Season 2 of “Just Stories with BT” features all Female Executive guests in the mattress/furniture space or other underrepresented industries!
These episodes focus on getting to know the amazing woman behind these roles and giving a platform to talk about getting our male dominated industries more balanced out!
In my first 3-way podcast, I was so impressed with Bedgear‘s Holly Adorno (Head of Player Development) and Shana Rocheleau (EVP Strategy) who have both been with Bedgear for over a decade! We talked about how to attract more female leaders into our industry, and I finally found out why Bedgear call their trainers “Sleep Coaches”. Both Holly and Shana have such unique backstories and I know you will pick up some amazing strategies for your business no matter what industry you work in.
Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and never miss an episode.
Brett Thornton: What is up? Welcome back to another episode of gestores with BT. I always start every episode by saying this is super exciting, and this episode is gonna be awesome. But this one truly is exciting and different because it is the first episode I’m doing with three people at once. So I’m really excited to have new executive, female powerhouses in our mattress and furniture industry both coming from bed gear. We have Shane and Holly. So welcome to the show. Thanks. Yes, this is really exciting. And something that’s going to happen and this show is really unique to which is you know, it’s not just that I have both of you on the show, but it’s that you guys have worked together at Goodyear for over a decade. And so as I asked you guys questions and stories, you’re going to kind of combo out and tell us so it’ll be individual but also together as a group of bed gear. But before we do that, I do want to introduce you guys independently, you’re obviously two separate amazing people. And so I’ve got a few notes that you guys send me over. So I’m going to introduce you for you. And then afterwards because I’m trying to do this with two people, I’m sure I’m gonna screw up and then you guys can tell me how I messed up and what I missed. So I’m good. It’s all good. Yes. Okay. So I was thinking about going back and forth, but then I realized that’s just doomed to fail. So I’m gonna do one at a time. So we’re gonna start with Shane. All right. So Shane is the EVP of strategy for bed gear. She was born in White Plains, New York. She grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. As a child, she was an avid reader, which is great. She was a runner a traveler. And I love that you said you spent half your junior year in Costa Rica because I’ve been to Costa Rica, I think five or six times when my favorite places in the world Love it. Love it, love it. And I asked you guys about your first job, which for you was at Bridgeport planetarium in the gift shop. And you said you have always had a love for merchandising. And that must have started then, which is awesome. You went to a small school No one’s ever heard of called UCLA. So we got a good you know, which was awesome. And after school, you went into work in your first job with Hugo Boss, which is cool. And that and that just related to Home Depot, and then a bunch of other really cool things, but eventually ending you at bed gear where you’ve had a really illustrious career, as I said, Now that you EVP of strategy, and the highlight was in 2018, you want the HFN award for inspiring women, which is really cool. That’s awesome. So that’s Shane. Now I’ll come back and ask you what I missed. So then we have Holly leads all player development at bed gear. She’s amazing. We’ve actually known each other for quite a while we worked together for many of years. She was born and raised in New Jersey, Jersey Shore. Well, I’m gonna ask you about that in the show. As you grew up, you had your parents were both hairdressers. So as you said, you grew up in a salon which you know, probably led you into wanting to be part of a company that was more entrepreneurial. Right? You were a state championship, high school cheerleader, which is really cool. You went to you did go to a smaller college named Monmouth, Monmouth, mon mouth, How do you say wherever said and as you when you started to work, you worked in different jobs, but you ended up in a local diner and then eventually elevated to the beach bar because A it’s more fun and B you get more tips, which is really cool. During college and after you got a job at Jennifer’s convertibles and I love what you said, which was you thought you’d be selling convertibles and obviously it’s not it’s not at all. Um, but you did really well there and you promoted got promoted and promoted to different higher levels, eventually getting to open up the Philadelphia market. And then eventually realizing that there was a great opportunity to move from retail into wholesale where you went to bed gear, and you’ve been there over 10 years now and had a ton of success. In the meantime, you had a few small things in your life happen. You got married, and had a daughter, which are obviously massive. And now your daughter Giuliana is 20 years old. And you also have a very spoiled shitzu name Ray. Yes, everybody hates her. I’m hoping that you don’t get hurt today. Yes. All right. So what did I miss? So first, Shana, what did I miss? What are some major milestones I should have put in there?
Shana Rocheleau: Yeah, I will just add that. One thing I’m really excited about is I’m on the board of the mattress recycling Council. And that is actually something I’m very passionate about. First of all, Ryan trainer, and everyone there does an amazing job. And what they have accomplished in keeping mattresses at a landfill is extraordinary. And the amount of work that they put in and just the quality of work that they do is amazing. So I really enjoy the time that I spend with them. I haven’t seen them much since COVID. But we used to meet in person and just I couldn’t be like more thrilled to just be on that kind of cutting edge of what they’re accomplishing and mattress recycling because it’s something very dear to bed gear as well and to my own sort of commitments, you just want to see us have a more sustainable industry and a more sustainable planet. So I really just wanted to highlight that.
Brett Thornton: Nice. I love it and tell me, what was your biggest learning when you spent that semester in Costa Rica as a 16 years old?
