HOUSE CALL with Cheryl Hahn, Ecopreneur, Tomorrow’s World/Organic Comfort Zone
By Victoria Hecht, The Virginian-Pilot, December 27, 2008
Cheryl Hahn wants to put you to sleep. But not too soon. She’d rather you finish this article first and drift off thinking about the stuff of her dreams: bedding and mattresses.
Hahn is the owner of Tomorrow’s World/Organic Comfort Zone (www.organiccomfortzone.com), a Norfolk-based business that’s grown and changed – in name, mission and location – since it’s 1991 inception.
Today, the company occupies a revitalized storefront just across the street from Ocean View beach. Tucked behind the hard-to-miss purple walls are warehouse, call center, showroom and retail spaces.
“We started out as one of the country’s first ‘green’ stores, offering products like reusable shopping bags, nontoxic cleaners, CFL’s, low-flow shower-heads and even tankless hot water heaters,” Hahn said.
Over the years, though, as the eco-friendly home products mainstreamed, the Pinewell resident narrowed her business focus to eco-smart soft goods.
“I strongly believe our bedrooms should be safe havens,” Hahn said. “We spend one-third of our lives sleeping. Our bodies shut down to revitalize, and we are extremely vulnerable.”
The bedroom, she added, is an ideal place to reduce exposure to industrial chemicals.
Tomorrow’s World/Organic Comfort Zone’s products are made from natural materials – certified organic cotton, organically managed wool and kapok, among them – and are vastly grown in the United States. The company produces its made-to-last mattresses and other bedding right at the Ocean View Avenue site.
Hahn said finding just the right mattress for one’s needs needn’t be work. She encourages customers to wear pajamas for a personal spin with the products. And if they fall asleep? No problem.
“We close the blinds and the door, put on some music and leave you alone,” she said. “We’ve created our showroom to feel like a bedroom, so no one feels like they’re on display.”
What did you do before Tomorrow’s World/Organic Comfort Zone?
My first job was in marketing for a USA-based international sportswear manufacturing company. I was always surrounded by textiles, prototypes and spec sheets. I suppose it was a primer for what I’m doing today.
What are the benefits of organic bedding and dressings?
Most organic bedding components utilize various types of organic cottons, pure wool, kapok and natural rubber. These materials are sustainable, naturally renewable resources that are excellent for bedding because they breathe. We lose about one pint of moisture every night while sleeping. Our CozyPure® sleep system allows for that moisture to escape.
How has your business evolved since its inception?
It’s been so much fun expanding into the organic comfort arena. Developing and creating worthwhile products that have real value is so important. We don’t manufacture for planned obsolescence. The philosophy of quality is something our grandparents understood because decades ago you could buy a product, and it would last for years.
Tell us about the business’ environmentalism.
Our new location was remodeled using nontoxic paints, and it also has geothermal heating and cooling, which greatly reduces energy production. We also use fluorescents and CFLs throughout. We source our materials domestically, reducing our carbon footprint. Scrap fabrics and fibers are retained and used later in products we develop specifically for their use, so we don’t have manufacturing waste.
Do you have a most memorable client you’ve served?
We have quite a list of celebrities, but one has been purchasing our products for many years. He and his family are incredibly nice people who are committed to living a green life-style. Two years ago, they were having visitors for Thanksgiving, and we had to do a rush production for the mattresses, comforters, pillows and towels – all just to accommodate their overnight guests for the holiday. We were able to pull it off.