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A business that gives a sheet


16 March 2022 at 4:08 pm
Nikki Stefanoff
A new online linen subscription service, Sheetly, has launched in Brisbane in partnership with White Box Enterprises.


Nikki Stefanoff | 16 March 2022 at 4:08 pm


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A business that gives a sheet
16 March 2022 at 4:08 pm

A new online linen subscription service, Sheetly, has launched in Brisbane in partnership with White Box Enterprises.

After a career spent in both executive and general manager roles for companies like Unilever and Heineken, Sheetly’s co-founder Wendy Rattray decided she wanted to redirect her time and energy into having more of a direct impact on the world.

Already consulting within the Brisbane-based social enterprise White Box Enterprises – a jobs-based social enterprise builder – Rattray began talking with them about creating a partnership. She would bring her years of skills and experience in the corporate world, and they would provide social enterprise and job-building knowledge. 

The result of those conversations is Sheetly. A reasonably priced online, subscription linen service that provides hotel-quality sheets and towels for time and space-poor Australians – a sheet bundle starts from $20, with a fancy bachelor(ette) bundle including a doona cover, towels, bath mat and bed making service starts from $49.

We caught up with Rattray to find out the plans for this for-purpose business both now, just two weeks after launch, as well as in the future.

Tell me about the concept of Sheetly

Essentially, Sheetly is a direct-to-door five-star hotel quality bed linen subscription service. That means we turn up at your door every week or every fortnight with beautiful clean linen and massive fluffy towels – the sort of thing you would find in a top-end boutique hotel. We will then pick up the dirties and drop off a clean set, meaning our customers no longer need to wash, dry, fold or even own bed linen and towels. We provide everything. 

Who are the target customers for Sheetly? 

Australia is a nation that works some of the world’s longest hours, and so we’re seeing this huge trend in people trying to simplify or refocus their lives by outsourcing some of their chores. So, those hard-working Aussies are one of our audiences. Another customer base is those who are short of space. With so many people living in apartments, there’s no space to dry sheets and towels and no space to store them, either. Washing sheets becomes this massive chore – 100 per cent of the people I interviewed said they weren’t washing their bed linen as often as they should. And the other market we’re looking to support with the service is young families. I heard from so many people during our research phase that if you’re a family with, say, two young kids changing the sheets every weekend completely dominates your time and your laundry. It’s a time burden and a hassle. 

We also want to expand out into supporting people living with disabilities as well as the elderly. There’s also an opportunity for people with second homes and Airbnb’s to use Sheetly. 

What’s Sheetly’s impact model? 

Sheetly has been created as a partnership with White Box Enterprises. I’ve been working with White Box on a consultancy basis for the past couple of years, but we created Sheetly together. White Box’s mission is to provide employment to people who are underserved, and so once Sheetly is up and running (it’s only been two weeks) then at least 50 per cent of our roles will go to refugees and asylum seekers, and people living with disabilities – we have the right roles, the right career paths and the right knowledge to be able to support them. 

What would those roles look like? 

We will provide a broad range of roles including warehousing, delivery, customer service, marketing, business development, and also laundry operations roles via our commercial laundry partner company. We’d be looking to employ more people through both Sheetly operations and through our social enterprise commercial laundry partners as we grow. 

Is the plan to branch out into other states and connect with social enterprises in those states? 

Exactly. The intention is for us to pilot the service in Brisbane for the next few months before bringing Sheetly to Melbourne and Sydney. The operational model is to have a social enterprise commercial laundry partner in each state. 

I know you were supposed to launch earlier than you did, were you caught up in the floods? 

Yes! We were supposed to launch two weeks earlier than we did but as we were driving up to Brisbane from Sydney we got stuck in Byron Bay due to the heavy rain. My husband and I and our puppy ended up having to turn around and drive back to Sydney. But to be honest, it was a bit of a blessing because even if we did manage to get to Brisbane, it was not the right time. The people of Brisbane have much more going on than wanting clean bedlinen. 

Tell me a little bit about your background because you’re not from a social enterprise background…

That’s right, which is why the partnership with White Box is perfect for me. My background is very much fast-moving consumer goods, with a career that started off in finance and then moved into marketing and strategy. I eventually found myself in executive and general management positions for some pretty large multinationals like Heineken and Unilever and I also spent a bit of time with startups and scaleup businesses, such as the electric scooter hire business Lime, which was a heap of fun. The commonality in all the roles I’ve had is that they’ve been extremely consumer-focused, which is also important for Sheetly. While the whole purpose of Sheetly is to provide jobs it also needs to stack up commercially. It needs to turn over a profit for us to be sustainable so that we can, in the long term, continue to provide jobs. 

How did you meet the good folks at White Box?  

I started working with them a couple of years ago in an advisory capacity. I would come in when they had a new idea or venture, and I would be part of the advisory board that would review the opportunities. I also did some consulting as part of the advisory services part of the business. As far as Sheetly goes, the idea was born about six months ago and it’s become my full-time gig in the last four months. It’s just brilliant. We’re doing it on a shoestring and using lean startup principles so not investing a huge amount of money in terms of upfront capital. We’re being really smart with the budget. 

So how are you getting the word out?!

We’re doing some social marketing on Facebook as well as a good old fashioned letterbox drop in priority areas for this service. We’re doing a bit of PR, and then communicating with our database to keep them updated on when we’re going to be launching in new areas. 

Find out more about Sheetly here. 

 


Nikki Stefanoff  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Nikki Stefanoff is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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