Shana Rocheleau: Well that I can’t repeat, because we’re still I was learning to translate the menu at McDonald’s? Because I was 16. And that’s a priority then. But, um, yeah, I really think that Costa Rica just introduced me to the idea that there, I really hadn’t met any international, so many people from other countries. Previously, I just lived in a relatively small town in Connecticut. So it was the first time I met kids from all over the world. And I guess it just sort of inspired my passion, or renewed my passion for travel. And is what I love so much about bed gear, when we opened up Russia, I actually was sent to Russia to open up the account. And I just love doing things like that. So it’s a little bit scary and super exciting all at the same time. And so I just love that part of my job today that it really just stuck with that moment of excitement from being a kid and just getting to travel and meet people and do things in different cultures.
Brett Thornton: I love that. I love that. Yeah, I think that, you know, I’ve talked to my parents multiple times, like I grew up, we’d have a lot of money. My parents both work for the state, but what they did was they’d save up all year, and then every summer, we would go somewhere. And so I never really had much, I never had the coolest, you know, toys or whatever. But every summer we would go do something really cool. And, you know, go to Mexico or Alaska or something, you know, and, but that just as you said, you know, it opens your eyes to like, oh, there’s actually other people that are not like me all over the world, but they’re actually just people and really cool. And you know, you’re like, Oh, I want to I want to do more of this. And then when I went to college, that’s what I did. I worked all year, and every summer I bailed. So I went to papa New Guinea and went to Australia. I went to, you know, all these different crazy places all over the world. And because my parents had done that, you know, and so now I’m so inspired as like, with having kids getting older. I’m like, I can’t wait to take them around the world, you know, cuz you just learn things you can’t learn here. You know? For sure. Awesome. Okay, so Holly, what did I miss? Or what were we add in to your major.
Holly Adorno: The one thing I do want to add in is I think it’s interesting because Shane and I worked together for so long, but I just wanted to kind of just give kudos to the fact that she still is an avid reader, an avid runner, and an avid traveler. So those things from when she was a kid are still like things that she absolutely loves to do. So, yeah, I’m proud of you for that. So what did we miss? So all the stuff that you had mentioned before Jennifer convertibles was before the age of 17. So my parents were hairdressers, I was the first person in my family to go to college. So the one thing that I feel like, you know, my parents made sure that I worked at a young age, and I really think it gave me a tremendous amount of grit. It was someone other than my mom and dad, you know, kind of giving direction and telling me what to do. And I think that that that really gave me a great foundation in terms of wanting to work hard learning the value of dollar wanting to have my own money, not having to, you know, rely on saying, Hey, can I have 20 bucks for this? So, you know, that’d be the one thing I would just add about, you know, before, you know, actually getting that first actual job, you know, which was an experience amongst itself, and I spent 18 years there. So, you know, a lot of lessons learned there, it was kind of like the Harvard of retail furniture store, from, you know, cleaning the bathroom all the way up to you know, getting to an executive level position and still cleaning the bathroom, right. So, you know, the other thing I would mention is something that’s near and dear to my heart that I’ve been doing for the last year is I’m also now mentoring female emerging leaders from other organizations, it’s something that I wasn’t sure that I would be really good at. And I’m really grateful that someone gave me a little bit of structure to it, but it’s something that I look forward to every single solitary month, kind of just gives me an opportunity to kind of work through some stuff that, you know, they find to be super challenging. The one thing that I find to be the most difficult thing is not solving their problem, because as you mentioned, I have a 20 year old daughter, and like, as a mom, the first thing that you want to do is you just want to be like, Oh, that’s easy, you know, we’ve got this, but it really is more about kind of just lending my experiences to things that might be helpful for them to kind of walk them down the road and make good decisions. So it’s something I’m really, really enjoying, I definitely would like to do it on a little bit of a bigger scale. But you know, it’s also about managing time, too. I think we’re all trying to find that work life balance. So I’m excited about that.
Brett Thornton: That’s awesome. I love that. So maybe at the very end, we can come back to that. So you can tell people if there’s any way that other you know, young female entrepreneurs and people in business who can get involved in it, let us know because that’s like a big part of the season. Right, which is, you know, we’re trying to shine a light on a lot of these different industries that have such an imbalance in leadership. You No. And so there’s multiple reasons why there’s an imbalance but in part two, it’s like, what are we doing to help? And what can we do to so that we’re not looking at that same issue and 1020 years down the road. So I love that. So we’re gonna come back to. But before we do that, although a lot of people listening right now or in bachelors, furniture, etc., there’s also a lot of other people listening and all these other fields, you might not know about bed gear. So tell us, you’re one of you guys, I think changed his mind. Do it, give us the you know, 10,000 foot game, and gear, and just what makes it so cool. As an organization? Literally cool.
Shana Rocheleau: Exactly. Yeah. Well, we can’t say enough great things about begge. Here. Like you mentioned, Holly, and I have both worked here for quite a while, and we just love it. Um, what I love most about it, I suppose is that just every day is exactly that we’re always doing something new. And it’s a challenge. And it’s exciting for that reason. So Ben here is we introduce the brand of performance betting to the industry. So we really just set out to create something new and different when we started working together. And we just saw that the white goods industry was exactly that very commodity and very dull. And Eugene envisioned a way that we could both change the look of the product and change the process by which it is sold. And so that is what we set out to do. And we built a personalized fitting process for our products. And we introduce the industry to some of the products that now are extremely well known, like, as Holly said, literally cool. Our first product that was, well was dry tech, but after dry tech was vertex, which is the cool product that everyone knows today. And so there was a time when people didn’t believe that a mattress protector could be sold at the retail that vertex carries. And we convinced everyone and Pioneer that and so between the pillows that we sell today, the pillow fitting process, the personalization of our products, and their performance, you know, we just really couldn’t, couldn’t ask for a better opportunity, just do things differently, and try to improve the specialty store experience and the guest experience. As you may know, we also spend a lot of time on that in store experience from technology and displays, really trying to make sure that when the customer walks into your store, they really get a unique, customized experience, and they want to buy from retailers because there’s one thing we love is bricks and mortar retailers. And, you know, we think retail is not dead, or in retail is dead. And so we just try to keep it exciting every day. And that’s what’s great about that hearing great about working here.
