Ashley: I am so excited today. I have Jennifer Haer joining me, she is the owner of Bliss on a Budget – luxury wholesale mattresses. Thank you so much.
Jennifer: Thanks for having me, I’m excited to chat with you today.
A: Can you tell me a little bit about your business?
J: Yeah. So we are a mattress business. We sell mattresses. We are based in West Maple Ridge and we are opened by appointments. So a lot of people will be driving around and be like, sorry, where are you? What, what, you know, where is the mattress store? So basically how it works is we are able to keep our overheads low by not having a big expensive retail space. So instead of having a big, expensive retail space, we have a small by appointment only sort of no frills showroom, but it works really well when people do arrive. They absolutely love it because they really get one on one service, you know, we do a whole consultation with them to help them find the perfect mattress. They get to try all of the mattresses out that we offer. Generally speaking, because of the way that we operate, we can offer same or next day free delivery anywhere in the Lower Mainland, which people love. We’re about half the price of a traditional retail mattress store. So we’re offering Canadian made luxury mattresses at about half the price that you pay retail.
A: Which is so fantastic to be able to have that really customizable shopping experience. I think when you go into a traditional mattress store, it almost feels overwhelming because you don’t really know what you’re looking for.
A: And then I either get that you’re ignored and people are like busy doing other things; so they don’t really talk to you or you get bombarded with people. They just feel very like salesy versus somebody who’s there to support you and help you. And I love that your products are Canadian made.
J: Yeah, they are. All of our mattresses are made in Calgary by the oldest mattress manufacturer in Canada. They’re properly made orthopedic beds. Sometimes I get people saying: “oh, what about those bed in a box?” and like, sorry, but I’m anti bed in a box. Like person I’m here to tell you, generally speaking; I’ve never found one that I felt good about selling. We don’t really sell memory foam beds either. We really do focus on, properly made, zoned with orthopedic support, luxury beds. So just really well made beds. They’re all Canadian made with Canadian made steel pocket coils. Canadian made soy based pure certified foam. So super, super safe, super low off gassing. Which people really love as well. No funky smells, you know, when you take the mattress outta the bag and yeah, so, it’s been really great.
IS YOUR MATTRESS CAUSING HEALTH ISSUES?
A: Well, and things like that off gassing, we never really considered before how negative that can affect our health. I really do like that there is more education about that so that we’re not really bringing this thing in. That’s gonna poison us in our own home, especially while we’re like laying on it. Especially, I don’t know about you, but like in the last two years, I’ve spent way more time in my bed than I have ever before.
J: I think everybody has. Yeah, yeah.
A: Cause it’s really become, in some ways like the office space, the like entertainment, the like the I-just-need-a-break-from-my-kids space. On top of actually wanting to sleep in it. Yeah. So more than ever, it really does make such a significant difference; what we’re spending our time on.
J: Well, that’s what it comes down to; spending your time on, because, I mean all of those extra things aside from like watching TV and like working all of that aside. If you just slept in your bed, you spend a third of your life sleeping, you spend a third of your life in bed. So it is so, so important to make sure that you are getting a good quality sleep. We’ve been in business for about five years and, I started realizing very early on with speaking to my customers and, I like to take a full approach to it. “So how is your bed now? How are you sleeping now? Are you having back pains? Are you having neck problems?” So you know, you really start to realize that, a lot of people have huge problems with their sleep. They are not sleeping enough and they’re not getting good quality sleep. So some people are saying: “oh yeah, yeah. You know, I sleep for eight hours a night!” Okay. But like, what is the quality of your sleep? Are you restless? Are you waking up feeling tired? If you’re waking up feeling tired, that’s not a good quality sleep and it impacts every single aspect of your life. So it really, really is important to make sure that you are getting the best sleep that you can get. And that starts with your mattress.
A: I think that’s a really important part about self care and our overall mental health that we really, I think gloss over at times just how important quality sleep is. But I think a lot of the times it’s it’s quantity; we’re like; “ah, I got six hours and that’s good,” but it really makes so much more of a difference that the quality versus quantity is there.
