If you've been following along on our MOTHERSHIP, you'll remember that not long ago we interviewed Sylvie Lee Vo of Studio SYLVO. You may also remember that she gave us a teaser on a project in the works. Well, that project, Mei-Mei Moon, an eco-conscious bedtime accessories and sleep wellness brand, is now live. We were lucky to sit down with Sylvie again (now, as Head of Product and Design) along with one other co-founder, Holly Head, Head of Content and Operations, to discuss how they became partners, the ethos behind Mei-Mei Moon, the ups and downs that are inevitable in starting an online brand (especially during Covid), and the importance of giving yourself the permission to rest and recuperate.
First of all, tell us where you both are!
SLV: Greetings from northern California! I’m writing from my sunny home studio in Pleasant Hill, CA. 🖖🙂🌴
HH: Hello from the not so sunny UK! I recently moved back home after being out in California for a few years 🖖
As always, congratulations on founding Mei-Mei Moon. When did the brand launch, and how has the past year been for you all (as founders during a pandemic and with customers who have largely stayed at home)?
SLV: Thank you! We’ve been dreaming and scheming since the end of 2020, but our website www.meimeimoon.com didn’t officially launch until last Fall- September 2021. The past year has been a wonderful adventure and learning experience. To me, it’s felt really slow and fast at the same time. Incredible highs punctuated by a couple lows and every other emotion in between. Since we started mid-pandemic, it’s hard to know specifically how the lockdowns have affected our business (other than the super fun supply chain issues that everyone is super bored of talking about 🙅♀️). I do hope our products have been able to bring people some sense of delight/excitement/coziness, while we’ve all been spending so much time at home.
HH: Thank you! It’s funny really because without the pandemic, Mei-Mei Moon may never have been. It really was a catalyst for us to try and create something positive out of the madness. I’m so proud of what we’ve managed to achieve and it is nice to think we might have been able to help people treat themselves a little during such a difficult time.
Both of you had corporate careers prior to starting Mei-Mei Moon. How did you find one another? And what would you say was THE driving factor in venturing out and starting your own company? Has starting your own brand been what you expected?
SLV: Holly and I met in 2016 when we were both working as part of the marketing team at Blurb in San Francisco. At the time I was a designer and Holly was a copywriter. We teamed up on a lot of projects - mostly marketing and promotional materials like emails, blog posts, web pages, social media assets, etc. Over the years, we eventually became the leads for our respective teams, leading the art direction, content, and storytelling for all customer-facing channels at Blurb. At some point we got the wild idea - “wait, what if we did this work for ourselves on products of our own design?” and things kind of snowballed from there. We also roped in another coworker, Deepta, who has amazing growth marketing experience and was instrumental in getting Mei-Mei Moon off the ground. I’ve always had one foot in the world of entrepreneurship, but the driving factor this time around was knowing I’d have Holly & Deepta with me. That made me confident we’d be able to build something really special.
HH: It was definitely a meeting of minds - we both enjoy the freedom that comes with being your own boss, working on your own ideas, under your own steam. There have definitely been challenges. We both have high standards which has been vital to success and tricky to navigate when things didn’t go quite to plan, which they inevitably don’t on a venture like this. I’m not sure I could have done this with anyone except Sylvie. ❤️
Why sleep? Why silk?
SLV: Our culture is obsessed with productivity. A lot of attention and praise is given to busy people with high ambition and prolific output. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I think people forget that there’s another side to that coin. Sleep and rest are the unsung heroes of a balanced and productive life. I also find it interesting that parents spend so much time on their kids’ sleep routines, yet often invest so little into caring for themselves. Sleep just felt like an area that deserved more attention for a lot of people. We chose silk because it is literally the best thing you can sleep on. It’s great for your skin and hair and it just feels really nice. We wanted people to look forward to going to bed at night, and a silk pillowcase just felt like the perfect little treat.
HH: It was very organic. We were having conversations with friends, family and between ourselves about the impact of lockdowns on our sleep and wellbeing. Basically, everyone was always tired! We also noticed that while there are a lot of companies out there offering silk pillowcases none of them were particularly attractive. With Sylvie’s artistic skills we knew we could bring something extra to the table - something that looked beautiful as well as being functional.
Tell us a little bit about your product offerings! Dare we ask what else we can expect down the line?
SLV: Sleep and other states of rest will always be at the core of our brand, but playfulness and leisure are key components too. We started with silk pillowcases for kids and adults and organically branched into sleep masks and fashion accessories (like the scrunchies and Silkies) as a way to reduce our fabric waste. Our next non-bedding product will be totally different and specifically for kids, but still related to bedtime. We also have some verrryyyy exciting partnerships coming up… Let’s just say this won’t be the last time you see Mei-Mei Moon on the Ready-Made site… 👀✨
HH: We’ve really been focused on our core collection of luxurious silk sleep accessories - pillowcases, sleep masks and little treats like silk scrunchies using Sylvie’s beautiful artwork. But we’ve definitely got new designs and prints up our sleeves. I’d love to launch seasonal collections of people’s favorite Mei-Mei Moon goodies. Beyond silk, we’re exploring some fun new products with one already in development … more to come soon on that!
Mei-Mei Moon is all about getting the best sleep possible. But… As founders, what’s something that keeps you up at night?
SLV: Ironically I’m often thinking about how people don’t value and celebrate rest enough! I’m a firm believer that we can’t truly help others if our own cups aren’t full and just wish more people would give themselves permission to rest and recuperate. It’s a win-win for everyone. Take that nap, then save the world. ;)
HH: For me it’s definitely all the ideas and plans we’ve got for the future. There’s so much potential and opportunity, it can feel a bit overwhelming, but exciting too.