Cindy Perry, founder of Pello, overcomes melanoma diagnoses and charges forward with floor ‘Pello’ empire.
When Cindy Perry first created the Pello (wholesale $60/retail $120, mypello.com), she was sewing the oversized floor pillow by hand for friends. With two sons of her own, she knew she had an amazing product to share. The one thing holding her back was a melanoma diagnoses in 2010.
“I had it on the bottom of my right leg, and I couldn’t sew anymore, and all my orders got backed up,” she recalls. “So it was a real pivotal moment in, do we launch the retail market or scale it down?”
As a spirited entrepreneur born and raised in Texas, she didn’t back down, and she soon found a manufacturer in Cleveland, Ohio (where she currently lives with her family), and she hasn’t looked back since.
Baby & Kids: How did you invent the Pello?
Cindy Perry: When my son was learning to sit, he kept falling forward when I put the C-shaped pillow behind him. I sewed a simple donut-shaped pillow where he could sit in the middle, and that’s how it all got started. So whenever he would fall, he would land on something soft. It was my prototype, a simple fabric donut-pillow, but it worked.
B&K: How did you get the name?
CP: When my boys were learning to read, they told me I kept pronouncing “pillow” wrong, and they kept correcting me because of my Southern accent. So I said, you know what, we’ll call it Pello.
B&K: What features did you add?
CP: There are now two handles, so you can fold it in half and put it on your arm to carry it. There are ribbon loops to attach favorite toys, and then it becomes kind of like an activity gym. There’s a pocket, to make it more interactive. My second son liked pacifiers, so I put a ribbon loop inside the pocket so it would stay clean. I also wanted it to be very comfortable for baby, so high-quality poly-fill is used to stuff it, but in the center is batting so the baby is never lying on the floor.
B&K: When did you launch Pello?
CP: We launched July 2012 at AmericasMart in Atlanta to the retail market, and it was perfect. Independent stores were thrilled to have a new product to offer their customers. I’ve been told that we’re one of the most re-ordered products in their store because Pello is a fabulous baby shower gift. We have grown every single year since we’ve launched; we’ve never stayed flat.
B&K: What else should we know?
CP: Because it’s made in the USA, retailers can customize the fabric with what they think their customers want. They can pick ivory, aqua, orange or colors that match their boutique. We send fabric swatches so they can make a one-of- a-kind floor pillow. If we went to China or somewhere overseas, it would be only three styles. Instead, we have 17 prints and 13 solid colors, so all of those combinations are available.
B&K: New things in the pipeline?
CP: We launched something in January (2017) called Pello Comfy Cradle, a portable nursing pillow that is patented and mom-invented. I have a licensing agreement with another mom. It’s taken me four years to bring on another product because I’m really picky, so I’m very excited about this. The Pello Comfy Cradle has Velcro, so it opens up and can be used as a changing pillow even or a toddler pillow; it’s so versatile. It slips on your arm like kids’ water wings, and it’s also reversible. You have the cotton side and then the soft minky side, a luxurious brushed poly fabric.
B&K: What’s in the future?
CP: We will have our big fiveyear anniversary party back in Atlanta (at AmericasMart, Booth No. 1704), and we’re pulling a lot together, some giveaways and exciting things. We will also be in Dallas at KidsWorld Studio (8701-34), a joint showroom, and in Anaheim, Calif., for the JPMA Show and in Texas for the Spring ABC Conference & Trade Show.