Married and business partners? Here's how this couple overcome challenges

Five years and going strong, get to know Linen & Homes couple Ryan and Shelly Tan

While on honeymoon in the U.S. in 2017, Ryan and his wife Shelly Tan chance upon their very first purchase of bamboo sheets. “The sheets were our first premium set.  Buying the set felt like an investment. The improvement of our sleep quality along with the excitement we had looking forward to sleeping on them compelled us to look for more,” he tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. 

But their search led to more confusion which made them realize that maybe it was time for them to bring in their own brand of bamboo sheets to introduce here in the Philippines. “We saw an opportunity to make it easy for consumers to buy reliable, fairly priced, premium quality sheets,” adds Ryan. 

Ryan and Shelly Tan

The newlyweds’ first option was to work with a company that already offered bamboo sheets, but they didn’t quite meet the couple’s expectations. “The more we explored the market as consumers, the more we felt the experience could be better. Ultimately, our objective is to be a brand that makes it simple for consumers to get the best sleep. There’s a balance between durability, softness, and price.”

This was when Linen & Homes was put up. And like most start-up businesses, it wasn’t a bed of roses for the couple. “There were many turbulent times given that we were going through new experiences. We were newly married and just had our first child. We were quite new to business, too,” Shelly reminisces. 

So how do they deal with everyday problems and their differences? “At the end of the day, it would only cause stress to expect things to be smooth every time and all the time. Continuous improvement and personal growth became key. We learned to respect each other genuinely as business partners and recognized our shortcomings. We were also grateful that the other could compliment them,” Shelly shares. “Further, in times of conflict or heated arguments, taking a step back and reminding ourselves of the reasons behind the business and keeping in mind that there’s a difference between viewing each other as the problem and seeing the actual problem helped.”

Testing the market, the couple decided to introduce their bamboo sheets in three basic colors of three-piece and four-piece sets. It was a conservative decision that worked. “From there, we’ve added products based on personal experiences, research, and customer feedback,” reveals Shelly about how they value feedback from their loyal customers. 

Within five years, Linen & Homes has added more to their product line. “Beyond sheets, one thing we need to work on is letting people know that we actually offer more. We have other products like the Mellow Pillow and the CloudLight Comforter that help people fall in love with their bed and their sleep.Our curated collection of products make us different. And products aside, our community of customers are really special. We’ve met and talked with many and have found them to espouse values we hold dear—that is, our customers value kindness, patience, and gratitude,” chimes Ryan. 

They’ve also added throw blankets, pillows, pajamas, mattress toppers, mattress protectors, weighted blankets, to name a few. “One guiding principle we have is to give the customer a convenient experience to get the best sleep ever. All they need to do is go to our website and meet a curated collection of products that will be delivered to them,” shares Shelly.

Gift wrapping options

They also offer same-day delivery, free shipping, a rewards program, and gift wrapping service. Ryan relays, “We love hearing that gift recipients are excited and happy when they receive Linen & Homes as a gift. The giver is always appreciated and remembered.” And they do make great holiday gifts, too!

The couple ends the interview with this tip for those who are planning to start a business together, “no matter how small, get that first customer, provide value, and keep on learning.”