INNOVATION IS BORN OUT OF NECESSITY
In 2016, Jeff and Alexandra D’Andrea wanted to buy a green mattress — made from non-toxic, natural and organic materials — that they could actually afford. But instead of choices, they found dubious claims and companies that were pretending to be green. What was often being marketed as green, natural and non-toxic was, in truth, hardly so.
Their research showed that most mattresses (even from the most reputable brands) are made with industrial-strength chemicals and contain toxins that are known to be dangerous to your health and the environment.
Jeff and Alex discovered that most mattress brands rely on petroleum-based polyurethane foams that can emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) — which is a chemical odor, also known as “off-gassing” — which can cause respiratory irritation, throat irritation, forgetfulness, dizziness, headaches, skin sensitization and allergic reactions. The fact that many companies also use chemical adhesives and chemical flame retardants, and include phthalates, heavy metals and formaldehyde in their product formula — all of which are suspected to cause cancer, developmental problems, neurological deficits and impaired fertility — gave Jeff and Alex reason to pause.
Yes, there were a handful of green options, but most were too expensive.
WE BELIEVED WE COULD DO BETTER
So Jeff and Alex went to work. They assembled a small team with a deep expertise in technology, design, manufacturing, marketing and customer service to create their first product and build their brand. They are not venture-funded or infused with loads of cash from outside investors, like so many of the other companies. Instead, they used their own money to design an honest product that’s unlike almost everything else in the marketplace. And they called the core product and the company, Avocado Green Mattress. (Why? Because they say Avocados are green and everyone loves them!)
Fast forward to today: Their Avocado Green Mattress is handmade in sunny California with natural and organic materials, to includ certified organic latex from tree-tapped and sustainable sources, certified organic wool, and certified organic cotton. It also features up to 1,414 fabric-encased innersprings made from recycled steel, with support in zones for proper shoulders, hips and back support. Every Avocado ships compressed in a box, and includes free shipping, free return pickups, 100-night sleep trials and a 25-year limited warranty. They even offer optional in-home setup and removal of your existing mattress.
But what’s disrupting the market is what’s not included: no petroleum-based polyurethane foams, no toxic flame retardants, no chemical adhesives, and no industrial chemicals are used. It’s about as natural, non-toxic and eco-conscious as they can make it. And it’s surprisingly affordable, with prices starting at just $959.
WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
“The Avocado was designed to be luxurious, affordable and, above all, green. From the start, it was intended to appeal to a base of environmental- and health-conscious consumers that were clearly passionate about using non-toxic and natural products. But we knew that this appeal would be too narrow for our vision, to have the impact that we wanted. We envision Avocado as a broader, lifestyle brand centered around the green bedroom.
Our goal is for Avocado to make healthy and responsible mattresses accessible to a broader audience. We’re going to achieve this by working to redefine what it means to be an honest and socially-conscious brand. We’re going to inspire and drive positive change, and reach as broad of an audience as possible. If we do this right, we’ll motivate and engage people with what we are trying to achieve.”
— Mark Abrials
ARE THERE DIFFICULTIES IN SOURCING NATURAL & ORGANIC MATERIALS?
“Making a green mattress is a unique challenge — it needs to be comfortable, yet supportive; use natural materials, yet still be durable; and pass rigid safety regulations for fire standards, health, and reduced environmental impact. And it all needs to be done while paying the amazing folks that build our mattresses (by hand) a just and living wage. No small challenge.
We settled on eco-INSTITUT® certified natural latex for its natural resilience, durability and temperature control. We use natural wool from New Zealand for moisture wicking, freshness and its inherent ability to function as a natural fire barrier. And we turned to GOTS-certified organic cotton for breathability and a luxurious finish, free from pesticides.
But rather than using chemical adhesives to bind these layers together (which so many other brands do), we went “old-school” — we turned to button-tufting by hand. Our mattresses feature distinctive, hand-tufted rosettes made from pure wool. These beautiful, soft rosettes are also highly functional, acting as anchors from which yarn is pulled through each layer of the mattress. This secures everything in place without the use of toxic chemical adhesives.
This is in addition to other handwork, like double-stitched seams and reinforced handles, which requires us 4-5 days of handwork to make each mattress.”
— Alex D’Andrea
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING A GREEN MATTRESS
“There’s a lot of greenwashing in the industry, which makes it hard to separate fact from fiction. So customers need to be informed.
When evaluating brands, the first questions is simple: do they use petroleum-based polyurethane foams? Some brands may boast of “green” certifications on their foam, so be cautious. Although these are a step in the right direction, they’re still polyurethane foams. They seldom spell this out. So ask to see the legal tag on the mattress. And never be afraid to ask their support team for clarification, if needed.
Then, find out if they use chemical flame retardants, phthalates, heavy metals, formaldehyde or other industrial-strength chemicals. Do they use adhesives? If they use natural latex, ensure that it’s 100% natural, and not a blend or synthetic. (We use Dunlop latex, which is minimally processed, natural and extremely durable.)
Look carefully to see that they use certified natural and/or organic materials. And above all, look at their verified customer reviews from some sort of third-party system. The key is to find a brand that you can believe in and trust.”
— Jeff D’Andrea
DESIGNED IN NJ AND HANDCRAFTED IN CA: WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION TO KEEP DESIGN AND PRODUCTION IN THE US?
“Our offices are in Hoboken, NJ, where we also operate a modest showroom. But it was clear from the beginning that we had to make our product in the US. We wanted to make our mattresses on demand as they’re ordered, rather than carrying a warehouse full of inventory. This “made fresh” model would allows us to lower our carbon footprint.
To make this happen, California was the clear winner. Their environmental and manufacturing laws are some of the most stringent and progressive in the country. California also gives us more efficient access to one of the largest markets of eco-conscious consumers in the country.”
— Melissa Kruse
WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON FOR AVOCADO?
“Our focus right now is on making an amazing product and delivering an exceptional customer experience. People may find us because they want a natural and non-toxic product, have chemical sensitivities, or want to live more in balance with the environment. But we want them to love our mattress because of how well they sleep and how good it makes them feel.
We also want people to be taken back (in a good way) when they interact with our team. The service experience for us is a key driver in our success. Customers tell us daily how refreshing it is to have such a great customer service experience. That part of our work is especially rewarding.
Although we currently offer green pillows, grand plans are in the works to expand our line to other styles of eco-conscious and natural pillows, bed sheets, foundations and beds that will be designed to complement our core product — the Avocado Green Mattress.”
— Jay Decker
IN PURSUIT OF OUR PASSIONS
“We’re all about what we can achieve by doing this — sustainable manufacturing, eco-friendly living, ethical relationships, charitable giving, social justice, and creating a culture of openness, tolerance and understanding. We truly aspire to be more than just a green mattress brand. We want to be driven by action and make a lasting and positive impact.
For those to respond to this vision, we invite them to join us on our journey.”
— Jay Decker
By Mark Abrials –
Mark is Avocado’s head of brand and digital, managing our brand identity and communicating our product story across platforms and media. Mark combines his advocacy for sustainability with his extensive ad agency and digital experience to help bring Avocado to life.