Getting Cozy with Ariel Kaye, Founder of Parachute
Whether you’ve had a looong night or have a big day ahead, sleep is important. A good night’s worth can not only effect your mood and productivity on a particular day, but is also crucial to your overall health and happiness in the long run. There’s no shortage of gimmicks and products capitalizing on this, not least of which are the myriad luxury sheet options out there. Confusing thread counts and astronomical prices do not guarantee those coveted Z’s though. Parachute founder Ariel Kaye found blissful sleep by way of Italian sheets at an Amalfi Coast hotel and when she couldn’t recreate the experience stateside she started her own line dedicated to the concept that “you shouldn’t lose sleep trying to get the best sleep.” Parachute eliminates middlemen and the extra ensuing costs associated with them to bring their quality offerings directly to consumers AND they donate proceeds to Nothing But Nets in the process. This summer we’re featuring some of their bedding at the MBH and they’re hosting a screening series on our lawn. Ariel gives us all the dreamy details below…
Was Parachute really inspired by one amazing night of sleep you experienced at a hotel on the Amalfi Coast?
It’s true. Years ago while traveling through Italy, I found myself in a picturesque hotel on the Amalfi coast. After a long day, I got to my room ready to unwind. I pulled back the duvet, arranged the pillows to my liking, crawled into bed…and found perfection that I didn’t know existed. Those sumptuous sheets were softer than anything I had ever experienced.
I returned home from Italy on a quest for that perfection. It was a search that left me frustrated, confused and disappointed: would I really have to spend a month of rent to recreate my Italian sleep experience?
They say if you can’t find it, create it. And so I did. Parachute was imagined as a way to deliver premium quality bedding at an accessible price. To put an end to confusing marketing gimmicks like thread count, and to create new options – such as bundles without a top sheet – that have never previously existed.
As someone who prefers sleeping sans top sheet, I think your customized bundles are genius! You’ve also done away with puzzling thread count concerns – how much does thread count actually count?
We are programmed to associate large numbers with quality, but when it comes to bedding this is largely a marketing ploy. The quality of the thread and the manufacturing process are what matters the most. There are many types of cotton, but it’s the length of the fiber that dictates quality. Longer is better, so always look for long strand cotton. At Parachute we use Egyptian long-staple fibers and the highest quality cotton. This caliber of cotton results in bedding that is softer and will last much longer than sheets made from a lower-quality fiber with a higher thread count.
Don’t know if you’ve been binge watching Seinfeld on Hulu like the rest of us, but I must beg the inevitable question: to tuck or not to tuck?
Ha – not to tuck! I’m very casual and prefer a comfy and cozy bed, not a super buttoned up look. I swear by making my bed every morning – everyone from feng shui devotees to sleep researchers have celebrated its benefits (in fact, we wrote an entire blog post about it). However, I don’t want to have to do work to get back into bed at bedtime.
On a more serious note, how did you end up deciding to combine traditional artisanal craftsmanship with such a modern and transparent business model?
My vision for Parachute was largely defined by my desire to improve the terrible experiences I’ve had buying bedding. I saw a real opportunity in the market to create a premium quality product at an accessible price. I also realized that bedding was a very stale industry that had not evolved or been liberated by the internet. Today’s shoppers want an enjoyable purchasing experience as much as they crave a product that is made well. I’m proud to say we are the first bedding brand to put the customer first. We listen to their suggestions and can adapt quickly using their feedback – traditional brands can’t do that. We also engage with our community directly; we publish a blog with helpful tips on caring for your bedding and also yourself, like how to sleep better on an airplane, how to use a sleeptracker, how to interpret your dreams, etc.
In my search for manufacturing partners, I discovered that the world’s best linens are made in Italy. Parachute is manufactured in Tuscany by true artisans who have been weaving world class bedding for over 60 years. Their passion for linens is demonstrated through their attention to detail and impeccable workmanship. You’ll feel the difference.
The charity aspect was always part of the plan. Giving back has been an integral part of my life, starting with my upbringing. My mom works in education – specifically educating teachers on how to incorporate service into their curriculum – so building a socially responsible business was fundamental. It’s essential that Parachute delivers great sleep to our customers, and in turn, provides safe sleep to those in need. Every 60 seconds, a child dies from malaria in Africa. Malaria is a preventable and treatable disease, which makes it particularly tragic. For every Venice bedding set sold, Parachute has committed to sending one life-saving malaria prevention bed net. You can also join in our efforts to raise awareness and make an impact by contributing a $10 donation to Nothing But Nets at checkout.
Stating a company’s commitment to charity often puts it under a very informed and scrutinizing microscope. Are there any challenges in maintaining an ethical stance while running a luxury brand?
There have not been many challenges. We are proud to uphold high standards when it comes to quality and production. Transparency is critical and imperative for us throughout the process. We opted to be Oeko-Tex certified, which is something that I am very proud of. Oeko-Tex is a certification system for textile producers operated by a global network of laboratories. Certification is only granted when the fabrics pass strict tests for substances that are prohibited or regulated by law, chemicals that are known to be harmful to health, and other parameters to safeguard health. I’m interested in building a brand that gives back, is sustainable and positioned to last a long time.
Speaking of luxury, Parachute is hosting a weekly screening series at the Montauk Beach House to celebrate being featured in some of our rooms. Decking a lawn out with your pillows and candles sounds pretty lavish – how did the idea for the screening come about and what can we expect from it?
We wanted to create a fun, cozy environment where we could showcase our product in a new and authentic way while providing guests comfort as they enjoy each movie.
Do you have any tips for better sleep when traveling to places that don’t have Parachute bedding?
As someone who loves to travel, learning how to sleep while I am away from home has been vital. Wrapping up in a Parachute Cashmere Throw immediately elevates a plane ride (I inevitably end up throwing it around my shoulders while lounging in the hotel as well. Including items that remind me of home help ease the stress of traveling, too). A Parachute Travel Candle and my favorite teas are the first items I pack in my suitcase. I also always pack an eye mask and relaxing lavender oil to help me wind down and fall asleep more easily.
Lastly, are you a morning person?
I try to be! I make it a priority to get up early. I find that I am much more productive on days where I exercise and eat a good breakfast before work. Starting the day right keeps me energized and focused.