The New Year has come and gone, and I find myself reflecting on the whirlwind of changes we saw in the past 12 months. I am humbled and grateful to announce that 2016 was the most successful year on record for White Lotus Home! The expansion we have witnessed would not be possible without the wonderful community of customers who have supported our family-run business since 1981. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to keep America green and growing!
Reflecting on 35 Years of Growth
12 years ago, some of my colleagues taught that I was crazy for buying this company. Why would a “suit-and-tie” MBA want to leave his position in New York City to work in a small handcrafting facility in New Jersey? While the economy was decent, many factories were struggling as jobs shifted overseas. At the time, I felt the USA did not have much of a “green” lead: companies like Whole Foods represented niche markets and hybrid cars were a mystery to most consumers.
Being a native of Sullana --- Peru’s important cotton growing and farming area --- I knew first-hand what going green was all about. I knew that my older brother’s shoes would eventually become mine. I knew the importance of using all possible resources so that hardly anything was considered scrap or waste. My dad was an old-school fisherman who taught me the importance of working hard for your family and to support your local community. Since emigrating to Brooklyn in 1983, my family started a business manufacturing and selling handcrafted neckties. We quickly understood what it meant to create quality goods, what work ethics and deep appreciation for sustainable craftsmanship was all about. So when I took over White Lotus Home in 2005, I had a vision of the future: to lead the way in green, small-scale, American-made goods.
Since then, I have personally witnessed a growing “green” trend in most sectors, and I’m not alone. Organic food is hip, renewable energy is in demand, and more customers are looking to introduce natural, minimally processed goods in their lives in an effort to reduce exposure to toxic chemicals. I am seeing more than ever a desire for consumers to learn about the entire life cycle of products. People want to know where their things come from --- they want transparency and to feel good about their purchases. We recognize that buying a White Lotus Home pillow or mattress is a lifestyle choice. While the market for organic bedding is still narrow, it’s part of a rapidly-growing environment.
We at White Lotus Home hope to lead this movement. The world has changed since our founding in 1981, but our dedication to the care of our customers, our employees and our planet remains as strong as ever. And even though 2016 showed a nation divided politically, I truly feel that the boom of sales within the past year represents something that unifies us all: a desire to bolster American workers and products.
All of our manufacturing takes place in New Jersey, supporting local workers and the community’s economy. We are a proud member of the Made in America Movement, and we utilize domestic fibers and fabrics whenever possible. For example, our Organic Buckwheat and virgin wool each come from California, while our Organic Cotton is sourced from Texas. The nature of our production means a high demand for raw, minimally processed materials, so we feel good about giving so much business to American workers, from the farmers that grow our cotton to those that garnet the fibers. We believe that our hands-on production, highly trained artisans, and tight supervision of our natural materials contribute to a final product that makes a positive impact on the world around us.
We know you care about what you bring in your home. That’s why we are proud to produce bedding with the highest quality nature can offer. That’s why we continue to manufacture here in New Jersey, even if it would be less expensive to move our operations overseas. As our company continues to evolve, we appreciate each of our customers who, time and time again, choose our handcrafted products for your own homes or to refer to friends and family. Thank you.
White Lotus Home by the Numbers
Over 1,700,000 - Pounds of American-grown cotton used in 2016.
Over 10,000 – Pillows produced in 2016.
Over 2,500 – Mattresses and toppers produced in 2016
Over 70 – Private Label, Wholesale, and Drop Ship customers.
Over 50 – Web-based retailers carrying White Lotus Home products.
Over 20 – Brick and mortar retailers carrying White Lotus Home products.
1981 – Year White Lotus Home was founded in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
13 – Current number of White Lotus Home employees.
1 – White Lotus Home headquarters in Highland Park, N.J.
Changing With the Times
When I first took over White Lotus Home, the split between online and in-store retail was half and half. Our business is now up to 90% online, with our Wholesale, Drop Shipping and Private Label partners accounting for over 20% of total sales. The move away from brick-and-mortar stores meant shifting our attention away from our Brooklyn and Miami stores, which closed in early 2016, putting an even greater focus on our flagship location and fabrication plant in Highland Park, New Jersey. From here, we oversee all White Lotus Home e-commerce sales and supply a network of over 100 online resellers and physical retailers throughout the United States and Canada. We also handcraft displays of our products for local clients. My experience shows that, in our industry, the ability to try out a mattress is still key, so we are once again considering expanding to other local cities.
So what else should you expect from White Lotus Home in 2017? We are always looking for ways to improve. While our methods and materials are traditional, our approach is nothing but! As CEO, my goals for White Lotus Home include better prices, a more personalized shopping experience, faster turn-around service, expanded product line, more intuitive website, and updated visual media. We are also in the process of cleaning up our product descriptions to make it easier than ever to navigate the world of natural bedding and find a product you’re sure to love.
Our Private Label Program represents the fastest-growing sector of our business, and I feel that a significant part of our future will be as a third-party, white-label manufacturer. I’ve really enjoyed the experience of working with clients to expand their existing product line or launch new products to their precise specifications. Because we work closely with our partners every step of the way – from start to finish – to turn their visions into reality.
As consumer demand rises for home furnishings that utilize sustainable materials and promote healthy air quality, White Lotus Home is perfectly poised to fill this need. We recently expanded our Designer Cooperative Program for interior designers, architects and builders working to achieve “green” accreditation from the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) or the US Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The option for organic emphasis in a design firm’s occupant-centered approach makes sense; aside from some specialized functions, people have special needs or share similar goals for Mother Earth. And because each piece of White Lotus Home bedding is crafted by hand almost exclusively to order, we have the flexibility to work with designers to create one-of-a-kind items that meet the unique specifications of their clients.
With Us, It’s Personal
As the President of White Lotus Home, I want to personally extend my appreciation to the loyal customers who, time and time again, choose our handcrafted products and refer to friends and family. Thank you for making White Lotus bedding a part of your home.
The greatest joy I can receive as an owner is to hear from the customers that use our products. Big or small --- I would like to hear from you. Please let us know if we've exceeded your expectations or if we still have room to grow. Your comments can help other customers with their bedding purchase, as well as provide feedback for our team of Organic Bedding professionals. We truly value input from our returning customers - it is your continued patronage that allows our small business to thrive over the past 36 years.
Thank you for listening to my story, as well as for sharing your own. Here’s to many nights of peaceful, organic rest.
President & CEO
White Lotus Home