Brett Thornton: Nice. Love it. Yeah, I mean, I’ve obviously, in previous lives, worked with video for a long time and known Eugene for a long time. And, you know, I always thought, you know, that it’s funny when you look back now, but you know, we, early on, I remember even before the companies ever would ever sold big gear, you know, we were like, Well, you know, they’re just, they’re just marketers, you know, they’re, they’re, you know, they’re, they want everything to be cool or whatever. But then as soon as we actually started like touching and feeling and engaging with the product, like oh, well actually, you know, the products really amazing, too, you know, and like this is gonna work. And what’s funny is that, you know, if similar it’s almost a similar story to the bed in the box, you know, and like toughen, you don’t Casper and everybody who came in disrupted so much. I mean, you guys kind of did the same thing in the accessory market, right? Because it was so dull. So vanilla. So just the same fit, you know, I mean, it was so bad, you know, if you think about it from a marketing perspective, and it was so right for someone to come in and be like, Oh, no, you know, let’s put some actual, like personality behind this and have an actual market we go after and you know, so just, at least from the outside looking in, it just looked like it took off. And, and all the kind of old guard in the industry was just so far behind, it was hard to kind of catch up.
Shana Rocheleau: Yeah, we’re truly driven by a vision. And that’s, you know, that’s also an extraordinary thing, because it means that our focus is pretty singularly on ourselves. And where we’re headed, which lets us keep growing into new products like mattresses and our more sustainable modular mattress them three. So when to get to that level of innovation, you have to have that vision driving you. And so I would say yeah, that’s, that’s totally true. And it began we didn’t really call it disruptive, we call it additive. And that’s the approach we always took is how can we be additive? We’re not looking to disrupt the industry. We wanted the industry to survive, we want our retailers to still be strong. And so it was how can we add something to our retailers as opposed to like, blow everything out?
Brett Thornton: Yeah, I love that. So you know, getting into a little bit of the stories you know, I always like to start ask, asking something just entertaining or funny and you guys have obviously worked with it for a long time. Is there any like one story that Do you guys find yourself telling like every time you all get together for dinner or something that you love?
Shana Rocheleau: Probably that wasn’t the one we thought it would for this. Yeah, no, actually, Holly reminded me of a really funny part of the story, because we kind of got your questions a little bit confused. So we read, we read the question of failure, and we had our own failure story. And then we realized, well, mine’s a little bit funny. So I’ll tell that perfect. So um, you know, I just briefly mentioned that now we have a mattress called the M three. The M three was preceded by the m one and m two. And there’s a reason for that, because they didn’t work quite as well. And so when we start off to develop our mattress, we almost sort of, in that sense, like we knew where we were going, but we didn’t know how to get there. So we started trying to like put things together and design things that our own way. And we ended up introducing the m one and at the time, the M 1x. And those were our first mattresses and I was responsible for building those. And I don’t know, they were put together like I don’t know, I had some dream, and I stuck the fabrics together, and they didn’t match one was green one was purple. And, you know, they were they were interesting in their own rights. But they didn’t work together on the retail floor. And we were trying to explain to people like how do we you know how we wanted to see these sold. And it just didn’t even work with our own selling process, because our own selling process was about getting someone fit and having a product that was available on different profiles and that everything looked the same. And so then here with these two totally different mattresses. So finally, blessedly like those two went away. And the M three came about, which is truly you know, our flagship mattress, and that is a true mattress where you can personalize your own side. And then most recently, we filled in the price points beneath that with the S bed collection. And that followed more of our process where they look the same, and they sell different price points in different fields within a collection. So I think our first mattresses were a failure, but they were needed to get us to where we are today in the in adding mattresses as a meaningful category to our business. And then Holly reminded me of a funny story attached to that.
Holly Adorno: I was gonna say, I think the best part is like we were so fortunate to have Shana like running around the showroom with a little sewing kit, because she’s like, the most amazing, so wherever. And so you never had to worry about anything being out of place because she was going to do that. And then, you know, we were really good at that gear poking fun of ourselves. Like no one can no one can poke fun at us, like we could poke fun of ourselves. And I remember, you know, us all showing up with these little fish bowls at Vegas market in our showroom in July all these little fish bowls with all these little beta fish in it and assure him that was freezing cold because we were going to poke fun at ourselves saying our mattresses were in beta testing for so long. So we had all little beta fish all over the show. Yeah, up to and including we had to send the beta fish home with our ambassadors because the showroom was so cold that we’re afraid that we’re going to die in the night. We don’t know be harmed in the introduction of bed gear mattresses for sure.
Brett Thornton: That would have been such a funny like PR story though, like bender kills 150 database on Vegas showroom. Oh, my goodness, is good stuff. So what do you think within that story? That was I love that. Like, what were the biggest learnings in that failure, though? You know, like, what did you realize when you’re doing it? Is it just that you had to have the look unique? Or was there anything internal to that you guys realized like, okay, we need to make a big shift, you know, when we move forward?
