James Higgins, Founder of luxury, ethical bedding brand, Ethical Bedding, took part in the latest series of Dragons Den.
On the popular BBC One series, James showcased the properties and potential of the eucalyptus-based, sustainable bedding, gaining the attention of Touker Suleyman, who offered a 50% stake in the business. However, James boldly declined the offer, favouring his belief in purpose over profit.
Here, James provides insight into the story behind Ethical Bedding, the importance of purpose over profit, his experience on Dragons Den and the next steps for the business:
What was the inspiration behind creating Ethical Bedding?
‘After working in FinTech for many years, I realised that my work was no longer filling me with joy and began impacting my health. After some soul-searching, I realised I wanted to be a part of something that added value and spread positivity into the world. I established Ethical Bedding as a brand built on sustainability, high quality, and positivity.
The business world is brutal, with a dog-eat-dog mentality which is more focused on stats, turnover, and competition, than purpose, message and adding value to the world. I wanted to combine my love for nature and experience in business to create a brand with true purpose – which sees beyond business strategy and politics, to the bigger picture.
By utilising the raw ingredients from mother earth, I discovered the incredible properties of eucalyptus and launched a line of products using it as a base textile. I recognised its potential to revolutionise the bedding industry as a fabric of the future and launched Ethical Bedding as a changemaker in luxury, sustainable bedding’.
What sets your products apart?
‘We provide a luxury range of bedding, bedding accessories and fragrances, developed with sustainability in mind. Our products are made to enhance sleep not just work as a sustainable alternative – we don’t give you tofu and call it steak – our products are designed for premium comfort and to ensure the best sleeping conditions.
Harnessing the properties of eucalyptus, our range exceeds traditional cotton-based sleep products, offering increased breathability, softness and freshness.
We believe in our products, our duty and mission for the planet and that’s why our range is designed to be more than just luxurious and sustainable; it’s made to increase comfort while improving wellness and creating a positive impact on the natural world.’
What does purpose over profit mean to you and how are you achieving this?
‘At Ethical Bedding we are committed to purpose over profit, meaning our business mission is not built around what we can gain, but what we can provide and how we can improve and influence the world.
Our purpose is driven by sustainability – to create a luxury, ethical and sustainable bedding brand. As such, we ensure that we only use materials with the highest eco-friendly credentials, insisting on complete transparency in both supply chain and environmental impact, being committed to offsetting every atom of carbon.
We have already achieved BCorp status meaning that not only are all our products manufactured from 100% sustainably grown eucalyptus, but we also maintain a 100% ethical production and supply chain. We are also the only Vegan Society-approved bedding company in the world.
Furthermore, we currently pledge 1% of our annual income to global sustainability initiatives and plant one tree for every purchase made – with the aim of planting a total of 100,000 new trees by 2025.’
Tell us about your experience on Dragons Den?
‘Starting out on Dragons Den, I had established a line in my head which I refused to cross – I would never sacrifice my principles or the company’s mission, for money.
Overall, I enjoyed the experience of being on Dragons Den and the platform it provided for spreading the message of Ethical Bedding. Ultimately, my mission in taking part on Dragons Den was never to just secure whatever money I could for the sake of having a certain name as an investor. I have always believed and maintained that I only want to partner with people who want to be in the business and build something special.
Although I received an offer from Touker Suleyman, I just didn’t sense that he wanted to be part of the business, and it’s far more important to me that I only get into business with someone who understands the scope and worth of my brand. It’s not a cash-grab opportunity. I only want to partner with someone that truly believes in the long-term vision of Ethical Bedding.
My message has always been one of purpose over profit, and just because these dragons may have a bigger and louder voice than mine, does not mean I should sacrifice my beliefs and throw myself at their feet. I live by the motto “if it isn’t an emphatic yes, then it’s a firm no”. By making a ludicrous stake offer – you have not understood the worth of the business and its importance, so that’s a firm no in my mind.’
What is next for the brand and the company’s future?
‘After a disgraceful editing job and framing of myself and the company, we nevertheless remain resilient in our pursuit of sharing the importance of our message and the benefits of our products. We continue to showcase to the world’s audience that what you put into the world needs to contain real worth – not just monetary value.
We are constantly expanding our range and most recently, launched our brand-new NatureCore Luxe Mattress, which has been designed to provide maximum comfort while ensuring a minimal impact on the environment. We have many new products and campaigns which we will also be sharing soon.
Sleep is important – sustainability is paramount – so we continue to push to change the mindset of others and showcase the importance of sustainable sleep. In the end, I believe we can all sleep soundly at night knowing that we are doing the best for our planet.’