I’d consider myself a good sleeper, as I’ve never had to worry about positioning myself in a certain way on my bed, or forcing myself to sleep early in order to reach dreamland.
But I know of friends and even colleagues who really struggle with sleep. Most of them suffer from insomnia, while some just cannot fall asleep until a certain time. Or, until they’re in a certain position in bed.
If you look up remedies for better sleep, you’d find all sorts of advice ranging from changing your pre-bedtime routine (no screens an hour before bed), ingesting a specific drink (tea or warm milk), or even swapping out your cotton bedsheets for silk ones.
For Khor Hui Shen, 26, she believes that the type of nightwear worn plays an important role in ensuring one has a good night’s sleep.
From financial services to sleep
Previously, Shen struggled with insomnia and sensitive skin. Subtle rays of light coming in through the window or just the occurrence of a slight noise would wake her up.
“However, the one thing I realised that affects my sleep the most is the quality of my pyjamas,” said Shen.
Having graduated from the University of Warwick with a Degree in Economics, Shen continued to work in London, UK for 2.5 years as a Financial Services Consultant.
Soon after, she decided to come back to Malaysia in early 2021 to pursue something entirely different from what she knew: ecommerce.
She started off at a fashion ecommerce company as a Senior Account Manager and worked her way up to start and lead the new Marketplace Projects Team, a full-time job she still holds today.
During her time in the UK, Shen had been on a pyjama scouting spree, but it wasn’t easy to find one that was comfortable and pretty at the same time.
“Even if there are, they probably don’t suit the Asian body size/style. Upon returning to Malaysia, I noticed the same issue as well, which is not knowing where to obtain good quality pyjamas,” explained Shen.
Hence, the conception of nightystories. Founded in April 2022, the brand believes in offering pyjamas that are comfortable, stylish, and at affordable pricing.
Bridging the gap
Shen admitted that having a background in economics and ecommerce has helped her in kick-starting her startup. Her current role as a team lead in her full-time job also trains her to think like a brand owner.
“This is my first business venture; however, I co-founded a student organisation back in my university days,” shared Shen. The student organisation is called the Association Of Malaysian Economics Undergraduates (AMEU).
While both nightystories (for-profit) and AMEU (non-profit) required different approaches, both were similarly founded to address a noticeable gap in their markets.
Currently, Shen runs the startup on her own during her free time and on weekends. Weekdays are kept for her full-time job.
In further explaining the reasons behind her startup, Shen stated that the pyjama market is very fragmented and there is no obvious market leader out there.
She also believes that the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the “self-care” movement. Hence, there is a rise in demand for quality sleepwear and lounge sets.
“I wanted to start with something that I am more familiar with first, which is clothing since this is relevant to my existing role,” expressed Shen.
Cotton, mulberry silk, or silk satin?
According to Shen, there are brands out there that offer comfortable pyjamas such as those mulberry silk brands. However, the price point is beyond most consumers’ reach.
She added that there are also brands that offer pretty pyjamas, but they’re not that ideal either, due to their quality.
“I spent around six months trying different pyjama fabrics out there, ranging from cotton to mulberry silk, before settling down with our existing premium silk satin fabric,” shared Shen.
Hence, nightystories has opted for the one that supposedly offers the most premium quality with the following characteristics:
- Breathable – It is very light and does not stick to the body, hence, making it optimal for Southeast Asia’s humid weather.
- Soft – While the material looks like silk, it feels like cotton.
- Sensitive-skin friendly – Ideally, it should not make one feel itchy.
Each set ranges from RM119.90 to RM129.90.
The pyjamas are currently designed and manufactured in China, but Shen stated, “The long-term plan when we have a stronger cash flow would be to collaborate with Malaysian designers to increase the awareness of supporting local designs.”
Going to sleep with nightystories
From what Shen shared, nightystories’ pyjamas certainly sound like a sleep game-changer, and I was personally curious about how they felt too.
So, when she graciously offered to send me a set to try, I jumped on the opportunity and received the Sophia Satin Stripe Pyjamas Set (Blue) in size M. Turns out, there is no smaller size than M because their pyjamas are meant to be slightly loose-fitting, and there’s a handy size chart to help you find your match.
Upon putting on my nightystories pyjamas, I could feel the softness of the silk satin. Needless to say, it was very comfortable, an experience enhanced by its slightly loose fit.
While you might think a looser fit means more friction as you move around in sleep, I personally felt that the material was indeed sensitive-skin friendly.
I suffer from eczema, so I was quite worried that the pyjamas would trigger my reaction, but fortunately, nothing of the sort happened. At most, I experienced some minor discomfort because I don’t sleep with the aircon running the entire night.
Hence, once my aircon turned off, I started feeling slightly warmer in the pyjamas. Other factors that likely contributed to this were the fact that the pyjamas are long-sleeved, and the unpredictably humid Malaysian weather.
nightystories currently has no short-sleeved options, so I feel that could be taken into consideration if Shen is planning to market her nightwear to locals.
There is a myriad of fashion brands that exist due to the relatively low barriers to entry in the fashion industry. Moreover, Malaysian consumers are some of the most price-sensitive when compared to global consumers.
So, how does nightystories stand out and attract consumers without being discount-driven?
“We understand that having an attractive brand story and clear brand positioning is very important, so this is something that we try to stick by from very early on,” explained Shen.
Thus, the brand places extra effort on the end-to-end consumer experience. For example, they have a return-friendly policy whereby consumers can request a return or exchange within seven days from the date of delivery.
Shen also highlights the importance of assortment planning when running a startup. Without a good strategy, one might run into issues such as “broken sizes,” or out-of-stock issues.
“Learning from past mistakes, I now test out the consumers’ response before stocking up too much on an item,” said Shen.
For now, nightystories’ goal is to remain focused and take it one step at a time. The plan is to grow the Malaysian consumer base with their existing products first.
Eventually though, the brand intends on expanding its reach to retail outlets, where customers will be able to see and feel for themselves the comfort of nightystories’ products.
- Learn more about nightystories here.
- Read about other Malaysian startup stories here.
Featured Image Credit: nightystories