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Luxury mattress startup Suzy Thompson designed the mattresses to be comfortable even for people with complex breathing conditions, and healthcare professionals were among the first to test the mattresses.
When Thompson launched her company, she got calls every day about whether her mattresses, which were manufactured in Beijing, were safe to be used in the UK.
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“All the people who used them said how comfortable they were to sleep on,” she told BBC Radio 4’s You & Yours programme.
“Some people really, really liked them. I’ve had people crying on the phone in the morning.
“For about three years I couldn’t sleep, I really couldn’t find any sleep in any of my models. Then I finally figured it out.
“It is really good for people with breathing conditions.”
In 2000, Thompson left jobs in communications and human resources to take over her family’s hotel business – which she had run for the previous 20 years.
She saw a gap in the market for hotels in which the guests had complicated sleep needs, and created designs that went beyond the mattresses.
“You might have better relaxation times around the bed, as opposed to just sleeping on the hard floor,” she said.
The company was very profitable from the beginning, and Thompson learnt how to market herself.
She used social media to grow her customer base and built up sales relationships with big names in health and beauty.
In 2008, when her 3,000sq ft former hotel turned into a shop with 26 large, dark leather sofas, Thompson found she was doing the same again.
“I was an all-cozy queen,” she said.
“I put all of my emotional vulnerability into it to present it in this beautiful space. It was my personal sanctuary.”
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Today, Thompson has 5,000 employees worldwide, and is expanding her range.
“My life revolves around design, marketing and selling,” she said.
“I’m not even really looking at her now, I see a face.”