Boll & Branch Demonstrates How Operations Can Shift to Support Healthcare in Times of Crisis
At the end of March, bedding company Boll & Branch announced that they were going to shift their operations to support the shortage of bedding that American hospitals are facing in the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. The company, a client of Diff's, shared that they’ve committed to making 1,000 mattresses for emergency hospitals, and 5,000 pillows for hospitals and emergency operations.
Researchers at Harvard University predict that as COVID-19 evolves, nearly all regions of the USA will need to open up existing hospital beds or add new beds to accommodate sick patients. By donating mattresses and pillows to hospitals and government agencies, Boll & Branch is helping to relieve this shortage of hospital beds.
In the online campaign called Helping From Home, Boll & Branch explained that manufacturing mattresses and pillows for donation does more than just help medical and government agencies respond to the crisis, it keeps workers employed. This concern for social well-being isn’t anything new for Boll & Branch.
Helping From Home reinforces Boll & Branch’s corporate values
According to the founders of Boll & Branch, Scott and Missy Tannen, the “most important thing [they have] ever made is a choice.” The company’s origin story is rooted in a motivation to make the right decisions.
Before the brand was even born, the Tannen’s felt concerned that they would unintentionally find themselves supporting an exploitative supply chain. The year that the Tannen’s began looking into manufacturing their bedding, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1000 workers. News of the tragedy prompted the Tannen’s to make worker safety and conditions a priority for their manufacturing.
It all started with the materials they would use in Boll & Branch’s bedsheets. It quickly became clear that organic cotton was a non-negotiable. “The world of conventional cotton farming is filled with shortcuts and exploitation, and it’s unforgivably dark stuff,” it’s explained on the Boll & Branch website. And so they committed to using 100% organic cotton instead. The organic cotton industry makes a better life for the people who grow it. It requires less water, and pays premiums to those who grow it.
After deciding on organic cotton, the Tannen’s next move was to find a source for the cotton, which led them to Chetna Organic. Chetna is an organization that works with farmers across India that are growing organic cotton without the use of genetically modified seeds or pesticides. According to a 2016 interview with the Tannen’s, they reached out to the Fair Trade Association and to the Global Organic Textile Standard to verify that Chetna was the real deal, and got a seal of approval.
After securing their cotton suppliers, the founders selected an organic and Fair Trade certified textile factory in Kolkata, India, a partner of Chetna, to manufacture the sheets. They ensure that only adults worked in the factory and adjusted wages to be fair.
The final piece of the puzzle was transport. Rather than transport goods from India to North America by air, the Tannen’s opted to have Boll & Branch product shipped by boat. According to the Boll & Branch website, this has saved 21,252 metric tons of carbon emissions.
In January 2014, the company launched as the first fair trade home brand in the world. They are fully Fair Trade Certified - for cotton pricing, manufacturing conditions, safety, and fair labor rates. Moreover, every product sold is certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard, which ensures product safety and organic material composition.
By making educated choices that kept social responsibility in mind, the Tannen’s were able to ensure that their supply chain would improve the livelihoods of the farmers and factory workers that manufacture Boll & Branch products. And now, as America faces a growing demand for bedding in the face of COVID-19, Boll & Branch is extending that same sense of social responsibility to the American healthcare system.
Boll & Branch is manufacturing supplies for donation
To begin with, Boll & Branch has committed to manufacturing 1,000 mattresses for emergency hospitals. To make this happen, they’re working together with Sherwood Bedding, their manufacturing partner in Orlando, Florida.
Boll & Branch has also pledged to donate 5,000 pillows to hospitals and emergency operations by partnering with their Ohio-based pillow manufacturer, Downlite. The emergency materials will be distributed across New York state, the epicenter of COVID-19 in America, going to facilities such as the Javits Center. Normally a convention center, the 1,800,000-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City has now been converted into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 patients.
Helping From Home: How you can help
“If you still have a job and you're still healthy, consider paying your good fortune forward,” Scott Tannen mentioned in a recent social media post. Here’s how:
Boll & Branch is offering consumers 10% off purchases with a specific code (GOODNESS) to promote the campaign. Any purchases made using the code will not only give the consumer a discount, it will also send 10% of the purchase proceeds towards Boll & Branch’s Coronavirus production efforts.
You can also donate towards their production directly, rather than through a purchase. The specially-made hospital mattresses cost just $100 to produce and ship, and so, any donation will have a tangible impact on Boll & Branch’s efforts. You can donate here.
Lastly, if you’d like to support other brands that are donating purchase proceeds towards Coronavirus efforts, check out the Brands x Better coalition, of which Boll & Branch as well as Summersalt, another client of Diff’s, is a part.
Browse this list of brands that are contributing funds to support charities fighting COVID-19. You’ll not only be helping in the effort against the pandemic, but you’ll be ensuring employees and suppliers of brands can keep working during this crisis.
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Written by Erin Hynes, Marketing Coordinator at Diff Agency.