About this project
Hello, my name is Fritha, welcome to Secret Pillow Project - I am delighted you are here. I am going to tell you my story and invite you to become part of this project. Please watch the video above.
Thanks for watching it. So just to clarify;
What do I want you to do?
I want you to get involved with my campaign and help me get 500 Secret Pillows orders.
What is a Secret Pillow?
A Secret Pillow is quite simply a pillow the folds out into a blanket. It originates from the world of quilting and is also known as a quillow.
How are the Secret Pillows made?
I run workshops with women's groups from around the world and teach them how to make Secret Pillows. I give them a loan to buy materials and they make a sample batch whilst I find customers to buy them for £30 each. By just making 1 Secret Pillow the women pay back their loan and make £10. Secret Pillow Project keeps back £10 per Secret Pillow sold to support the UK costs of marketing, transportation, storage and distribution. The women go onto make a second sample batch and then they get paid £20 because there is no loan to pay back. These profit margins are quite simply transformational and with relatively low risk the women can build up a fund of money to support more Secret Pillow making and other money earning activities. The most important part of this is that as the women make and sell, the secrets of entrepreneurism are revealed to them and their personal power begins to unfold.
I hope you are now really looking forward to being the proud owner of a Secret Pillow. For more information about when you'll receive your Secret Pillow or for any other questions scroll down to see the FAQs.
Let's back up a bit and go back to beginning of my Secret Pillow story....
Secret Pillows have been in my life for a long time. I was introduced to them by Stefanie, the beautiful entrepreneur and inspirational mother of my three school friends Anna, Alexa and Natasha. The happiness I felt snuggled under a Secret Pillow alongside my dear friends secured the concept of Secret Pillows to memory. It was only as I started wanting to have my own children that I remembered the promise I had made to myself all those years ago – my children would also enjoy the delight and comfort that comes from snuggling on a sofa under Secret Pillows. My Kickstarter Project gives you the opportunity to own your own Secret Pillow/s.
Story continues... Clare's challenge
I really like sewing and decided to make my friends Secret Pillows when they got married, moved house etc. My friend Clare was very happy with her Secret Pillow and challenged me to start a business making and selling them. Immediately I dismissed this idea because I was busy building my own coaching and fundraising business, Believe YOU can make a difference.
Becoming an entrepreneur was a dream inspired by Stephanie and other business women I had met. I am delighted to say that the real life experience of running my own business had met my high expectations. I feel much more confident, independent and creative. Overall I feel truly empowered. Clare's challenge, that I too quickly dismissed, had planted a seed that nagged at me along with the question – how could I also inspire others? Then eureka! I realised I could share the secret of Secret Pillows with women in other parts of the world so they also felt a sense of entrepreneurship through making and selling.
Story continues...The pilot project
Immediately I started to network with organisations in India linked to women groups with basic sewing skills, who could attend my first Secret Pillow workshop. Ammichlabs, a department of Amrita University in South India, invited me to come and visit a group of women from Meppadi, Wayada District in Kerala who had just graduated out of a month long training course via a computer programme. The training was in tailoring and fabric printing. The workshop was booked in for July 2013. I made all the necessary preparations and flew to India.
To find out what happened next watch this film.
This film went onto inspire 50 orders for Secret Pillows. The demand proved to me that people thought Secret Pillows were as charming as I did.
True to their word the Meppadi Women’s Group delivered their order on time and the bag of Secret Pillows arrived in London in October 2013 delivered by a member of the Ammichlabs Team. Ripping the glad wrap off and unzipping the bag was so exciting. The high quality of the workmanship and fabric choices amazed me. They had done it!
Story continues... The discovery
Whilst we had successfully made and transported Secret Pillows from India, I knew the true success was yet to be measured. I needed to find out how the women felt about making and selling. How did their families feel? Could they make at home and still watch their children? Had it inspired them to make other products? How had they decided to spend the money they had earned? I had a million questions and knew the only next step was to fly back out to India and call a meeting with the women.
Meeting the women again was incredible and the insights they shared about their experiences making and selling blew me away.
I discovered 3 things:
- Secret Pillow acts as a kickstarter to financial independence
- Secret Pillow is accessible to all women not just talented seamstresses
- Being involved with Secret Pillow Project alighted a sense of entrepreneurship in the women - they felt like true entrepreneurs
Now this is what I call a complete success!
Watch this film and meet the wonderful women from of Meppadi Women's Group
Story continues... Gaining credibility
From working with Ammichlabs I realised Secret Pillow Project was more than just a ‘lovely’ idea, it was a solution to a genuine need.
Over the last 10+ years there has been a global movement to empower women worldwide by offering basic training and microcredit loans. Cottage industries have flourished but there is still a huge gap in the market for companies/charities offering products that make the producer a low risk, sizable start up profit. I worked with Ammichlabs from Amrita University who have trained 3,000 women in India in basic job skills including sewing. They understood only too well that lack of confidence, connections and diversity of product to sell outside local markets prevented women realising themselves as true entrepreneurs. They see Secret Pillow Project as a solution to this problem.
