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The Forecast is Summersalt’s global content hub for all things travel, packing, style, and discovery, packed with informative and inspirational pieces for (and featuring!) women who are going places.

How This 3rd-Grade Teacher Founded Boll & Branch

Annie Gabillet

Thanks to Missy Tannen, you can feel extra good when your head hits the pillow every night. Missy’s company, Boll & Branch, not only creates luxury bed linens for an affordable price, but all of the products are made with fair trade organic cotton and produced in fair trade factories. 

Missy, a former third-grade teacher, founded Boll & Branch with her husband, Scott, in 2014. Today she is the chief designer. Summersalt recently teamed up with them to create the The Boll & Branch x Summersalt Beach Towel. Now you can bring Boll & Branch’s super-soft and 100% organic cotton with you to the pool or beach this summer, and have a towel that’s just as comfortable and stylish as your swimsuit

To learn more about Missy’s journey from teacher to entrepreneur, read on for our interview.

What inspired you to launch Boll & Branch?

After a bedroom renovation project, I was picking out new bedding and didn’t know what to choose. I was your average consumer, confused by many marketing phrases like “thread count” and “Egyptian cotton.” Turns out neither of those terms determine the quality and softness of a sheet, and there was no real brand that meant anything to consumers. So my husband, Scott, and I spent the next year of our lives learning about the dirty world of the conventional textile industry. From what we learned, we knew that we could make a better sheet than anything on the market, one that was beautiful on the inside and out. We would make the highest quality sheets using organic cotton and make them in factories that shared the same values as us.

Image Courtesy of Boll and Branch

“We wanted to create modern company, one that doesn’t turn a blind eye to manufacturing conditions abroad.”

What are you most proud of?

Scott and I built our company on “doing the right thing, even when no one is looking.” In creating our business, we realized how many people’s lives depend on decisions we make. We wanted to create modern company, one that doesn’t turn a blind eye to manufacturing conditions abroad. The result of us being in business five years later is that we have become the largest purchaser of Fair Trade Organic cotton in the world.

What was the best and the worst business decision you ever made? 

Best decision: to “go for it!” There are so many reasons to not start a company, but we risked a lot and went for it.

Worst decision: In our first year of business, after our sheet sets took off and became a hit, I wanted to make duvet covers and pillow shams so customers could design a whole bed look with Boll & Branch. Using my personal design of a bed, I thought that everyone making a king bed would want three Euro Shams, 2 King shams and a smaller Lumbar pillow. So we ordered accordingly. Turns out, not everyone designs their bed just the way I do and we had so many shams! I learned a great lesson early on that I need to listen to friends, family, and customers and get their feedback in designing our products.

Image Courtesy of Boll and Branch

Let’s talk about “going places.” What’s on the horizon for you?

This summer, I will spend many days at the Jersey Shore. Even though I did get many good laughs from watching the tv show, it’s not like that on the beaches where we go. There are a couple barrier islands in New Jersey, and when you cross the bridge from the mainland, you instantly leave your worries at the bridge and get to be amongst some of the most peaceful and beautiful beaches that feel a million miles away from reality. Believe it or not, New Jersey also has some pretty spectacular sunsets as well!

Tell us about the last adventure you took:

In March we spent spring break as a family in India (my husband, our three daughters, and myself). We traveled to one of our factories that was built three years ago to make only Boll & Branch sheets, duvet covers, and pillowcases. We were able to spend time with the 200 men and women who work there and say thank you for all of their hard work.

Image Courtesy of Boll and Branch

What is a destination that you’re always telling people they should visit?

The island of Nevis. If you’re sitting on the beach, it has the cutest little volcano at your back, and forward views of islands out in the ocean. Everywhere you look is breathtaking!

What’s your favorite Summersalt travel piece?

The new Beach Towel, of course! We loved working with Summersalt to create the best towel under the sun! It has all of the goodness that Boll & Branch is known for (organic cotton and ethical manufacturing) paired with the fun, cheerful color palette of Summersalt.

What do you never travel without?

My eyelash curler.

Got any go-to podcasts, albums, or books for passing time on a plane?

Podcasts: How I Built This and True Crime (Over My Dead Body).