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When siblings Michael Dobin and Diana Dobin Kauppinen took over their family business, Valley Forge Fabrics, in 2008, they were determined to bring their sustainable priorities to it. Valley Forge supplies decorative textiles to hotels worldwide. One of their first ecofriendly initiatives was to launch a line of bed linens exclusively for hotels and resorts, made with sustainable Tencel+Plus™ fabric, which uses rapidly renewable eucalyptus fibers.
“The response was overwhelming,” remarks Randi Farina, vice-president of what would become their new business, Living Fresh m . “People would sleep in the beds [with the sheets] and love them so much, they were copying down the information from the tags and going to the management, demanding to know where they came from.”
Farina says because Tencel+Plus absorbs moisture at night, the sheets have the cool, soft feel of silk, even after many washes, paired with the thick sturdiness of cotton.
After years of would-be customers contacting them in search of the sheets, only to be turned away because they were not for retail sale, Dobin and Kauppinen knew they needed to do something to meet demand. In July 2013, they launched Living Fresh, making their Tencel+Plus™ sheets available for personal purchase.
“Our choice to use Tencel+Plus™ eucalyptus fiber protects our environment through its lightimpact, award-winning production process that also results in enhanced sleep and wellness through the natural benefits of eucalyptus.”
—Diana Dobin Kauppinen, Founder/CEO, Living Fresh
The sheets are USDA-certified bio-based, or composed in significant part of renewable biological materials. The eucalyptus for the fabric is grown in forests certified as sustainably managed by the Forest Stewardship Council m . A perennial crop, eucalyptus also sequesters significant amounts of carbon in the soil.
In addition, the company’s eucalyptus lyocell fabric is created using a closed-loop, three-step process with just one nontoxic solvent. In comparison, bamboo rayon, which has a comparable texture, requires as many as 16 different chemicals to manufacture. The lyocell process is so clean, nearly all of the water involved can be reused or recycled. And, it requires up to 100 times less water than cotton manufacturing.
The sheets have health benefits for sleepers, as well, says Farina. Eucalyptus is antimicrobial and naturally resistant to dust mites, so the fabric is hypoallergenic. One customer who suffered from sleep-disturbing asthma raved that she was able to forego her inhaler at bedtime after switching to Living Fresh sheets.
“The connection between human health and sustainability is the foundation of Living Fresh’s mission and the single-most critical performance aspect of our products,” remarks Diana Dobin Kauppinen.
Currently, Living Fresh’s online store offers six sheet colors with plans for adding two more each year, as well as Tencel+Plus duvets, duvet covers, towels, decorative pillows, and sleepwear.
Corporate responsibility is also important to the Living Fresh team. In the past year alone, the company has donated over 100 sheets to the Ronald McDonald House and to Habitat for Humanity.
“We want everyone to sleep healthy,” Farina says. “We spend as much as a third of our lives in our beds. Choosing the right natural fibers to sleep on is so important because your sleep environment truly impacts your quality of life.”