J: it’s actually been clinically proven that the less sleep you get you live less. There’s a direct correlation between. Your lifespan and the amount of sleep, you know, the people say, oh, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Like, no, no, you wanna get your sleep while you’re alive. So you can enjoy your life, live the best life you can. And be as healthy as you can. I mean, there is a direct correlation to all kinds of diseases. Just, it would shock you, so there’s that aspect. There’s the actual health aspect; I’m speaking to a health and wellness coach over the past few months, just getting more information about this as I’m learning and they were actually saying that; nutrition is the most important thing. What you put into your body is the most important thing. Say if you’re trying to live a healthy lifestyle or, reduce your fat on your body or anything like that, the second most important thing isn’t exercise. It’s sleep. It’s rest, which I was shocked by. If you’re not getting your sleep, if you are not getting quality rest, It really is a detrimental force on your health. So it just becomes even more important for me personally to be down on the ground, helping people to find the right mattress. Like I really do care that every single customer is gonna get a better sleep and a healthy sleep after they get a mattress from us.
A: And now on your sort of journey of wanting to help people, not only do you sell mattresses, but you’re also training to become a sleep consultant, is that correct?
J: Yeah, I’m in the early infancy stages of that. I’m just trying to figure out the best way to go about doing it. But I mean, I’ve been, learning a lot on my own. Learning a lot through talking to my customers over the year, I’ve learned so much. And then you know, just different books. There’s a book called Why We Sleep, which is a really interesting resource. Now I’m actually looking at getting certified as a sleep expert. There’s lots of sleep experts out there and almost all of them are helping to get your baby to sleep through the night or your toddler or your child, which is important. But don’t get me wrong, like that’s super important, but I think that what’s glossed over is grownup sleep. It’s just as important cuz guess what? We’re the ones taking care of these little people. So if we’re not also focused on getting a good quality sleep and doing that, if you’re not healthy, then you can’t help anybody else. My focus is definitely grown up sleep and helping all the grownups out there, cuz there’s tons of really awesome sleep experts, helping the kids.
A: That’s such a good point. I know we talked about that on filled up cup last month or the month before, about how we really don’t focus on what our bedtime routine is and having that healthy sleep pattern. A lot of the times they feel like as a parent myself, I go to bed after sort of taking care of everybody else and it’s that like drained, exhausted; I just have to go to sleep. Where then it’s like, I put my head down and then it’s like, you almost get every single thought that you forgot to think about in your mind at that time. And it’s not really like, you’re either exhausted or your brain just won’t shut off. So you’re at half of the night and you wake up both ways, really not feeling rested.
A: So it’s so important for us to prioritize our sleep and prioritize, creating sort of that downtime and guaranteeing that we’re sleeping somewhere. It’s really beneficial for us.
J: Big time! I could not agree more. Believe me, I’m a mom to three young boys; ranging from nine months to seven years. So I get it. I get that need to be like, “okay, kids are in bed, it’s me time.” Like, let me watch my show, let me get my snacks, let me do all the things that you wanna do. I totally get that. I’m not saying not to do that, but there is; to your point, that bedtime routine. Like, you know, if you can put screens away for an hour or two before you go to bed, I know that’s not realistic for everybody, but if you’re having trouble sleeping, these are things you can do, that can really help. It doesn’t have to necessarily be forever… or maybe it does? Maybe you do it, love it and you just wanna have other things that you’re doing before bed. Like maybe reading a book, doing some meditation, doing some yoga. It’s not realistic for everybody and we wanna make it realistic for everybody. So you have to say; “okay, maybe try this for a little while and see how you feel”, and you know, that kind of thing. I know as well; to your point of waking up feeling exhausted, and there’s nothing worse cuz you’re not gonna start that day out on a great note – for you or for anybody else in the house if you’re waking up feeling tired. Right so, yeah.
