds out to provide a tabletop and drink holder; the pillow locks when open to keep it from bending or folding shut when in use. When not in use as a tray, the halves fold back together and the pillow is tossed back on the furniture.

The majority of Matthews' pillows are sold online (www.itsallinthepillow.com), but Matthews recently signed a contract with American Furniture Warehouse to sell his invention in the company's 12 statewide locations beginning in July.

A big break came in December, when the company sold 4,500 pillows in three days in its debut on QVC. Matthews is scheduled to reappear on QVC at 5 p.m. Friday.

"We are a QVC top-rated product based on reviews and lack of returns," Matthews said. "To be a top rated product right out of the gate is frankly pretty humbling."

Matthews has four investors in his company, but no employees as of yet. The pillows are manufactured in China and come in black, silver, brown, red; there's also a safari collection with giraffe, zebra and leopard patterns, and a series of collegiate pillows including a University of Colorado one. Matthews plans to introduce other colors in the coming months. He is also working on adding child-sized pillows shaped as a dog, lion, giraffe, monkey and moose by year's end.

"We will introduce a functional, plush, stuffed animal for children," he said, "that they can use for a desktop for homework, or eat meals, or play games on, and also be their best friend."

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Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.

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