Shana Rocheleau: Yeah, we realized that we needed to focus on what our unique strength is, which is personalization. Because I think we were trying to make mattresses almost like items, we felt we could add some different features and different benefits. But at the end of the day, it didn’t deliver on the promise of personalization. And when we look today at like, where do we focus every time as bed gear, it’s always about that personalization. So it isn’t just like, we have our unique technologies. But at the same time, we really tried to bring them together under that benefit that we can sell in personalization. And so I think we didn’t know how to do that when we first got mattresses, but now I think we you know, we iterated and we learned and that’s where we really hang our hat every time now is this fulfilling that mission that we have?
Brett Thornton: Nice, I love that. And I like the backstory too and I can see you running around trying to like fix things and so because it’s always funny how I make
Shana Rocheleau: nine mattresses a day because that’s all I could assemble before the show.
Brett Thornton: It’s always funny because you know, there’s what people see in the showrooms and that goes for any industry, you know, whether it’s a fashion show or whatever, you know, like it’s always the same thing of like the production you see is one thing. But then behind the scenes, it’s almost comical, like people that do it always like if you had any idea the chaos that was happening, like 20 minutes before you open the story now, to get it to look this way, I’m sure, especially with you guys with how much you put into your spaces. I’m sure it’s always like a little bit of crazy.
Holly Adorno: I think that’s where we coined the phrase that market of retail theatre. Remember, we did the whole, we did a whole presentation around retail theatre, and I’m pretty sure that that’s where that came from. Today.
Brett Thornton: Ah, yeah, so for those who aren’t familiar in the in the mattress furniture industry, we have our world furniture markets in Las Vegas, and it’s twice a year. And so a lot of the most of the big wholesale brands have booths. So they have big floor displays, or whatever it is, and you go into their booth and you have, you know, meetings and you set up and you buy your products and all that stuff. And so beggars famous for always having the coolest I’d say displays or like really like just different unique things. And of all the years I mean, there’s been some really funny ones like the guy that was like the hardcore sales person, a little room and you would kind of go through but do you guys have any one favorite market kind of, you know, strategy that you ever did?
Shana Rocheleau: Thank goodness. He was a classic though, I think I love the fit one though I love the I love the showroom that look like you were walking into a sneaker shop, only everything was white. And it was all the white sneakers. And the guy would try to hand you a size 12 and say, well, this is free. And you were like, Well, okay, but what am I gonna do with the size 12. And so I think that was really my favorite. Like, when I look at this photos, I was like, Wow, that was a cool space. Yeah, that was cool. I remember that one. What about you Hol?
Holly Adorno: I think a part of the whole part of it is just really how our retailers didn’t know that that was like a part of the, the experience that we were giving them, you know, so they walked into that one room that was like this, you know, crazy salesman of some sort, and always having like a theme behind it. But really speaking to what the industry was doing. And then for them to then walk into, like what the future of really what we saw was cool. So having that extra space was priceless. We have some really good videos, some customers that are like, No, no, we’re good. It’s okay. Like, we don’t really want any of that. And we were like die on the inside. Because it was just such a fun way for us to kind of just experience something totally different with our retailers, you know, when they’re just so serious and just kind of, you know, kind of just break out of that and have a little bit of fun, right?
Brett Thornton: Oh, for sure. And so, so that kind of goes into the funny the failures or whatever. But what about success? You know, in your guys’ last decade, you know, what were a story or two around moments when you guys were like, Whoa, this is actually going really well.
Holly Adorno: Yeah, so I think one of the things that, you know, became very evident to us is, you know, when we first started as a brand, you know, or, you know, as a company, you know, building a brand. We, we interviewed so many people that were so excited about what our vision was and what our company was doing and what the direction was. And, you know, so excited about the products and the offerings and how we were doing things differently. And really grassroots effort, we were kind of really changing looking to change, the experience of retail and the way people looked at sleep. And I think that along the way we mistook that passion for, did they really have the skill set? So I think that we struggled along the way and really trying to figure out, did we hire someone who’s super excited and passionate? Or do we hire someone that’s really capable of getting us to the next level and taking that role, and really becoming, you know, someone that can say, hey, these are, these are all the ideas that are going to get us into the next generation. And so, you know, to kind of just share with you what we did beyond that is that we kind of took a look at who are the people within our organization that are really thriving, where those individuals were the we did assessment tests and tried to figure out was there a commonality amongst these people who were all very independent thinkers, but also really passionate and really making a mark on what we were doing as we were growing the brand. And it became very evident to us that a lot of those qualities were very similar. And that’s where we evolved to having, you know, our core values which are hungry, humble, curious, and clever. And it’s something we talk about every single day, and that didn’t come about is just a measure of trying to put something in place and fitting everyone to what that is. But it gave us the ability to recognize that we were a performance company that we not only had to have tremendous performance products, but we all also needed to have people that performed too. And the only way that was going to happen is if we looked at what was the working model that was that had gotten us to where we are and how is that going to get us into the future. 10 years 20 years down the road. So I think that that’s something that really was a challenge for us and, you know, certainly made some mistakes along the way. But it allowed us to help correct it as well, too. And I think because of that we have, you know, just a tremendous amount of people on our team that, that not only are passionate but you know, are kind of a, maybe crazy and mythic misfits, like the rest of us, right.