A: I think a lot of the times when we think about self care, we really do think of it as like an after the fact. Where I think if we prioritize our sleep or coming up with a bedtime routine where we don’t necessarily need our phone and, scrolling TikTok until our eyes shut for the last time for that night; but we really do need to start thinking about self-care as being preemptive. Which is what I love about the idea of finding a bed that’s gonna; not only not poison you, but also give you that luxurious, comfortable sleep.
J: Yeah. Yeah.
A: Whether you have kids, whether you don’t have kids, nobody wants to start their day grumpy. I feel like that’s one of the biggest thing with not sleeping it’s like, you can’t think straight and your mood, just, isn’t ideal.
J: I totally agree, and bringing it back to the mattresses. I’ve also designed a mattress quiz on our website; so if you go to blissmattress.ca, you can start with that; a lot of people love to do their research online – so start with that! Go to our website and do the mattress quiz. It literally takes like two minutes to do this quiz and at the end of the quiz, you’ll get the results. Showing which mattresses are recommended for you based on, all the different questions in the quiz. Which has a wide range of questions varying from like: “are you hot sleeper? Are you cold sleeper? Do you sleep on your side? Do you sleep on your back? Do you sleep on your tummy?” All these different types of questions, really help to determine which of our mattresses would be the best fit for you. So a lot of people really love to do that. Then they’ll phone me or they’ll book a viewing, cuz you can book a viewing online on our website as well. Then they’ll come in and they’ll pull up their mattress results and say; “oh, I got the Glenora and the Allora!” and I’ll say: “great, excellent! let me pull those for you, let’s start with those.” So it’s a really personalized, low pressure shopping experience. I remember when you said earlier too, I mean, I get customers every day who are like, “oh, I went to a mattress store… I’m so confused, I’m so overwhelmed.” Like, this is such a big decision, It’s a huge investment, which it is. I just don’t know what to do and they’re just overwhelmed and it’s so easy to make the wrong decision in a mattress store where there’s a hundred choices, all different technologies, high pressure commission, sales people. It’s a lot. I talk to my customers every day , who are just overwhelmed by that process. And they end up not doing anything and hanging onto their old mattress for longer, which isn’t great. Right. So Anyhow, the point is when people come here, usually the average time people spend here is anywhere between 15 minutes to 45 minutes and they can feel really confident. We don’t have a hundred options. I have 12 beds that we have really specifically selected, so that there’s something for everybody at every price point. People come and they try the beds out, I get all their information about how they sleep and everything, and then they find the perfect mattress. So we try to keep it simple for people.
IS FIRM ACTUALLY BETTER FOR BAD BACKS?
A: I love that there’s so much thought process behind it because I think as somebody who’s purchased mattresses in the past, I would think price point. And then I would think firmness of the mattress, I wouldn’t necessarily think about the hot or cold or some of those different factors in it.
J: I know people are always like, so I have bad backs, so firmer is better. Right. And I’m like, no, not necessarily firmer. Isn’t better for everybody. Sometimes it is sometimes it isn’t, and that’s what I’m here to help you figure out. Right? I think there is that preconceived notion out there that like, okay, if I sleep on something, that’s like, feels like the floor, you know? But no, if you’re not comfortable, if your body isn’t comfortable, you’re not gonna get a good sleep. That’s probably exacerbating the issues where you have back pain or anything else. It is really important to come in, if you can. We do also have customers who shop online. If you are shopping online, I always recommend you give me a phone call because during COVID we got very, very good at helping people pick out the right mattress over the phone. We offered free contact-less curbside delivery, which we still offer today. We’ve kept that because people love it. But we got really good at doing a phone consultation over the phone, finding out about our customer’s needs. Basically that’s me. I say we, but that’s me, doing that. Then picking the right mattress for them sent, you know, they can check out all the details of it on the website and then go ahead and make the purchase.
A: Well, and thinking about COVID, it must have been so hard as a relatively new business. Because you guys would’ve been open about what, two years when COVID hit?
