College: that place where no one knows that your high school bedroom was basically a shrine to Pokémon. (Unless you Instagrammed it, but that's on you.)
When Olivia White was making the transition from Taylor High School in Katy to USC in 2009, she saw her dorm room as the ultimate blank slate for expressing her personality, only to discover that her options for dorm-standard Twin XL bedding were generic bed-in-a-bags and other unappealing options.
After White graduated in 2013 with a degree in Spanish and International Business, her aunt tapped her to make the move to New York and help relaunch her bedding brand, 41 Winks, with a focus on the college and young adult market. Building on her own college experience and the knowledge of textiles and design that White learned from her grandmother, an interior decorator, she decided to go for it.
"College is such an exciting time—your dorm room becomes the only place you can call home. It's a hang out spot where you're introducing new friends to who you are and inviting them into your space, so it should be a space you're proud of," says White. "We believe the bed is a canvas for self-expression where you can add personality with pops of color and design, not just a place for sleeping. I was doing homework there, hanging out, watching Netflix, even eating in bed, so a white duvet cover was not going to cut it."
The revamped 41 Winks features individualized collections, each based around a duvet cover made of a patchwork of premium textiles in soft sateen, combined with materials like seersucker and metallic linen.
Having spent time in Texas, Southern California and now New York, White says the collections reflect each different place she's called home.
"The Ink duvet cover is very California with its blues, it reminds me of living right by ocean, laid back and cool. For the South, our Bailey collection has a seersucker material on it and it has a subtle pink undertone along with the whites and greys in it; my aunt made that fabric herself, so I love that we were able to pull that in. New York is definitely Paprika, it's the most bold and edgy of all of these," says White.
The color schemes are designed to appeal to different personalities, with coordinating pillows, shams and blankets that can take the same bedding from youthful (florals, metallics) to sophisticated solids to translate the same look into a bed fit for a young professional in her first apartment. The collections are made in limited quantities in New York's Garment District so that buyers won't see the same thing in the dorm room next door.
Now 24, White is now working with her aunt on extending the 41 Winks brand in new directions and rolling out a brand ambassador program to connect with other young women on campus who are interested in design and entrepreneurship.
"College is a crucial time to be loud and expressive," says White. "Bedding is representative of who you are, it should be something you care about—it's the biggest element in your space."