Brett Thornton: Oh, go for it.
Shana Rocheleau: I was just gonna add that we have a fifth value that we don’t talk about as much, but it’s committed. And just to tag on to that, I mean, I feel the same way like you don’t go to one of our showrooms and not feel like that commitment, but it’s also something rather not because we played around with the word [inaudible] and one of the words we looked at community. And so just recently, I went out with a whole bunch of people in our office, we had one of the several events that we do, where we actually go out and do different give back type events. So you know, we are on the payroll, like, able to leave for an afternoon or morning to go do something in the community. In this case, we were doing a beach cleanup, and it was just so great to like, get out with the team and the office. And in another environment, doing something just fulfilling like that, where you actually get to go make something cleaner and nicer on the beach that you enjoy, so and you just when you’re out with your coworkers, you really do feel that cultural fit. And so I just wanted to throw that fifth value on.
Brett Thornton: Oh, I love it. I love it. It’s a good segue too, because, you know, I’m curious, as you know, when you talk about, hey, we identified, you know, these different traits that, you know, we’re looking for. And we’ve spent a long, long time fine tuning in, and we’ve built this really great team, you know, within that team, right? Like, if we go to LinkedIn right now, and we put bed gear, you put people the algorithm and LinkedIn is gonna sort people by their perceived pile. That’s how LinkedIn works, right? So if we do bed gear, and you pull it up in your top list, and as you go down, you guys have a ton of diversity, male, female, you know, so how did you guys align and get there to have a lot of especially female executives and leaders, when overall, our industry doesn’t look like that? You know, most companies? It’s 90/10, 80/20. Right? So it’s nowhere near a balanced leadership look like? How did you guys get to where you are?
Shana Rocheleau: Yeah, well, we always do say that if you want more women, if you want more diversity, you just simply have to hire them. So I think that’s one. One thing people always say is like, oh, how can me, how can I get more women, my company? Well, you go out and you look for them. And you network with that idea in mind, and you let your other women that, you know, know, to spread the word. And really, you also open your mind up to transferable skills, and the fact that you can coach up. So there’s a lot of people in our company that came from around the fashion industry. And because we are a fashion enabled brand, they’re attracted to it, we’re not just doing the same white goods, commodity stuff, driving price down looking for, you know, mass distribution, we’re looking for uniqueness and specialty. And so we attract that same thing. And so when you can learn to leverage that within your company, and then you can open your door to a more diverse workforce, and especially women coming back to work, and being willing to say, yeah, sure, maybe you didn’t go, you know, through the traditional career path, but I can see how what you were doing before you went and had children is applicable, and I can make it work, then that’s what allows you to really then grow more and more of that, you know, that diversity in your company, and to help them feel comfortable and help everyone stay and make it scalable.
Brett Thornton: Awesome, I love that. You know, I think I think you just kind of hit on a really good point, too, which is like, you know, Nothing happens without like effort in design, you know, and so like, you know, there’s a while I think one of the issues that our industry had for a long time is I think there’s just a lot of people that talk but not a lot of people that are just taking action. So to your point, you’re like, hey, you know, if you’re if your industry is male dominated, it’s going to continue to attract males. So unless you say, Okay, I need to divert and go this way, but you’re not going to be able to pull from the industry. If it’s already 80% men, then then you’re just gonna keep pulling from the same pool. Right? Like, so I love what you said, which is look for transferable skills. Right? Because like, it’s not, you know, I mean, hate to break it to anybody. But you know, we’re not doctors in this industry. No, we’re not brain surgeons, like, you know, we’re selling, we’re marketing, we’re doing cool. Like, just these are very transferable skills. And our industry is a lot of fun. It’s very, like close knit. You know, there’s a lot of bright people and most people that once they’re in the industry are like, Oh, this is a great place to be. I think the issue is that we have a marketing problem. Because I think if you’re on the outside looking in, you know, you’re thinking like mattresses like I don’t want why would I want to work in that field? Like why would I be appealed to this, you know, and I think that’s our one of the things we got to figure out, like, how do we appeal to a younger generation and appeal to everybody, no matter what the diversity is the background there, you know, like, whatever it is, to make sure everyone understands, hey, this is a really fun, cool place to work. Because our problem and I think what one of the reason that the DTC brands did so well, I think over the last decade is that not only was it you know, the market just so you know, the same and kind of, I don’t want to use the term old, but just it was doing the same thing for 30 years. So it was kind of ripe for the taking, but also DTC brands came in and they weren’t industry people, they were Silicon Valley, and they were diverse, and they were male, and female, and they were all of this ease, and they were actually representing the market with which we sell to. And I think that came through in marketing and messaging and things were and then all of a sudden, you know, these traditional companies were like, oh, they’re just a flash in the pan. And I was like, No, they’re not, because they’re actually going to where the market is, and you guys are over here kind of stuff. And I think, you know, you guys did the same thing, you know, to the kind of the accessory market originally.