J: Two years, two and a half years, I mean, it was just such a confusing time I think for everybody. Then small businesses on top of that, was just extra hard, but that, I mean, at the same time – on the flip side of that it really kicked my butt into gear. To say: okay, well, we didn’t have a website. So I said, okay, I need to do the work when I started the business. I had my second son and he was… he’s five now. When I started the business, he was just a newborn. So, you know, I really didn’t have time. I was just getting the business going. I was, just in go mode. And so I really had the time actually, during the pandemic, during lockdown to sit down and say, I’m gonna, get this website done and get all of our products out there. Funnily enough, we had done a photoshoot to get this done, like months before so we had photographed all our products. We had everything, I just hadn’t had time. When we were in lockdown, I spent the time with a really great local young entrepreneurial web team, Longhouse Media over in Fort Langley. They’re really great. Keenan and Austin, great couple of guys. We got it done. They did it all. Then I said, well, I wanna do a mattress quiz and they were like, “I don’t know about this. I don’t know if we’ve ever done anything like this before”, but I was very adamant that we have that resource for people – and it turned out so well. I think it’s probably the most visited thing on our website: the mattress quiz, because you know, it’s a quick little quiz and it really helps people to determine which mattress basically to get.
A: When you walk into a store, whether it’s mattress or somewhere else, you don’t wanna admit that you don’t really know what you’re doing. So, I feel like we don’t wanna feel dumb or we don’t wanna feel intimidated by the process. So something as simple as filling out an online quiz. It would release so much of that pressure and it would really be like, “ah, maybe I want this, maybe I want that,” and then it makes it easier, I think, to start that conversation of: where do we go from here? Versus walking in blind.
J: Totally. That’s why, if people are just gonna buy online, I do recommend that they do phone me just to talk over the choices that they got. Talk over their final selection because you know, I can really help them hone in and make sure they’re making the right choice. I know this is just making extra work for myself, but when we do get orders that just come through the website, when I haven’t ever spoken to the person, I will usually phone you and I will follow up and say, this is the mattress that you purchased. “Is it for yourself? Is it for a guest bed? Is it for somebody else?” I’ll just do that bit of extra work to really make sure that you are getting the right mattress because, I really do care that people love the mattress. They get from us A, because I want people to get an excellent sleep and have, you know, the best life they can have. But B because our business is based on referrals because we don’t have the foot traffic of a regular retail location. About 50% of our business is now referral based because people have shopped with us over the years. They love their mattresses. They love the experience, and they tell their friends, their neighbors, their coworkers, their family. So it’s really important for me that every single customer has a positive experience. so we try to go that extra mile to like pick up the phone. Talk to me like I will take the time, I want you to get the right bed.
A: I think that that piece in so many businesses is missing. I feel like traditional customer service to what people call customer service today is so vastly different. I know my daughter will roll her eyes at me when I’m like, how are people treating their customers like this? Like in most businesses today, I find that it’s almost like they feel like we’re doing them a favor. Versus them appreciating that their customers walking through the door, like there’s so many places where they don’t even greet you. Or you can be standing there, like looking at something and you physically have to go find somebody to ask for help. So the fact that it even occurs to you to be like, I’m gonna phone them and just make sure we’re on the same page, I think is beyond fantastic.
J: Yeah. So it’s so funny that you say that because anytime I go to the mall with pretty much anybody younger than, you know, 25, they’re like, what’s your problem? I can’t even be in here right now because. Listen, my first job when I was in high school was working for a company called Please Mom. I don’t know if you remember, Please Mom. It was a kids. Yep. Clothing company, every single thing. It was owned by a woman named Catherine, Adrian. She’s a Vancouver entrepreneur. Amazing woman and she started this company and all the clothes were designed and made in Vancouver for many, many years. She had stores all across Canada. That was my first job and let me tell you, I mean, everything I do today, as far as customer service goes and the attention to customers and making sure. Giving customers that personally I learned at Please Mom, because customer service was number one. It was so important. You know, always, greeting the customer and then, we would help the customers find exactly what they were looking for. Spend time with them like, oh, don’t even get me started now trying to shop for my kids’ clothes. I go out there and it’s literally. Take my money. Like I need matching outfit for my son for this photo and they’re just, yeah, there’s some sweaters over there, you know?
