From Grounded to CloudTen: How One Entrepreneur Used Authenticity to Find Success

When it comes to telling the story of entrepreneurship, we rarely hear about the trench warfare that is often building a company from scratch. What comes to light is mostly fluff about well-placed wunderkinds with good timing or celebrity entrepreneurs long past any worries about money, resources, or much else.

Little is said about the perilous cash-flow roller coaster, the high-risk pivots, and sleepless nights, the 100-hour work weeks, brushes with bankruptcy and divorce, mental health problems and worse. Rather than provide support, most entrepreneur groups focus on the sheen of metrics and cash, growth hacks, and PR successes, rather than how to deal with the “dark side” of entrepreneurship.

Many posts in entrepreneur groups on Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere are full of downright false accolades and pictures next to rented luxury cars and fancy houses.  

All of this makes for a toxic mix, which is rarely resolved with a large funding round or a feature in Forbes. It doesn’t help that entrepreneurs are four times as likely as all others to display psychopathic symptoms, which further perpetuates the problems inherent to the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. In short, the faking starts long before anyone makes it.

Rather than perpetuate the reality-perception gap, which nearly brought him to suicide in 2015, Zack Holland, CMO of Cloudten, insists on being authentic in every part of his business, starting with transparency of mission.

According to Holland, the main purpose behind Cloudten is to “provide millennial consumers with authentic and chemical-free luxury products for their bedrooms.”

From creating all-natural sheets that are never chemically washed or artificially softened, to having the same price for any sheet size, they are “committed to providing an amazing product in an honest and artistic fashion.”   

And Holland is not afraid to put his money where his mouth is, offering a free, 100-day trial of any of his products. Taking their mission one step further, Cloudten partners with Project Linus, which makes a blanket for one terminally ill child in a hospital for each sheet set sold.

Beyond a mission that’s socially conscious, Holland views his company’s work as a true craft, creating engaging, artistic content for the bed and bedroom as a unique combination of creativity, relaxation, comfort, and happiness. It’s fair to say that in a staid industry, this is a unique and very much Millennial-focused approach.

Beyond stock photos of bedrooms, Cloudten elaborates on the Airbnb approach, engaging photographers, models, videographers, influencers, and artists to create art using the bed and sheets as a setting for creativity and artistic expression.

Not missing a beat with heavy-hitting influencer marketing, their roster of brand ambassadors who sleep in Cloudten bedding includes many household — or nearly so — names like Brandi and Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Migos, Third Eye Blind, Dan+Shay, Terrell Owens, Ryan Lochte, Bryana Holly, Michele Maturo, Alana Hadid, Pia Robbio, Bree Kleintop, and Robbie Gould, among many others.

But success hasn’t gone to his head or affected Holland’s business judgment or positive demeanor. He is set on growing a brand for the home that’s bigger than just bedding. Instead, he’s focused on building Cloudten into a socially conscious lifestyle brand of luxury housewares and branded apparel.

Just as the great brands of our time, such as Apple, Amazon, and Google, have long transcended the marquee products (hardware, trinkets, and a search engine), Holland sees Cloudten as a way of living and seeing the world, not just a set of sheets.

With the recent successes coming after big lows, Holland is not sweating the competition. Instead, he is focusing on building a great company culture that embodies transparency and a higher mission.

Sheets aren’t just about comfort or covering a bed, it turns out. And thread count isn’t what really counts, according to Holland.  

It’s the ability to sleep well, knowing you’re doing good for others just by taking care of yourself and your family.

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