Holly Adorno: And I think that one of the things too, is that, you know, we’re very fortunate that we have, you know, that we have a founder that has made a conscious choice to surround himself by very, you know, a personality strong, you know, women that have an opinion that, you know, are you know, are not going to laugh at a joke, if it’s not funny. I mean, we’re gonna sit in those tough meetings. And, I mean, if the jokes funny, we’ll laugh but, but we’re not, you know, we’re not just, you know, around to be like, Oh, yeah, that sounds like a great idea. That sounds like a great idea. We we’d much as an organization prefer to have very spirited conversation, and, you know, almost to a certain extent, strike and emotion. So that this way, you know, we can we can have a voice and what’s going on? And so we’re very fortunate for that. But I think, you know, the other piece of it is that, you know, we do have to make a conscious effort. I mean, if you think about all the women in our organization and all the careers that they had, it’s a tremendous amount of years. And I would assume, if we look across, like some of the other companies that you’ve been doing podcasts with, there’s a lot of industry experience, but, you know, we have to do a very good job of lifting each other up. You know, it’s, it’s something so important, you know, like, we do something at bed gear, we do Friday affirmations, sometimes we have a struggle, finding something, that your hair looks pretty one day, find something to really like, lift everyone up. And I think that, you know, that makes a real difference. You know, I’m proud of that, too, you know, just of how, you know, if you see us together, we actually genuinely really like each other, we get along, not to say that we agree every day. But it’s a great work environment from that aspect.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, I love that. And I wanted to ask, you know, you mentioned in your intro, but like, tell me a little bit more about this, this mentoring that you were doing.
Holly Adorno: So I became a part of an um executive networking organization. And through that, you know, they also recognized that they really were struggling, getting, you know, women to be a part of that. And, you know, when I first started three years ago, I was the only woman in the actual group. And this isn’t just our industry, it’s actually outside of the industry purposefully. There’s no one in the group that is, you know, from an industry that’s similar to yours to this way, you can kind of talk through a lot of different things and get really good advice from other executives of companies, something that Shana was doing. And, you know, I was super excited to be able to join as well. And through that, they recognized that there that there really wasn’t a great way of, you know, getting these emerging leaders, these younger women in all different types of industries to have a support system, that might be a similar view, that they might have to also give them just some perspective on some things and just feel some support a lot of which is outside of an industry that has a lot of women in it. So it’s been really great. I feel like we were making a lot of progress on a lot of different things. And there’s a lot of days that her industry is very different than mine, that I don’t, that I might not have the answers or the expertise. But the really beautiful thing is that I was able to even reach out to people within our organization for help to say, Hey, I really want to give her some really solid advice. How do we do that? Because, you know, just outside of my area of expertise, so I’m really excited about it. You know, I’m hoping to do more of it. We actually are talking internally a bed gear of, you know, putting something together, just from a mentoring perspective, because I’ve always had a lot of that. And I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of men throughout my career that have been very supportive of wanting me to be really successful in an industry that had almost no men in it. And I’ve been pretty lucky with that. So I’m, you know, just trying to do my part, right? Yeah, no, I love it! My daughter who’s 20 years old. I want you know, I want her to see, you know, what that looks like too. And I think another thing, just in terms of wanting to mentor is, you know, I always wanted to be a working mom. And that wasn’t looked upon kindly. You know, years ago today, it’s so much more acceptable, and you know, everyone’s doing it. But finding that work life balance is tough. And I think it’s important for our younger generation to see that we can do it all we really can’t. Yeah, no, absolutely. I love that! [inaudible] sleep. Although if I sleep for hours, it’s very restful, I get tremendous amount of rest and recovery. No question.
Brett Thornton: Little plug. Yeah, I love that, you know, and at the end of the day, I mean, I think, you know, I think that’s, for me, at least anyways, you know, I was, I’ve been doing these different, you know, podcast episodes, and talking to so many different people, you know, there’s definitely a strong sense of, I think, hope that, you know, we’re heading in the right direction, because there are so many amazing organizations that are that are trying to push the envelope, and they’re trying to be, you know, more inclusive, and they’re trying to better job at hiring and diversity, and like, all these different things, but I think that part of that is there’s a company perspective, but then there’s also the individuals. And I think that, you know, mentoring people, specifically young, like our younger generations coming in the workforce is just going to be huge, because, you know, they’re facing just so many different challenges that we didn’t face, you know, and that’s every generation, you know, and, and the, the shoppers are changing, like, almost every six months, you know, like, the environment that you work in all everything is becoming so digital, it’s like, so different. But at the end of the day, you know, our kids have grown up in a world that is so different than what we grew up in. And, you know, they are seeking transparency at such a high level, like way more than I would have never thought about it, because everything was kind of what you saw as a kid was just what it was. But now, you know, we went through a phase of everything being fake. And now we’re kind of coming back around to this transparency. It’s the reason why stories on Instagram or whatever social platform you follow is so big, because stories are at least a little bit more real, you know, someone in the moment like, it’s not a stage is not as produced, it’s like, hey, that’s actually happening, you know, and what’s cool is that companies are now starting to embrace this. And I think for our industry, specifically, when you think of like mattress and furniture, it’s like, you know, I think the more real and transparent we can be with specially like, you know, kids growing up now and young people in our 20s, who are starting to get the job to show them that like, actually, this is a really progressive industry, from the, from the product standpoint, it’s just has never been from a leadership standpoint, you know, and so we’re trying to push the envelope. And I think, you know, companies like yours, and some of these other ones I’ve interviewed are doing a really good job. But I think to get to the root because, like Mike, you said, we’ve got to impact one person at a time. And so finding these young people who are still impressionable, and like, still not sure what they’re gonna do, I think that’s how we get the next really amazing CEO in 10 or 20 years, you know, like, because you get them now, if that makes sense. Yep, I agree. Nice. So tell me one thing that I was curious about. So if you look at bed gear from the outside in, so everybody has these different titles, right. So there’s, you know, quarterback, player development, coach, you know, so it’s not your typical, you know, Vice President of this and sales rep of this, right. So what’s the kind of mentality behind that?