A: Yeah. The personalization of it is missing so much.
J: Then you wonder why everyone’s shopping online and it’s because there’s no level of customer service. Of course, you know, small, independent boutiques, you still get that. You still get that from local businesses and that’s what people need to remember. It’s like, focus on your Canadian businesses, focus on your small, locally owned businesses. We care. We really, really do. That customer service aspect is just so, so important to me. So I take all that stuff that I learned basically from my Please Mom days, into my every day life and business.
A: I think that’s so important too, is to remember our local businesses. I think that’s one thing that maybe ordering online, we kind of realized over the last two or three years that when we don’t order from local, sometimes it can take like six months and I think was eye-opening to see where our products are really coming from. It’s like, not that we don’t wanna support other countries or mass producing certain things, but it made us realize, you know, what are the working conditions in that country? What are we paying for the product versus what the people making them are being paid. I think that it really shifted people’s focus to really wanting to be local and to support our own economy and support our own people.
J: I totally know what you’re talking about. I mean listen, like you say, it’s not like people are never gonna order from Amazon. Like you’re never gonna buy anything online. That’s unrealistic. People are gonna shop on Amazon for the convenience of it. We live super busy lives but when you can, where you can support local shop local, when you can, right, like work it into your life wherever you can and really do the research. I mean, a lot of times too, you can save a ton of money. People have, this preconceived notion that, shopping local is more expensive than shopping you know, through a big box store or from ordering from Amazon. That is just simply not the case. If you have the time shopping local, usually, I mean, I’ve done quite a bit of research on it. At this point. You can save a lot, you can also talk to the business owners, you can say: “Hey, how about a deal ?” and usually we will come up with something for you, right? Because we wanna support our neighbors and our friends in our community. We have the flexibility to be able to, work with people, to find the best solution, whether it’s a different product or, whether it’s a bit of a discount or whatever it is.
SUPPORTING LOCAL BUSINESSES AND WOMEN
A: It’s like that meme where you don’t wanna help another billionaire buy a yacht versus supporting that extra a hundred dollars within your own community. Now I know with your business community initiatives and supporting your local community is really important to you. Can you explain why you’re so passionate about that?
J: Well being a local business, I mean, it comes down to seeing how everything happened as well during COVID. It goes back to my grassroots of being with Please Mom being my very first job, and everything was made in Vancouver. It was just the best quality and everybody that worked for the company, we knew their hours, we knew their wages, we knew that they were in really, you know, ethical, good working conditions and all that kind of stuff. So Canadian made, first of all, was really important to me and will always be really important to me. That’s why I’m really proud that all of our mattresses are Canadian made. We’ve been to, the factory. We can see how they work. We can see that everybody’s treated really well and is happy with their compensation, and that everyone’s making a living wage. So that’s one part of it. Then it kind of goes deeper is to actual like your local community and local businesses and keeping money in your community and helping to support your local economy. Like you said, we absolutely wanna support economies all over the world, and that is important. But during lockdown in COVID and all of that sort of time happening. I really did feel an outpouring of support from my local community, people who, went out of their way to find my business and say, “We wanna support local. We wanna support you. We wanna help you guys get through this time.” And honestly it meant so much to me; and we formed so many relationships with people in our communities, friendships, relationships, other businesses and it just became super, super important to me. I am very passionate about it. The other part of that is I belong to the women in business group out here in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows which was started by Sherry Ham and Arian Joshkey. Sherry is a mortgage broker, and Arian is a photographer, both live in Pitt Meadows. They started this group about five years ago. I was introduced by my friend neighbor she makes like soups Seana’s Delectables. She makes soups and cookie mixes and all that kind of stuff and she saw me slogging away with the mattresses and with the kids and just saw that I was pretty much burning myself out. And she said, “you know what, why don’t you come to one of our, and it’s totally free. It’s a breakfast meeting once a month. You just chat with these other women, you network.” But the amount of support I have found over the years and have given in return to these other women who are just like me. They’re business owners in the community in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows is huge. We had our first meeting, post pandemic, first big meeting yesterday. We had a breakfast meeting at a restaurant Ricky’s in Maple Ridge which is owned by one of the women in business. Right. So we just support wherever we can and half of the women there must have been 40 women there. Half of the women have bought for me in a lot of new faces as well. Not just bought, but promoted my business, on Facebook, on Instagram, on social media, to their friends. Like we really do support each other and try to get the word out there as much as possible. So yes, supporting local is just really, really, really important to me.
