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  • Cecile Corral

Sheex on the Move

Michelle MarciniakMichelle Marciniak, left, andSusan Walvius.
IRMO, S.C. - Sheex, which develops high-end athletic-inspired fabrications for its growing roster of home products, is again stretching into new business segments and broader markets via several new initiatives.
     With the sheeting and top-of-bed fashion and utility programs established and growing, Sheex is now pursuing bath coordinates. Under development, this new line will encompass Sheex-branded towels, shower curtains and accessories.
     "We are in full design mode with these products," said Susan Walvius, co-founder of Sheex in conjunction with her business partner, Michelle Marciniak. Formerly University of South Carolina women's basketball coaches, both women left their day jobs in 2007 to create what they claimed to be the world's first luxury bedding made from performance athletic fabrics. Since then, Sheex has been endorsed by the National Sleep Foundation as well as many professional athletes.
     The first Sheex bath collection could hit retail "as early as January 2014," she added, and will include performance products - namely, cooling towels and quick-dry towels.
     "Everything we develop for Sheex has a unique function while marrying the fashion side of it. It is very high function with simple design for the high-end market," she said.
     This latest project comes on the heels of Sheex's launch in January of its newest product category addition - sleepwear/loungewear.
     "Our sleepwear was actually designed to work with our bedding to keep you more comfortable, with air flow, air circulation," Walvius said. "Our fabric is very breathable and slowly releases heat. The bedding and the sleepwear form a system to release trapped heat and improve sleep quality."
     Sheex sleepwear/loungewear pieces are made using the same performance, athletic-inspired fabrics employed in the company's sheets. They are currently sold through the company's website - www.sheex.com - but the plan is to roll it out this year at other retail venues.
     Among those would be Sheex's new retail shop concept. Along with the new products in the queue in the coming year is the opening of a Sheex-branded luxury linens shop in 2014 in Southern California, where the company has experienced some of its strongest sales.
Sheets, top-of-bed and utilitySheets, top-of-bed and utility bedding components make up Sheex’s core business.

     The store would carry an exclusive line of Sheex products, consisting of the company's highest- tier assortments within all of its current product categories. These include sheets, pillows, duvets, duvet covers, pillowcases, shams, mattress pads and comforters as well as the sleepwear/loungewear pieces.
     To support the growth, Sheex is at the same time ramping up its marketing initiatives with a soon-to-come, "very aggressive" campaign that will at first be tested regionally - likely the Charlotte, N.C. market - in time for the fourth quarter holiday selling season.
     "We plan to learn what we can from that effort, and then take it from there," Walvius said.
     Social media is part of this effort. Sheex's Facebook fan count recently hit an encouraging 65,000, Marciniak noted.
     "Our customer includes this high-tech generation, a younger consumer who has an affinity for an athletic lifestyle. For them, it's about sexy, edgy, cool," Marciniak continued.
     These consumers, she added, "talk about sheets."
     "It's a generation of consumers who understand our products," Walvius added. "It's a generation that understands and prefers performance fabrics because they want the best technology they can find," whether it is for communication or comfortable living.
     Marciniak and Walvius said Sheex products are made of a specially-developed performance fabrics that "breathe three times better than cotton," based on research and testing conducted by North Carolina State University. For that reason, the products offer "fashion with function," helping its users to achieve sounder, longer sleep at a higher comfort level.
     "Cotton traps heat, and heat disrupts sleep," Marciniak explained. "We've done a lot of research and we've found that sleeping cooler helps you get a deeper sleep."
     Ultimately, Walvius and Marciniak explained, their growth strategy centers on comfort.
     "We're creating a new category that goes from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.," Marciniak said. "So, when you come home at night and ask yourself what you want to change into to be comfortable, we want Sheex to be the brand you hang out in, the one you sit back and have a glass a wine in and relax."
     Added Walvius: "We want Sheex to define what you sleep in, sleep on and sleep under. It's our concept of comfort. We want to be the brand that provides that solution."

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