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Empowering women-owned businesses

Sheila Lester, owner of Pillo Poket Satin Pillowcase, kicks off our month-long focus on empowering women-owned businesses. 

Sheila Lester, owner of Pillo Poket Satin Pillowcase, kicks off our month-long focus on empowering women-owned businesses.

While women are making strides in business, there clearly still are many challenges ahead. According to the United States Census Bureau, women accounted for approximately 28.7 percent of all non-farm business. Yet women only generated approximately 3.9 percent of the receipts.

And Money.CNN.com reports that there are only 12 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, representing 2.4 percent and an overall loss of three from the previous year.

Lester entered the marketplace as a creative business owner. According to her website, www.pillopoket.com, Lester’s products – from pillow cases to wraps – deliver stylish functionality while providing hair-saving, anti-wrinkle, hypoallergenic benefits.

Carlee McCullough, Esq.: Tell us about yourself and how you started Pillo Poket Satin Pillowcase?


Sheila Lester: As a 34-year-old divorced mother of two, I wanted a satin pillowcase that was functional and stylish. I couldn’t find one that I liked. So I made my own in 2008. After making the first prototype and seeing the response I got from relatives and friends, and even my two sons, I started selling them. I incorporated formally in April 2010.

CM: What were the primary factors you considered before starting your company?

SL: I considered the need and/or demand for a product like mine and how to get the word out about it.

CM: Tell us about your products?

SL: The Pillo Poket is a unique hypoallergenic satin pillowcase. We also have The Diva Wrap, which is a satin headwrap that is adjustable and very stylish.

CM: What has been your greatest challenge?

SL: Getting the word out about the product on a national level has been difficult. One of my short-term goals for the business is to secure a national vendor with an established track record capable of securing the Pillo Poket line of products national and international exposure.

CM: What is the greatest reward in running your own business?

SL: Having someone tell you how much the product has helped them is extremely rewarding. I made the product out of my own frustration with satin pillowcases offered by the market today. I knew that if I was dissatisfied, others were as well.

CM: In your opinion what does it take to run a business?

SL: It takes a willingness to be brave, make decisions and not beat yourself up if you make a mistake.

CM: If you had one piece of advice to give to someone just starting a business, what would it be?

SL: Never, ever, ever give up. Protect yourself at all cost, copyright, trademark and patent your concept as soon as possible.

CM: In this economy, is now a good time to become an entrepreneur?

SL: The “best time” to become an entrepreneur is subjective. The best ideas are grown out of necessity. When the spirit of entrepreneurship hits, it’s a passion that few can extinguish. If you feel it, go for it.

CM: Do you notice any new trends in the marketplace? If so, what are they?

SL: I see a strong trend of collaboration and mergers. On the larger scale it can be intimidating to smaller companies and entrepreneurs like me. But I believe the key is to find your niche and how you can best fit or merge with someone who offers a product or service that complements what you do or provide.

CM: What types of marketing do you employ?

SL: I do social media and email marketing mainly. I’ve also been blessed with a very healthy word of mouth sort of grassroots stream of marketing.

CM: Any closing remarks?

SL: At one of my slowest points in my business, I was blessed to meet a group of women called The Black Philanthropic Women of Memphis who took me under their wing and exposed me to resources that I will benefit from forever. They have given back in a way that I will be eternally grateful and I believe that I was blessed with them through my faithfulness to my vision. Keep the faith!

(For additional information about Pillo Poket please visit www.pillopoket.com.)

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 777 South Main St., Suite 202, Memphis, Tenn., or e-mail: wealthy@tri-statedefender .com.)

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