Why did you decide to set up Sittingwell?
“Sittingwell started for two reasons. First, we found that patients often struggled to find the right back care product for them and at times brought things that aggravated their problem. When they mentioned what they had brought we knew from our point of view why it made things worse, but websites at that time were just reams of products in a list with no guidance. So, we set up the Sittingwell website with advice articles and videos to help answer people’s questions. This was to help guide them to buy the right product, but also to question whether they actually needed one. Often, it’s all about awareness. The biggest thing for us is that we only have quality products that we have tried and tested and know they work. This means less products overall and less confusion for people looking for a solution.
“The second reason the Sittingwell® cushion came about because Lorna and I came across the same problem time and time again over the years. Sofas cause pain and/or are the last place people can sit when they are in pain, which often means pulling up a dining room chair instead – not a relaxing evening and to some degree this can feel isolating as you don’t quite feel like you are spending time with your family.”
If sofas are ultimately the problem, why produce a cushion and not a sofa?
“We looked into re-designing furniture and was informed by an expert in the industry that first stage prototype costs could be £50,000-£100,000! We simply don’t have that amount of money, so put our collective thinking caps back on to an alternative solution.”
Did you face any problems along the way?
“At the time we were working in our clinic (The Lotus Centre in Bourne End) so it wasn’t a full-time venture. There were multiple stumbling blocks within the design process; you don’t realise this when you embark on these things and not a product design expert in the first place.
Working on a limited budget; we weren’t a well-established business with a pot waiting to be spent, and the time it takes to research to get the support and feel right. We wanted balance between the support needed for the spine whilst still retaining that cosy feeling of relaxing on your sofa. It also took more than nine months to find a manufacturer as we wanted to remain a completely UK-made product. Ironically, they are only 30 minutes away from us – under our noses the whole time after scouring the country!”
Won’t it look out of place with cushions?
“An amalgamation of how back care products look and the fact that it was for the home lead to designing something that looked in keeping with the home environment. The Sittingwell® cushion has a cotton cover to hold everything together, but it is designed to be placed into a 45-centimetre cushion cover of your choosing to fit in with your home decor.”
It comes in a rather nice bag, what made you choose this packaging?
“So much packaging is non-recyclable and ends up as landfill. It was important from an environmental point of view to have packaging that had purpose well beyond being a carrying vessel for the back support.”
What are your plans for the future of Sittingwell?
“We are only at the beginning of the journey for the cushion and we want to continue getting word out there about the fact that so many sofas cause pain for people. We also want to continue looking for more products that have a real benefit and you never know there may be a Sittingwell Sofa and furniture one day!”