Based out of a factory in rural Devon and a showroom in Chiswick, Naturalmat has carved out a niche in the hotel market supplying wholly natural mattresses to projects including The Hoxton, Paris, Soho’s Z Hotel and the newly opened Mandrake amongst others. Orbiting a sustainable ethos and offering guests a good night’s rest by way of breathable, sustainable and naturally comfortable beds, Naturalmat founder Mark Tremlett spoke to Sleeper about the company, his unique products and the growing presence of sleep as a lifestyle and wellness talking point.
How did Naturalmat come to be?
I’d grown up around the marine industry and seen lots of people buying expensive boats but going cheap on the mattresses, which just didn’t make sense to me. I set up a company to make good mattresses for yachts, and that’s how the company initially came to be. We chose to use natural fibres because they’re self ventilating and breathable, and boats suffer from the perennial issues of damp, humidity and condensation, so you need breathable materials to deal with all that moisture. They’re also more supportive, longer lasting and more comfortable, but also more expensive and more difficult to cut, hence why people opt not to use them. But if you’re spending half a million pounds on a yacht, it doesn’t make sense not to spend a bit more on a mattress. About a year down the line my girlfriend was pregnant, and when looking at baby mattresses I noticed that they were all made of polyurethane, just like the marine industry, and since we were already using natural materials we thought we’d make the same for the infant market. We were the first to pass all the British standards: no glues, no chemical fire retardants, no synthetics whatsoever – 100% natural. Later on, we fell into hotels thanks to a meeting with Simon Woodroffe, the founder of YO! Sushi, who owned a boat at the time, and I became his bed consultant. Off the back of his Yotel concept we started doing hotels, with the invoices increasing in size from a few beds to 600 at a time. Back in 2010-2011 hotels were trying to become more sustainable and greener, and there were very few of us making this style of eco-friendly bedding product, so we started marketing ourselves to hotels. Now it’s nearly half our business, and since 2015 we’ve also started creating our own bases and headboards, and now organic pillows, duvets and linens. It’s a total service.
What goes into each mattress?
There are a few really key ingredients that go into our beds. We do two ranges: one is a traditional model with a spring in it, whilst the other – our signature range – is made entirely of natural fibres with no springs whatsoever. We use coconut fibre from the only certified organic coconut plantation in the world which, when twisted into ropes, creates a coil. These are bound with natural latex and heat pressed, effectively giving it it’s natural spring. It’s bouncy, and has fantastic ventilation thanks to its structure, as well as being tough. The other ingredient is latex. We like latex because its hypoallergenic and the only foam product to breathe, so it’s healthy to sleep on. The problem with traditional synthetic foams is that they absorb heat and moisture, which, in a sleeping environment, are the two things you want to avoid, but is the industry standard because of the price. Ideally you want to maintain an even temperature, so you need your materials to breathe. Lastly, we use lambs wool. Our factory is set up in the old boatyard in Devon, and there’s a lot of sheep down there. We only buy from local farmers and organic farms, so the farmer gets a better price and we get sheep that have been looked after. Wool is a great insulator, and so perfect for beds, but this process also puts back into the local community, so everyone’s a winner.
How important is sustainability to Naturalmat?
Everything we do at Naturalmat is from a sustainable, renewable supply, and everything is also recyclable or biodegradable. We have solar power on our factory roof, and generate our own electricity, and I believe we have the lowest carbon footprint of any mattress maker in the world. There’s also a new initiative we’ve launched where, at the end of the mattress’ life we can take the products back, break them down, and create other products like pillow fillings, cushions and even dog beds out of them. Meanwhile, we can give the customer credit for bringing them back, or give it back to them in product.
What does a Naturalmat product offer hotel guests?
We think at the heart of every great hotel is a great night’s sleep. You should definitely have a good mattress, but there are so many hotels where the norm is to go cheap on the bed. We’re considerably more expensive than what hotels usually opt for, but at the end of the day we deliver a fantastic night’s sleep. Guests benefit too, because they know the hotel is invested in them. The fact they last a long time also helps.
Which hotels does Naturalmat supply?
Naturalmat products are in Chewton Glen in Hampshire, The Lygon Arms, Cliveden House, Z Hotel and The Hoxton. We also do all Six Senses properties, which is perfect because in terms of branding they’re very in line with us. We worked closely with them to develop the sleep programme in conjunction, which is something you can sign up to whenever you stay at a Six Senses resort. This is a package that includes a consultation with specially trained staff who find out about you and how you sleep, and from that give you tips and lay out the basics of sleep, hygiene and environment. There are also monitors in the rooms that can tell you about how you’re sleeping, with the aim of guiding you towards a better night’s sleep. They have bedding and topper menus that you can choose from, and you can tweak the mattresses to best suit your figure. And to tie it all up you’re given a package of herbal teas, facemasks and other accessories. The idea is that you don’t just get great rest from the products, but that you leave knowing more about how you as an individual sleep.
What does the collaboration process with hotels look like?
Now that we’re making bases and headboards, often we will work with the designers and architects to come up with products that work within the context of the hotel. Most projects we’re involved early on. People sometimes focus on the mattress, but forget what it’s going to sit in. We had a lot of fun working at The Mandrake, where we made a bed base that had to carry this fantastic distinctive form, but involve function as well.
Have attitudes towards sleep changed since you began the company?
Sleep is a big thing now, as a lifestyle topic especially. Five years ago we weren’t talking about sleep nearly as much as we are now, and with a lot of newcomers to the market there’s been a large amount of growth. This has triggered people to think more about their sleeping patterns and what they sleep on, which is always a good thing. The more people that are interested in it, and realise the health benefits, then the more that will come back to us, and we’ve had practically zero returns, so we must be doing something right!