Press Release - The TLC Story
5 years ago Tim Nickells, newly retired after 35 years in the corporate rat-race was happily kicking back and taking it easy. It had been a beautiful day and an afternoon of golf followed by beers and a rogen josh had him feeling pretty chipper, as he hopped into bed after yet another great day living the dream. As his head hit the pillow, he was quickly drifting off into the land of nod, when - like a bolt of lightning, a thought suddenly struck him that would change his life for ever………… The latex pillow under his head was simply too good not to be shared with the rest of Australia.
Mr Nickells recollects, “We weren’t talking about any old pillow here. This was the Rolls Royce of pillows. This was the pillow that had turned a tragic insomniac into a sleeper. This was the pillow that fixes neck aches and helps asthmatics breathe. This was a 100% natural Talalay latex pillow. La crème de la crème”.
And the very next day the Talalay Latex Company was born. Right from the start it was a family affair with daughter Amanda coming up with the name (TLC) and working on marketing, while Mr Nickells focused on product. “It is surprising what a difference a good quality pillow makes to getting a decent night’s sleep”, he explained. “most latex pillows are good in this regard, but Talalay latex pillows are extra special because they contain a lot more air cells in an open structure that makes them softer and allows the pillow to breathe”.
“There are only 4 factories in the entire world capable of producing Talalay latex – and literally thousands that manufacture normal latex”, he said. “There is a big difference between the two processes and the resulting pillows are chalk and cheese. Without going into too much technical detail the Talalay process involves making the pillows in a vacuum and then freezing them before vulcanising. It is very complicated and expensive – but so worth it”.
TLC has grown dramatically since that time with Jan 2017 sales eclipsing the 1st 6 months trading in 2012 added together - and the Nickells family is busier than it has ever been. “There just aren’t enough hours in the day”, says Mr Nickells, “but we love what we are doing. There is always the feeling that we are genuinely helping people achieve better sleep which is so important to health and well-being, but the greater satisfaction comes from only selling products we really love and believe in. And we get payback in buckets – not just emails from happy customers - the percentage of repeat orders we receive is simply mind blowing. In big business you are forced to make compromises all the time, but we don’t have to do that”.
“By way of example, equivalent luxury products in Australia are always sold in PVC bags. Not only are these wasteful and expensive, but the actual PVC used contains toxins that are banned in countries like the UK and Germany. It is preferred here because the harmless alternative is more expensive and lacks the same degree of clarity, so doesn’t look as good. This is so wrong on so many levels”.
TLC only sells via the internet with minimal use of packaging and virtually no overhead. This, coupled with the fact that the largest and best known Talalay latex factories are located in the USA and Holland – while the much smaller TLC factory is in China, allows TLC to sell at around half the price you would normally expect to pay for comparable pillows.
The company specialises in natural products using natural ingredients. Most latex pillows are a blend of up to 70% synthetic latex and only 30% natural latex. Synthetic latex is made from oil derivatives and chemicals. TLC only uses eco-friendly 100% natural latex that is harvested from the sap of rubber trees.
From humble beginnings the TLC product range has grown and with 12 different styles, the brand offers the most comprehensive range of Talalay latex pillows in Australia. 'Possibly the world', says Mr Nickells, 'we dont think anybody else carries the depth of range we do with a pillow to suit all shapes and sizes and sleeping positions'. Today the brand also includes other quality natural products including duck down and feather pillows and quilts, and cotton toweling bathrobes.
“Down is another great example of how big brands can be compromised. They always include goose down at the top of their range. If geese are plucked alive, the feathers and down re-grow. Birds can be harvested many times. However it is excruciatingly painful and extremely cruel leaving large flesh wounds which are often stitched up by needle and thread without the use of anaesthetic. IKEA estimate that between 50 – 80% of the world’s goose down is live-plucked and this number is most certainly higher in China. TLC will NEVER sell goose down product, of any kind”. “So we chose white duck down which is more plentiful and therefore less expensive, but has almost identical characteristics. Ducks are never live plucked because their feathers do not re-grow”.
“Looking back over those 30 years of travelling all over Asia sourcing everything from clothing to mattress's to wooden toys and bedding accessories, we certainly put in the hard yards”, said Mr Nickells. “Particularly in the early pioneering years in China when you’d spend all day travelling along potted, dusty roads in the middle of a sweltering summer visiting factories in an old Russian ZIL limo with no A/C, to end up at a local hotel for the night and find it had no hot running water. But somehow we always managed to get our hands on a cold beer and developed fantastic relationships with factory owners. Stumbling upon our Talalay latex factory was just a lucky fluke – that was about 12 years ago now. I’m almost ashamed to think I slept on my magic pillow for 7 whole years before waking up to the fact that I had an obligation to share it with the rest of Australia”.
Tim Nickells was born in Tanzania, educated in England and migrated to Australia as a 10 pound pom in 1969. He has lived in Croyden, Victoria for over 25 years.
As a Divisonal Manager of Holeproof, he first visited China in 1982 to buy woven fabric for local manufacture of sleepwear and has constantly travelled all over the world sourcing various products ever since.
At one time he was the GM - Sourcing for Pacific Brands with responsibility for a myriad of Australia's favourite brands including Bonds, Berlei, Jockey, Rio, Underdacks, Explorers and Antz Pantz.
He also spent 10 years sourcing bedding products for Tontine, Dunlopillo, Sheridan and Sleepmaker.
TLC launched its website for business in April 2012 and has never looked back.