Shana Rocheleau: I would say it’s always Lent, or sort of derived from that sports theme. Because we do believe that when you hit the field, you’re hitting the field as a team, and you don’t win, except by playing as a team. So and it even goes so far that we sometimes have to, like, train against that idea of teamwork by reminding people like also, you can’t just like, go out and cover someone else’s position. Like, the most important thing about being on the team is also knowing your position and covering your position. Because if you’re the goalie and all of a sudden you run up to like the offensive line, you’re not there when like the shot comes into your spot. So, you know, we find that the sports analogies work really well to help explain like, what we’re trying to do and because we are competitive, but not in a cover away, it kind of like also matches our culture. So yeah, a lot of it came from sports. And our quarterback was legitimately a quarterback in college. So it’s very dear to just our personal passions to.
Brett Thornton: Awesome. I love that I’ve it’s funny, because, you know, I’ve like I said, What do you guys over the years off and on and I’ve just never asked that I’ve always thought about because I see especially on LinkedIn, you know, I think you guys have done a really good job at having all of your different, you know, reps out there or coaches or whatever who are working with the different retailers. I’ve noticed you guys have made a push online where they’re always posting like, where they’re going and the teams and whatever like, what was the idea behind that? Is that just to get bigger out so that people understand it’s a core organization or group has to work? Or was there? Or is it just kind of organic?
Holly Adorno: So yeah, it was actually very organic. Those are our sleep coaches, that’s the team that, you know, that I’m responsible for. And, you know, the idea behind it was they just wanted to kind of share some of the really cool stuff that they’re doing out in the field. And, you know, it started out as a small idea, then, really, they took a personal interest in, you know, wanting to figure out what the good hashtags were, and how could they be relevant. And, you know, then it became kind of a mission of, you know, how many people viewed it, and how many people are liking it. But I think it’s a really great way for them to, you know, kind of share what they’re experiencing with the retailer, you know, some of these things that are happening on the front lines that are, you know, just inspirational stories, and you know, where they get those aha moments, you know, to recognize that they also all live in other parts of the country, so they don’t have someone to work with every single day. So they’re very independent travelling to these places, and spending time alone. But it’s kind of that commonality of them bringing that together, and, you know, being proud of each other and being like, hey, that’s the most, I’m gonna try that over here, too. This is so cool. And look what’s going on over at this retailer. And so they’re just, they just, it’s not a part really of their job description, as much as it is something that they’re just super excited and passionate to do. And it’s gotten a lot of attraction, and I love it, I think it’s great to see it.
Brett Thornton: No [inaudible]
Shana Rocheleau: It’s nice for us to be back in the office to because we don’t see the sleep coaches so much, because they all always are out in the field. So in a way, it’s like a little bit of insight to their personalities and the content that they’re always creating. And we get to learn a lot too, from just like watching them. So I love to watch their LinkedIn posts and their videos on their little car recordings.
Holly Adorno: I’m legit. Nobody’s policing it, like it goes up. And it’s, you know, it’s like, ah, we’re like, Alright, that’s cool. You know, like you said, before, you got to kind of live in the moment, everything can’t be like this picture. Perfect thing. So, no, I’m very proud of the work they’ve done. I think it’s great.
Brett Thornton: Yeah, I love it. You know, I see all that stuff. So you know, I think that one of the things that’s so different now than even literally five years ago, and definitely 10 years ago, and any time before that, is that, you know, there was always this mindset, I think forever, for 50 60 years of like corporate America company first, like you, you know, you toe, the company line, and it’s this whole, everything’s produced and very, you know, got to go through 12 levels, you know, and all these things. And that’s work. But at the end of the day, unfortunately, Now, the problem is that by the time you do all that, whatever point you’re trying to make, or it’s already you’ve missed the time, because everything is now so like, you know, if it’s on Twitter, right now, it’s on Tick Tock now, so you miss if you’re trying to do something funny, in two weeks, it’s already past with wave of whatever, now you missed it. So you can’t do that really, you can’t produce at that level, you know, for daily content. And the other thing is that, you know, I’ve read a lot of articles lately, they’ve been really spot on, which is they’re explaining the importance of individuals within organizations building their personal brands on sites like LinkedIn, and tik tok, or whatever, because what it does is, and they’re saying that companies should, should not be looking down on that, but they should be encouraging it and doubling down I mean, like, Yeah, go for it, because all that’s doing is elevating the person. And then the company is attached to the person. You know, so like, I like to use my case, I know so many people and have so many connections that, you know, if I try to recruit somebody for avocado, you know, maybe they take the job, or maybe they don’t, but they’ll always respond. Every time, right? Because they know I’m not just some weirdo like, oh, yeah, that’s Brett. I’ve seen him in a million videos and whatever. Like, he seems like a nice person, like, all at least respond to you, you know what I mean? So you have this cachet where you can reach out to people and you can build relationships, and hey, I know, I know this person, and you know, that person. So hey, we can communicate. But if you don’t do any of that, you then you can, right, then you’re just some like, Who is this person, you know, like trying to reach out to me and it doesn’t work, you know, and so it’s just a really cool thing. So from the outside looking in, I feel like Oh, you guys have done a great job of like, having a team like, understand that. That’s, that’s all important, you know. And the other last piece I will say is that, you know, everybody likes to have a spotlights in time. So if you go to a retailer, and have a great visit, and you post a picture and you tag 10 people, it may not seem like a big deal but for the 10 people working on this random store in the middle of wherever it is big deal because they’ve probably never been tagged in photo right on LinkedIn like so maybe it has only 500 views but that’s still like Well, that’s cool. I was in this thing. Now that person is for sure. Like gonna go the extra mile for the rep. You know what I mean? Like that’s just how it all works, you know, and I feel like so many companies are kind of missing the ball there.
