By Kathy Brown.
While making her bed on vacation four years ago, Michele Wytas realized that she accidentally packed two fitted sheets. Being a problem solver, Michele worked with what she had and layered the two fitted sheets on top of each other, then folded down the top layered sheet at the head of the bed. Her son tackled the bedmaking every day quickly and easily, instead of avoiding it like he usually did. “These are great!” Michele thought, “How do I not have these?”
She established a company to produce the sheets in March 2018. The parent company is called Calyx LLC, from the Calyx-sepal pod of a plant, Michele explained. “[The pod] protects the fine silky hairs, kind of like our sheets protect you at night.” Right now she is the only employee, and they are starting with a small run of 1,000 units. She has her eye to the future though. “Once we grow and expand, we are looking for a place in East Haddam/Haddam area to make our home,” said Michele. “We are looking; so let us know.”
She lived with her former husband in Haddam for 16 years. “I have so many fond memories [in Haddam] from getting engaged in my rock garden, to raising our two boys up until high school in town, making so many lifelong friends, and being part of the community.”
Michele has a BA in Communications, and she is a certified teacher in Technology. She is working on her Masters in Education now, while starting this business, and continuing her graphic design freelance career. Plus she’s the mother of two busy teenaged boys.
After her divorce, she took a job designing at the Connecticut Lottery so that she could get back on her feet and rebuild what was once their summer home in East Haddam into a year round home. Once that was complete, she took the leap and left her fulltime job to return to freelance design and animation, under the name Renderwoman.
Michele said there were many people who helped get this idea off the ground and “I can’t thank them enough!”: State of Connecticut Small Business provided her with free services, UCONN law took her on as a free client, friends helped her write, market, shoot commercials, gave her business advice, participated in photo shoots, and are helping spread the word about her sheets. “I’m truly blessed,” said Michele.
Though she is starting off with a small run, she has plans to add new products and develop both retail and industrial side by getting into hotels, nursing homes, and hospitals.
The sheets have a lot going for them: they were designed locally, they’re 100% organic cotton, free of pesticides and insecticides and/or 100% recycled materials. From the tote the products are wrapped in to the shipping boxes and labels, it is either designed to be repurposed or already is so you can feel good about the purchase.
As part of her marketing plan, she has this to say about her new line of sheets, Toesty Sheets eliminates all these time consuming and frustrating errors in bed making like putting the top sheet on backwards or upside down, or running around the bed to make sure that everything is even. “The Toesty Sheets’ top sheet goes on once and goes on correctly.”
Michele’s solution was to integrate an elastic banded end cap at the foot of the sheet, along with gradient seamed sides. She has applied for a patent. “The end cap slips over the mattress easily, eliminating the need for ‘hospital corners,’ while the gradient side seams are tailored to prevent the need for side tucks. This top sheet design distinguishes the bottom of the sheet from the top, and it ensures a correct foldover. With those margins of error eliminated, the sheet can be quickly placed onto a mattress — without the need for centering, aligning, folding, and tucking — the hybrid top sheet is instantly centered on the bed, with a straight top, and even side drops.”
“I had an idea before this one and people laughed, so I gave up on it,” Michele said. “Then the universe gave me this idea and I said I had to try it. When I find a product that makes a chore more manageable, while at the same time being beautiful, I feel giddy with excitement! I hold that product in my hands and think, ‘Yes! This is so smart! And look how pretty!’ I absolutely love them and know you will too.”
Photos provided by Michele Wytas.