A: I love that it’s a group of strong minded business women being able to support each other.
J: Yeah. It was that it was the networking and it was all that too, but it was also to your point, it’s just so nice to connect with like-minded women in your own community. I went from a very corporate job. I ran a big company before starting the mattress business, I ran a big company and I was flying all over the world. Every two or three weeks, I was on a plane and I finally. When I was expecting my second little guy, I said, no, no, I’m gonna do this instead. We’re gonna try it. We’re gonna take some time off and then try this instead. It’s been awesome and I absolutely love my job in my life, but before finding the women in business group, I did feel really isolated. I felt because you go from this big corporate job and flying and talking to people and in meetings and, having a team of people to doing your own thing by yourself it can be really isolating and you can feel really alone and I did I really did. So when I found this group of women, it’s almost like you have your own little… you have Christmas parties, you have your own little community of people that you work with and support and lift up – I absolutely love it.
A: It’s really hard. I think once you get to a certain age to make friends or to find that community of people where you kind of get caught up being a wife and then you get caught up being a mom, or then you get caught up with your job and it becomes compartmentalizing. All of these pieces of your life. That it, it really is hard to be like; “I just wanna talk to somebody about something else”, whether it’s business or whether it’s real Housewives or whatever the case may be, whatever it is. It’s something else.
A: To be able to find that because it it’s really hard to balance. I personally think that balance is a little. Bit just bullshit, quite frankly. I feel like the idea of balance is traditionally put on women. You know, I don’t know about you, but have you ever seen your husband be asked, you know, “how do you balance at all?” Never.
J: No. No you don’t: you multitask, you wear all the hats, you do all the things, and then you need a really good mattress to sleep in at the of the day. I mean, that’s, what it’s gonna come down to so you’re absolutely right. It is hard. I mean, my friends are scattered all over the world now which is great; but at the same time you do want other like-minded you know, women in your community because it’s more convenient, right? Your kids might go to school together. They might play soccer together, whatever it is. So it’s nice to have that group of, local women to have as friends and to talk to, and to support each other.
A: I love that you were able to find that within your community.
GETTING IN TOUCH WITH JENNIFER
J: So if anybody out there, like doesn’t have this in their community, maybe you should just start it cuz it’s huge and it’s life changing for people.
A: Perfect. That is really good for other business owners to consider. Cool. If people are looking for your mattress website, can you tell everybody where they can find you?
J: We’re at www.blissmattress.ca. So super easy. You can just go on the website. There’s lots of options when you’re on the website, you can just shop. You can do what 99% of the people do and do the mattress quiz. You can also find my phone number there. You can phone me directly. You can speak to me about your sleep, your mattress needs. Or you could book a viewing, which is really what I recommend people do is book a viewing come into the showroom so I can spend time with you and you can try the beds out and again, it’s no pressure, just because you booked a viewing doesn’t mean you have to buy a mattress. If you’re just at the start of your mattress shopping journey, like that’s fine. I really do recommend people go onto the site, try the mattress quiz and book a viewing if they get a chance.
A: Awesome. Well, Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today.
J: Thank you. It’s been such a pleasure. And I really appreciate the opportunity to come in and speak with you about all, of this.