Holly Adorno: I still love when people tagged me in something like I even feel good about that. Who doesn’t? Right?
Brett Thornton: Well get ready when this podcast comes out. It will be all over. Everywhere [inaudible].
Brett Thornton: Alright, so hey, I’m literally we’re over time I always go over, but I will say last just one question each. So imagine Holly’s daughter, it’s like two more years, she’s graduating, right? And she’s like, man, I want to go into business. You know, what is like one piece of advice that you’ve learned over your career, like something that you maybe wish you knew when you were 22 that you would give?
Holly Adorno: You know, I was actually thinking about myself, and you know, like, not just my younger days, but some of the things that I had done and the advice that I would share to not even just my daughter, but you know, you know, younger women, or even just anyone graduating from college right now, I think that the things that stood out for me the most were those times where you really felt it in your gut, and you knew it was the right thing to do, but there was a lot of risk behind it. And it was like that risk reward thing. And you said to yourself, hmm, you know, this is going to be chancy. Am I really going to be able to make this happen? And I just always say that the risk is, you know, is always going to be there, no matter what you do, especially if you’re doing something that, you know, might potentially feel comfortable, and it’s this big change, I always just think to myself, just stick with your gut, because it will always tell you what to do. I just think there’s so much there that just says, you know what, you’re going to be okay, if you do this, and that. I mean, I’ll reference, you know, bed gear. I mean, I remember going to the office in Long Island, and being there and then not really being it wasn’t a brand, there wasn’t like one exciting thing at the office. I mean, it was grey carpet, grey walls, it was an office that spoke to the fact that it was a business. But I just really remember leaving there thinking to myself, I can feel that something very special is going to happen here. And it was a risk because I was very happy where I was. It wasn’t like I was looking for something, I just remember my gut saying, and this is the right to do at this moment in time. And I think that if you go with your heart and your gut, I think it’ll always lead you down the right road, it might be a little scary for a little while, but eventually, it’ll take you where you need to go.
Shana Rocheleau: Yeah, I would pile on a little bit and say, yeah, my advice would be just start. Like you said, Brett, like, there’s so much on social media that’s created this idea of, you have to go and craft the perfect life and the perfect job, and that all has to be now. But in fact, you know, when you look for that cultural fit, and you just start anywhere on something, it’s just gonna, that momentum starts to pick up and work for you. Where if you’re waiting and looking for that perfect thing, it’s going to, it’s actually gonna be a lot harder to find. And I would say that also like that advice just even resonates so true for me now, because whenever there was a project, I’m like, putting off procrastinating, it builds up so much more like pressure in your mind than just starting and doing it. And when you start, you realize, oh, that’s not so bad. Or actually I can, you know, get this done and figure this out. So, just start, that’s my advice.
Brett Thornton: Love it. Yeah. Love both those, you know, and I think that, you know, it applies, I think, to everyone in every role, but I think especially, you know, to kids, you think about someone coming out of college, or even your point, Holly, someone who’s 25, 27, and Holly Adorno0. you know, I think there’s so much pressure, you know, from, you know, this phone to like, Oh, I have to have this life or everyone in you know, from my school is doing XYZ, when the reality is, they’re not just making it look that way, you know, and I think that the key is, like you said is, you start, but then when you start I think the cool part is you understand that, like, I’m just going to keep pulling things from everything I do, I’m gonna learn this, I’m gonna learn this, I’m going to learn this. And that’s always been my advice to people is like, get involved in as many things as you possibly can. And if someone ever gives you a choice between the big corporate company and like a small startup, even though the startups a huge risk, do that, because what you’ll do there is you’ll have to wear 100 hats, and you’ll learn how to do all kinds of stuff, and maybe you’ll fail, but you’ll fail. And you’ll know a ton, you know, versus the other, you know, which they can they all have opportunities, and they all work for different people. But I just think to your point, you know, I think it’s about relationships, I think it’s about who you meet, and not just who you meet, but would that person ever be willing to take a shot to help you out? You know, and so I think in our industry specifically, I think the cool part is that now because of sites like LinkedIn, or whatever, there’s nothing stopping you from making so many different connections in our industry, because you just never know when that’s going to come back to help you out or vice versa, you know, and so just like this, right? Like the whole podcast I’ve been doing is all based on connections and people I’ve either met or friends or friends, right. And that’s just how I think our industry is set up. And so I think, you know, the advice you guys have been given on this episode is fantastic. So I can’t wait for people to hear it. And so yeah, I just want to end by saying thank you guys so much. I know you’re both really busy and so I appreciate you coming on and I can’t wait to get it out there so people can get to know you guys better.
Shana Rocheleau and Holly Adorno: Thanks, Brett.
Brett Thornton: Yeah. So cool. So I will talk to you guys soon. You guys are both going to be a market. Yep. Yeah. Awesome. And then I will see you guys in a couple weeks.
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