LOS ANGELES—From early on, Katie Everds knew she wanted to do something different. Like many creative types, she is always brimming with big ideas—and enthusiasm to match. Living in sunny California and being a serious beachgoer, she came up with a solution for no longer having to carry all the essentials—music, towel, pillow, bags, etc.—for a day of lounging at the beach or by the pool.
“I love the beach and have lived in Southern California my whole life. At the beach, I was always punching sand under my head to create a sand pillow. I thought maybe I could incorporate a towel into a pillow. Both my arms are always full carrying a big towel and a pillow to the beach,” said Everds, founder of the Tillow based here. “I said, ‘If I’m going to make this real, I need to check the feasibility of the product.’ I did surveys on social media and I would do a setup with the prototype and ask what they thought. I got overwhelming feedback and saw a demand.”
Everds has a degree in psychology and, at one time, started a small business in college. Little did she know she’d become an inventor. “I always had these great ideas I wanted to see through and I had the idea in college for the Tillow. It was just an idea and evolved into an all-in-one beach product,” said Everds. “Once I graduated, I started working in the corporate world. But I always had that entrepreneurial itch and I decided to go for it.”
She admitted she didn’t know much about business, including how to source manufacturing or even the day-to-day operations. It was a daunting process. But with aplomb, Everds caught on quickly by researching and reading articles, as well as learning on the fly.
“A couple of my friends talked about Kickstarter and I ran a campaign in 2014. I found a designer in Los Angeles, went to the Fashion District and we worked on a prototype together,” she said.
Through the crowdfunding website, Everds asked for $30,000 in order to meet the minimum-order quantity. The campaign was successful and she was fully funded. “On Kickstarter, it’s not just the money, it’s about the community. So many people see what you’re doing and you can get real honest feedback from people who support your project,” she said. “Retailers and buyers go there in search of innovative products.”
For the end product, her main goal was to make it as convenient and comfortable as possible. It needed to be an all-in-one with no supplemental products, Everds noted. Among the features are a removable contoured foam pillow that is low density and lightweight, with a water-resistant cover and mildew-resistant lining. It can be unzipped and laundered. In addition, there is a water-resistant pocket on the side for items. It’s discreet, so you can put all of your belongings such as keys, sunscreen or sunglasses in the pocket. A touchscreen pocket has a headphone jack in place for your music or smartphone, while a towel flap helps to keep out sand and water.
“It’s one way to ensure your guests feel secure at hotels while relaxing by the pool or at the beach. Offering an item like this at a property shows they care about the guests and the security of their valuables,” she said. “Our Tillow with a strap helps eliminate the need for additional luggage. Imagine your guest is in the room and there’s the Tillow. You put everything in the Tillow and it’s carrying and protecting your items at the same time.”
Everds is currently piloting the Tillow at a local hotel and plans to pitch the product to other resort and hotel properties in search of a unique amenity for guests.
“In this day and age, people are looking for the next big thing. It’s about making the guest’s stay comfortable, luxurious and convenient. The Tillow is something they will remember,” she said. “Hotel towels are all the same. This is an easy and inexpensive way to take hotels into the modern age and focus on what people care about to enhance their stay.”