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4 min read

AMA: James Higgins, founder of Ethical Bedding

AMA: James Higgins, founder of Ethical Bedding

Table of Contents

We caught up with James Higgins, the founder of Ethical Bedding, an eco-friendly bedding brand raved about in Good Housekeeping, The Times and beyond.

Hey James! Tell us a bit about Ethical Bedding.

Ethical Bedding is the coolest bedding company on the planet. Environmental prosperity is our heartbeat and the theme that runs through our entire range of products as well as how we operate.

We are famous for our bed sheets made using 100% eucalyptus, which have fantastic sleep and health benefits. We also offer a range of bamboo-filled pillows, protectors and toppers, as well as a luxurious 7,000 pocket-sprung mattress with layers of coconut, hemp and bamboo!

We are an award-winning B Corp, cruelty-free and donate at least 1% of our revenue to global sustainability initiatives.

So how did the idea for Ethical Bedding come about?

After a decade of working in financial services in the city, I was extremely jaded both mentally and physically. My sleep and overall wellbeing had begun to suffer, which I wanted to rectify.

I also felt that there wasn’t enough kindness in the world in terms of how people treated themselves, one another and the planet. So I wanted to create a business that would ultimately improve the lives of people whilst having a minimal impact on the planet by making existing products in a better way!

Can you share any practical tips or processes to help people work remotely?

Absolutely! I am usually based out of Bali these days, but in the past three years have worked from Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Portugal and Austria (as well as the UK!).

The key is discipline, routine and effective planning. Personally, as well, I don’t really have this Monday-to-Friday mindset. I have my prioritised tasks that are ordered based on their level of importance, then I allocate my time accordingly each day to work through them.

I would say as well that it’s important to understand your own needs as a human, which vary from person to person.

I’m someone that prefers to work in total isolation when working on focused tasks and listening to music, so a co-working or shared space isn’t really suitable or necessary for me. However, some people need that extra bit of motivation of having other people around them.

Much of Ethical Bedding was built with my laptop and phone whilst living in jungles… But that’s just me and wouldn’t work for everyone!

Sounds like you're here, there and everywhere! How do you keep your team aligned?

90% of communications are through our main team WhatsApp group and Trello! Historically we have used Slack as well, but don’t find it necessary now. Whenever there is a cross-functional necessity we jump on a Google call (usually with me doing the weird hours, because most people are in the UK).

Our operating model is set up such that we have leaders in each of the key vertices who understand exactly what, when, how and why they are delivering.

We have an extremely open culture of sharing and collaboration.

Hiring exceptionally well over the past three years has been pivotal to our success, and ultimately, I look for attitude and alignment with company values above all else.

Speaking of company values, what does company culture mean to you?

Company culture is everything.

What a dreadful scenario it would be if the culture of a company I had created wasn’t something that made the people there feel amazing about their work! It’s the number one success factor for everything that we do at Ethical Bedding.

Much of what you see at Ethical Bedding is spawned from how I think and live my life. Playful, kind, caring, thoughtful. The goal is for that to echo throughout every interaction we have internally and externally.

So when hiring, what do you look for in a candidate?

I touched on this earlier, but ultimately it comes down to attitude and alignment to company values.

Entry level is that the person is exceptional at what they do and can clearly demonstrate that.

My favourite question when interviewing candidates is:

  • “What are you the best in the world at?" Or; 
  • "What do you believe that you could become the best in the world at?" (With my help)

If someone’s goal isn’t to become absolutely exceptional at what they do, then they’re at the wrong place…

Interestingly, I usually ask people to define their own job description after they’ve been hired, or at least have a huge input in it. As part of that, I ask for them to centre it around what they are really passionate about, what they are really good at and what brings them joy.

So far, so good! 

Do you have a share or option scheme in place for your team?

Currently, we don’t have a scheme in place. However, as part of our first successful equity raise, we did add to the Articles of Association that 10% of the company would be available for an option scheme.

This is something that I’m incredibly keen to execute. Not only as a motivational tool for everyone that pours their hearts and souls into Ethical Bedding but fundamentally because it’s the right thing to do!


Couldn't agree more! Tell us about you. What's your morning routine?

I know that this is going to really irritate some people, but here goes…

5 AM

Wake up to Reggae music. Instantly drink 500ml of cold water and a fistful of vitamins. Then I do 100x press-ups and 5-10 minutes of core/stretching to get the blood pumping.

My first breakfast is black coffee, a protein shake, and some fruit. I use that time to pick off any high-value items on my phone before heading out for the morning.

6 AM

Ride my scooter to the gym and have an ice bath (about 3 degrees!) for 5 minutes before working out for 90-120 mins.

8 AM

10,000 steps beach walk whilst listening to music (with a relatively quick march) and stop for meditation whilst listening to the waves.

10 AM

Sit down to eat again at one of my favourite cafes or restaurants with my laptop, which is where I will pick off a few hours of focused work until lunch.

12 PM

By the time I get to midday, I’ve already nailed my day:

  • Picked off the lion's share of high-value work (or made a plan to execute)
  • Physically exerted myself (core, stretching, resistance training and steady-state cardio)
  • Exposed myself to plenty of sunlight
  • Drank 2-3 litres of water (some with salt)
  • Eaten two nutritious high-protein meals
  • Had time for myself to reflect and connect with the planet

That's quite the regime! What is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

Wow, not sure!

Probably believe people too much and expect everyone to behave with the same level of integrity I place upon myself.

Also, there have been a lot of instances in the past whereby I haven’t trusted my gut instinct enough (and I do trust it a LOT!).

But generally, if you have empirical evidence to back up your gut instincts then it’s better to always trust them, which ultimately will save you time, money and reduce decision fatigue.

And finally, what motivates you?

That’s simple. Leaving the world a better place than I found it.

Huge thanks to James for sharing his story. If you're a founder with a story to tell, write in and let us know:

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