Hooray for Duvets!

August 28, 2014

A simple stitching switch makes Jennifer Russell an innovator in a growing $34 billion industry.

by Jamie Dillon

photography by Jessica Woodhouse

Jennifer Russell didn’t want to get out of bed.

Sometimes, indulging that so-relaxed-it’s-ridiculous feeling has risky implications. With a world of daunting deadlines and constant demands, staying under the covers means possibly missing out on opportunities. It could even put a career in jeopardy. But on this particular day, it wasn’t a journey to the unemployment line at all; it was the start of life-changing – and possibly industry-changing – inspiration.

Specifically, it was the beginning of Duvation – Russell’s Boise-based company that offers an innovative redesign of a classic product – the duvet cover.

“The most memorable part of my stay was the bed,” said Russell, whose marketing job at HP required frequent travel and the chance to choose preferred, reasonably priced hotels. “It was fitted with quality cotton sheets, a waffle-weave blanket and a cotton duck duvet cover. It was cozy. I was tucked-in, and it wasn’t easy to pull myself away.”

Russell’s thought was simple: Everyone should enjoy that boutique experience at home. Russell learned the duvet wasn’t available for resale; it had been custom made for the hotel. That didn’t stop her. She went home, gathered material and her own talent, and got to work.

For years, Russell, who loves renovating her mid-century modern home, made her own duvet covers. She became deft at recreating the boutique experience, but there was still something not exactly perfect.

“The covers looked and felt just as I remembered them that morning, but I dreaded putting them on – especially by myself. I didn’t wash them as much as I wanted to. It was hard to make them smooth. They were a hassle.”

As cumbersome as they are comfy, classic duvet covers generally feature one multi-button opening at the bottom, and with it comes a frustrating journey of fists clinching cotton corners as they feel their way to the far end of the cover’s inside. The journey ends with two blind tying feats and a furious shake down to get the lumps and bumps out before settling for a good-enough finish.

Russell’s idea to switch the standard design came a lot like the perfect lyrics come to a songwriter, she said. The now-patented design features two side openings for easy and time-saving placement of the comforter. Quick access to all four corners means one person can easily apply the duvet sleeve in just a few minutes, and zippers replace the standard buttons for smooth seams and quick closure.

“It really is a ‘why didn’t I think of this?’ product that eases frustration for others – from home consumers to hotel housekeeping staff,” said Russell, who hopes her company and patent soon garners attention from high-end hotels and designers and others in the $34 billion furniture, bedding and accessories industry.

The Duvation collection is available at duvation.com and features king  ($329) and queen ($289) sized duvet sleeves in white or gray 250 thread-count 100 percent Peruvian pima cotton percale. Each cover includes a pair of piped pillow shams. 

“It was a boutique hotel that provided the initial inspiration for my hotel-to-home bedding creation,” Russell said. “I love the notion that perhaps this story will come full circle with boutique hotels adopting Duvation into their bedding package.”