So that is my story to this point in time. I want to invite YOU to be part of the next chapter.
So let's get down to the nitty gritty and get you signed up on this exciting journey.
So from the top, what is the aim of this Kickstarter project?
The aim is to reach a goal of 500 Secret Pillow orders or reach an equivalent financial goal of £15,000.
How do you sign up?
You pledge to contribute to the Secret Pillow Project. For each pledge you will receive a reward. Read about them down the right hand side. Every reward will make somebody the proud owner of a Secret PIllow.
I am so proud of Secret Pillow Projects rewards and I am confident that you will be excited about them too. But I can imagine you have tons of questions, which I hope are answered in the quick to read Q & A Section below.
Questions & Answers about the rewards:
Customer: Are Secret Pillows suitable for babies?
Fritha: No, Secret Pillows are a craft item, they are enjoyed by mobile children and adults, ending up in all sorts of places on sofas, in cars, on beds, on airplanes, in garden houses, in offices, in boats - the list is endless!
Customer: What are Secret Pillows made of?
Fritha: During the workshop the women are asked to make their Secret PIllows out of 100% cotton fabric and a fire proof polyester wadding.
Customer: Have the Secret Pillows been tested?
Fritha: I have begun the testing process out in India in January and will be able to complete it when this campaign is successful. I will produce labels for the Secret Pillows which state their fabric content. The testing process will ensure that what we say the Secret Pillow is made of on the label is the same as what it is made of. They will also check flammability. When I get a stamp of approval, importing the Secret Pillows into UK will be possible.
Customer: What does Sample Secret Pillow mean?
Fritha: Sample Secret People means a Secret Pillow made as a women's first or second attempt following the workshop. All of the women's groups who produce the Secret Pillows you will come to own will be either working on their first sample batch or their second sample batch. Samples aren't always perfect but so far they have been of a really high standard.
Customer: On each reward it says the estimated delivery date for receiving our Secret Pillows is April 2015. Why is this?
Fritha: Basically I can't guarantee exactly when the Secret Pillows will arrive in the UK. Let me explain. Currently only 1 women's group has attended a workshop, there are 5 more women's groups in India waiting for their workshop and 1 women's group in Africa. With campaign success I will book flights to Africa and India and travel out in April. I will run a series of workshops with new women's groups and place orders for Secret Pillows. While I am out there I am also going to organise Secret Pillow testing and shipping arrangements and I aim for these women to make their fiirst Secret Pillows ready for September shipping. But as you see all sorts of things could delay the shipping, hence why I have decided to make April 2015 the deadline so I have a year to get you your own beautiful Secret Pillow. Makes all that more exciting! yes, no?
Customer: When do you hope the batches of Secret Pillows will arrive?
Fritha: Well I have already touched on this above, but just to clarify. I am planning for a large shipment of Secret Pillows to leave India in September to arrive for October/November ready for Christmas. I hope at least half the Secret PIllow orders (250) with be out with customers by Christmas. But I can't promise this.
Customer: How do you choose your Secret Pillow?
Fritha: When the Secret Pillows arrive I will photograph the fabric on the Secret Pillow's front and add it to special email which will code each one. ALL customers will receive this email and will be asked to respond with the code of the Secret Pillow they most like. The Secret Pillows will be distributed on a first come, first served basis. If your choose one that has already gone or none of the colours/fabric chooses are to your taste, just wait for the next batch to arrive.
It will say what women's group made each Secret Pillow and which country they are from.
Customer: Do you have to choose your Secret Pillow?
Fritha: No. I am happy to choose for you.
Customer: How does it work when you gift a Secret Pillow to a loved one?
Fritha: If you choose this option, you will be sent a card with an envelope. Inside is a explanation of the gift and instructions on how to claim it, as well as the space for you to write something special. Fill it all in and send it to your friend who will then need to get in touch with me and give me their email. They will then become like any other excited customers waiting to choose.
Customer: What is the difference between the rewards Secret Pillow as a gift and Secret Pillow as a Christmas present?
Fritha: Simply the design of the card. The christmas card will have a seasonal picture on whereas the gift card won't.
Wow! I think we have reached the end.
If you still have any questions, please get in touch with me. Thank you for investing your time learning about my special Secret Pillow Project. I look forward to meeting you.
With love and thanks
Fellowship spirit The Secret Pillow Project is proud to be featured on the RSA curated area on Kickstarter, which selects the best new ideas to help tackle social problems that its 27,000 Fellows are looking to deliver. I’m an RSA Fellow and have been selected to be a part of this. Click here to see more RSA-backed projects and find out more about the RSA.
Risks and challenges
There are two challenges that come with completing my project.
Both challenges I have already mentioned. The first is securing a stamp of approval to import the Secret Pillows into the UK from abroad.
The second is maintaining a high level of workmanship even though they are Sample Secret Pillows. The importance of measuring accurately, cutting and sewing in straight lines is all built into the workshop, so I see it as a challenge that is easy to overcome.
I am a determined person and I have worked on many projects that had complicated aspects to them. I have overcome huge challenges in the past. Read more all about me in the section below.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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