Are you feeling tired and burned out? It may be your flat, worn-out pillow, and one Vancouver-based startup wants to change that! We chatted with Henrie founder Larissa Hildebrandt to find out why the right pillow can make all the difference, and how her sleep products can help. —Noa Nichol
Hi Larissa! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I’m the founder of Henrie, a luxury pillow brand based in Vancouver. I’ve always been a big sleeper and an advocate for taking the time you need to rest and recharge. With Henrie, I’m on a mission to rebrand sleep as a productive activity.
When and why did you launch Henrie? What niche were/are you aiming to fill?
Henrie launched in January of this year, but the journey started back in 2020. I suddenly found myself burnt out, working from home and anxious about how uncertain the world was. Sleep has always been integral to my mental health, so I started looking closely at everything on my bed. I had already been struggling for years to find a good pillow, so it was the final straw when yet another one fell flat after just a few months of use. I didn’t understand why my pillows weren’t lasting, so I started to cut them open and compare the materials inside. Even though the pillows were from different brands, and the materials used different names, inside they were almost identical. I started to research and learned that the synthetic materials I was sleeping on not only had a short shelf life, but they also weren’t doing my neck any favours. I sought out to find the highest-quality pillow on the market but couldn’t find any brands that were completely focused on quality pillows. What I found was that most pillows are made by mattress brands as kind of an add-on product, but not the main event. With Henrie, I wanted to create a pillow that was intentional, and something you would invest in long-term like a quality mattress.
What products do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?
We are serious about pillows so we’re entirely focused on our adjustable pillow. We’re big believers that a pillow should be fitted for the individual sleeper, which is why it’s completely customizable. Henrie arrives with an extra-high loft and comes with a storage bag for any filling you’d like to remove and save for future adjustments (as your needs and preferences change). We took a lot of care to ensure that the pillows are designed to last long-term and use conscious materials, so you can feel good and sleep well, whether that’s tonight or a year from now.
Tell us about the materials testing process for your pillows; you scrutinized more than 100 pillows on the market?! What did you find?
The biggest thing that stood out to me was how confusing it is for consumers to understand the differences between pillows. I found a lot of pillows that were essentially identical but sold at wildly different price points, or had claims of technology that simply wasn’t true. I also learned that not all memory foams are created equal. It’s a common practice to use scrap memory foam, meaning you can’t truly know where it came from or the production practices behind it. We knew we wanted to know with certainty where our materials were coming from and ensure they were produced consciously. To get the long-lasting neck support that we were looking for, we combined a natural fibre called kapok (pronounced “kay-pock”) with a CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam that’s produced on demand for our pillows. Our testing process also reiterated the research on how important it is to find the correctly fitting pillow for you, which is why we made the loft 100% adjustable. A pillow can seem incredible on the shelf, but if your neck is craned upwards all night, it’s not going to work for you.
Is there a sustainability element to your manufacturing process, and the end result?
Sustainability is a key focus in everything that we do, from the materials inside the pillow to the packaging it arrives in. Our memory foam and every fabric (even in our dust bag) carry industry-leading certifications for low emissions and sustainable production. We’re also proud to have replaced polyester stuffing with kapok, a fluffy material that looks similar to cotton but feels much softer. Kapok grows in pods on a specific type of tree (often called the kapok tree), and these trees continue to reproduce the kapok fibre for hundreds of years without human intervention—just rainwater.
Design wise, were aesthetics important, or did performance outweigh looks?
Performance was No. 1 because our main goal is to bring you your best night’s sleep. During the testing process, we gave each pillow several nights of blind testing and scored them on categories like neck support and how well they maintained their shape throughout the night. We also tracked sleep quality through sleep trackers throughout the process. Outside of performance, we scrutinized materials for longevity, sustainability, and allergens. When it came down to aesthetics, we wanted the pillow to look great both in and out of a pillowcase, and I think we achieved that. The pillow holds its own but also looks great as part of a freshly made bed.
Your top expert tips on picking just the right pillow to suit our needs/desires?
Finding the right pillow is very individual and depends on a lot of factors like your sleeping position, mattress, and personal preference. The key thing you want to look for is a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position while you’re sleeping, which is why a side sleeper would need a different sized pillow than a back sleeper. The reality is that you need to spend several nights sleeping on a pillow on your own bed to really know if it’s right for you—which is why so many people end up purchasing the wrong fit, even if they’ve tried it in a mattress store. We tell our customers to take their time with finding their perfect loft. Even a handful of filling can impact how you sleep, but once you find that perfect size it’s incredibly rewarding.
Why is good sleep so darn important?
Sleep is a building block of physical, emotional and mental health. I’m sure most people would agree that they feel better, are more productive, and are in a better mood after a good night’s rest. That’s definitely true for me, and fundamentally why I created Henrie—to bring that feeling to others.
So, what’s your idea of the best sleep ever?!
For me, the best sleep ever starts weeks in advance. I’m a big fan of sleep hygiene and making sure you’re consistent with your sleep routine. My perfect night’s sleep would start with a wind-down routine and a freshly fluffed pillow, then a solid 7.5 hours of interrupted sleep. The cherry on top would be waking naturally right before my alarm. If only that could be every night!
Win! A $199 Henrie Adjustable Pillow!
Congrats Dayanara L. of Calgary, AB, who will receive a $199 Henrie Adjustable Pillow! Please note: if you are the winner, you will receive a DM (direct message) in Instagram directly from @vitadaily.ca. Please be wary of fake accounts, which often use similar handles with an extra or missing letter, number or symbol. We will never ask for a payment or for your credit card number, and we will never ask you to click through a link. If you are unsure whether you have been contacted, via Instagram, by us or a fake account, email us before responding.