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The idea for the BedMaker came when I saw my grandmother struggling to change her bedsheets. With one hand on her walker, and fingers crippled with arthritis, she faced a daunting task. To my surprise there was next to nothing on the market that even addressed this problem, and certainly nothing that solved it well. The idea for the BedMaker was born.
After a quick rundown of power tools from my husband, Read more...
After a quick rundown of power tools from my husband, I set to work making my first prototypes.
A long process of designing, testing and redesigning followed. There were many failed attempts and a long trail of broken BedMakers. Finally, I hit upon the right combination of materials and design that could produce a strong yet thin device that would blend seamlessly into the bed frame while providing the necessary boost to hold up the mattress.
Anyone I showed it to seemed to suggest I should "simply" get it made out of plastic. So the next 5 months were spent visiting various injection moulding factories here in Ottawa, only to conclude that in fact not every product is suited to plastic. The large, thin plates of the BedMaker, coupled with its long, unsupported overhang and high strength requirement, meant it was too risky to attempt making an expensive mould. The final product would very likely not have had the strength to support a mattress. We did get as far as having a plastic mock-up made. As you can see from the picture, it looked nice enough, but it would probably never have worked. So that avenue had led to a dead end. What next?
In June of 2016, I exhibited the BedMaker in Pittsburgh at INPEX, the largest international invention trade show in the United States. After 3 exciting days, The BedMaker was awarded the gold medal for the best new household product in the United States for 2016! There was also a lot of interest from distributors wishing to sell the BedMaker or place it on TV, but I did not have manufacturing capabilities, which was a problem. Buoyed up by the excitement of the show and a huge dose of confidence, I thought hey, I have a workshop at home! I can do this!
So I returned home to my tech-savvy husband and announced that we needed manufacturing and we needed it now! The sparkle in his eye was all I had time to glimpse before he disappeared upstairs and began ordering parts and machinery. This was the happy day he got "carte-blanche" to build a really big boy toy! Such excitment warranted a full renovation of the workshop (of course). Or at least, he convinced me the delay would be worth it. Once that was done, the building began. Months later, there it stood in all its glory: a robotic machine capable of cutting out 8 BedMakers at a time. An awesome tool of power, precision, and promise. At this point we were feeling very proud of ourselves, and there were lots of pats on backs and demos to friends and family. We bought a stack of wood and I set to work varnishing each piece. It was Christmas and word got out about our operations. Orders came in and we were as busy as elves in the workshop! On Christmas Eve I was still filling orders and driving them around to their recipients. I took Christmas Day off, and then new orders began to come in from those who had been gifted BedMakers and wanted more. We were back at it. Then, suddently, I felt light-headed one day, and found myself in bed for a few days. The toxic fumes from the varnish had taken a toll, and I also developed skin rashes that wouldn't go away. Despite a list of unfilled orders, I had to stop making BedMakers.
We learned two important things from this experience (aside from ensuring proper ventilation in the workshop). First, we knew the demand was there. And second, we knew that even with our magnificent machine, we had no hope of keeping up. What to do?
I thought back to INPEX, the show in Pittsburgh. One particular sourcing company had stood out among the rest: Asian Pro Source. I called them, and we set to work to find a proper large-scale manufacturer. This proved harder than expected. After much negotiation and several months, the first proposal fell through. I was crestfallen. But if it wasn't going to work out in China, then we were determined to find a Canadian company willing to take it on. That proved even more difficult, as each separate part required sourcing from a different place, and I quickly got bogged down with all the details. Months went by, and I was no further foward. Then an email came in. The original sourcing company had found a new factory in China. This time the proposal was good, and they produced such a high quality sample that we were truly impressed. The minimum order quanity, however, was large, and they would not allow less. If we took the proposal, we would be in mass production. More negotiations and a thousand details later, we struck a deal! The order was placed, and wheels were set in motion. Placing this order was really only the beginning, but after trying so hard for so long, it felt like a huge milestone. This is how I felt the day the order was placed: And here is the arrival of that order, many months (and delays) later:
It's hard to believe how the BedMaker has evolved from early prototypes to what it is today. The very first one was made of fabric with straps that crossed under the bed with a swinging wooden foot stand: Then there were some dangerous contraptions with springs. This one nearly took my finger off one day: And then there was a ribbed design that caught fire while being cut (note charred portions): And many, many more: Before arriving at the final design:
Every product is a journey. I am often asked whether I plan to go on Dragon's Den. I certainly would! But first I'm allowing some time for our sales to build up, since that is always a key question on the show. We can get there!
For some people, The BedMaker is a simple convenience, but for others it is the difference between being able to change the sheets and not being able to. Dependence and self-sufficiency. This is what drives me to keep going. Every granny needs a BedMaker!
You can help us reach more people and make their lives easier. It's easy: just tell people about it. Tell your friends and family. Tell the neighbour who has arthritis. Tell anyone who has a bed! You can give them our website link (www.bed-maker.com), or, if you have Facebook, simply share our page: https://www.facebook.com/thebedmaker Just click on it and hit share. Thank you!!!
And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has already purchased The BedMaker - you are our raison-d'être; you drive our success!
If you would like to follow our journey, I invite you to "like" our Facebook page. This will make our updates show up in your Facebook news feed.