We’ve all had to pivot in one way or another during 2020. For many, "pivot" has been the word that most describes what this year has been so far, as the pandemic has meant shifting to working from home or exchanging a handshake greeting for a temperature check. For many businesses, though, it’s meant shifting not only how they sell their products—i.e., FaceTime shopping, virtual styling—but also what products they sell. However, in the case of 41 Winks, the transition was relatively, well, seamless.   

Katy native Olivia White runs 41 Winks, a New York City-based sleepwear company that was strictly selling sleep masks when Covid-19 hit earlier this year. But in just a few weeks, the brand began adding face masks. “From a product standpoint, we were able to pivot very quickly and start designing and manufacturing face masks in early April,” White says, “and by late April they were live on our website.” 

Olivia White, CEO of 41 Winks. 

41 Winks was founded back in 2012 by White’s aunt. At that point, the company was designing and creating flat and fitted sheets, duvet covers, bed skirts, European-style shams, and pillowcases. White moved up to New York in October 2013 to help her aunt relaunch and rebrand the company. When she took over as CEO in 2018, White transitioned the company into only making sleep masks—until now. 

When the pandemic began to set in, White says she noticed a few brands starting to offer face masks, and so she contacted her manufacturer to begin working on a prototype. 

“Being in the soft goods space, we already had beautiful, 100-percent cotton fabric to use and [were] able to source those very quickly,” White says. “In short, it was, this is what needs to happen and we can easily contribute, and it felt like everything was laid out.” 

The company’s product addition has also changed the way customers interact with 41 Winks, White says. Customers come for the face masks and end up coming back to buy sleep masks, too, “which is a really fun customer journey we now have,” she says. 

On top of that, White says that she has been able to connect to her customers in a very different way since the pandemic began. For every single order she is writing a handwritten note to give her customers a sense of human connection in such an intense, socially distant time. And the note-writing goes both ways, White says, which makes the whole process feel more genuine and personal. She says customers will often write her back. “Thank you for the beautiful face masks and your note,” one customer wrote. “They are absolutely wonderful, well worth the wait.”

As for the fate of 41 Winks, White thinks building that relationship with customers will help her small business navigate through these unprecedented times. 

“It’s been fun for people to trust a small business like mine for something as important as a face mask,” White says. “It is an honor to get to provide and contribute in such an odd time and be able to connect to people but also give back.”  

Both sleep and face masks are available to purchase through the 41 Winks online store. Face masks are $15 and sleep masks start at $35, or you could get the Day-to-Night set that comes with both for $41. 

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