#Passion2Action: Interview with Lilliane Boulle, founder of Europe’s First Sleep & Wellness Boutique

Sleep Siren is Europe’s first sleep and wellness boutique providing customers with tailored sleep support, and everything they need to build a luxurious bedtime routine sure to send them straight off to dreamland! From silk pyjamas to aromatherapy – carefully curated product range includes the best in sleep luxury and wellness from around the globe. 


G: What problem did you set out to fix in this world? 

L: Modern society is built on the foundations of poor sleep. Ever longer work hours, lengthy commutes, jam-packed social lives and endless screen time mean we rarely have any chance to ‘switch off’. Sleep is now seen as a luxury that can be deferred to a later date. But the truth is that sleep is the most important factor in well being – more than diet, exercise and genetics.

It’s not just people that benefit from prioritising changes. Even if we look at it from a business perspective, there’s a great reason to take notice. The UK loses an average £40 billion a year in lost productivity due to sleep-deprived workers. The fact is that we all benefit from getting more sleep.

At Sleep Siren, we are on a mission to create a happier, healthier society by changing the way society thinks about sleep.

G: How did you find your ‘Why”? 

L: Four years ago, I was working as a marketing manager in the video-games industry. Working 16 hour days, commuting across London and then, out of nowhere, my health took a swan dive off a cliff. I spent the next three years in a health spiral. 

Overnight I went from a work-obsessed marketer with a clear career track ahead of me, to doctors telling me I may never be able to work again. 

Initially Sleep Siren was just a far away dream. Something to focus on other than hospital appointments and illness, I never allowed myself to imagine it would happen. It was actually my mum who kept gently pushing me. She was insistent that this business was something I should pursue, not just for myself but for others who might benefit from it. It took over a year but in January 2019 we launched. 

G: How did you converted your passion into a business? 

L: I was very lucky to be able to leverage my background in marketing when it came to Sleep Siren. I actually created a 68-page marketing plan before I did anything else. I included things like industry landscape, target audience, customer personas, voice and tone, instagram aesthetic, marketing campaign ideas. I think creating that document first really allowed me to have a tight view of the type of business I wanted to build, and importantly, who I was building it for. Things have changed somewhat since then – our actual customer demographic is quite different from what I expected – but I still refer back to the deck every few months to remind myself of the journey the business has been on.

G: How long did it take until you start making a living out of it? 

L: I was fortunate to receive a UK Start Up Loan which helped fund the business expenses so I didn’t have to shoulder all the costs myself. I also had some savings before getting started which I used to keep myself afloat.

It took me about nine months from launch to be able to start generating consistently. I think in large part that is because the nature of our products means that we do better in winter months. So things started really picking up on September/October for us and have kept on a steady pace since. 

G: What were the biggest obstacles launching the company and how did you overcome them?

L: The biggest challenge was jumping into the retail and fashion industry with absolutely no experience! Beyond a few shop jobs as a teenager, I had no idea what I was doing. I fumbled through for the first few months and was then very fortunate to receive a UK Start Up Loan, which also provides a mentor from your selected industry. I was paired with Sasha Ramdoo from Fashion Angel and she became an invaluable support.

G: Why do you think people fell in love with your company?  

L: I think the fact we were the first business of this kind helped a lot. People were ready for a sleep and wellness offering, so when we arrived we received a lovely response. 

Since day one, I have wanted to be more than just an online shop. I wanted to create a resource for poor sleepers, and anyone looking to improve their sleep. Science-backed education (and no fluff) that anyone could turn to to improve their sleep, whether they are a customer or not. I never wanted a hard-sell so we have always been education first and product second. I think this open and up-front approach translated well with customers. 

G: How your company/brand is winning over the hearts and minds of the local community?

L: Instagram has been our main platform and has been pretty successful for us. It’s an incredible tool for finding like minded people and businesses. Actually Inhabit hotel, our first sleep kit partner, found us on Instagram. As have many of the brands we are launching in 2020. The other way we have is through PR. We also use a service called PR Dispatch. Their mission is to demystify PR and enable small businesses to be a little more in control of their success. In our first year we were featured in Guardian, Hello!, Country & Townhouse, Balance Mag, Popsugar and a few more. I think every small business should use them!

G: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to the people who want to create something, but not sure how or where to start ?

L: Doubt is the kryptonite to any small business. You are forced to step outside your comfort zone on a near daily basis and if you doubt yourself, you’ll be in trouble. Trust your instincts and know that failure is a part of the process.

G: Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you

L: Oh I have quite a few! From the wellness industry, I think Sadie Reid from Hip + Healthy, and Ella Woodward from Deliciously Ella. They were both early voices in this industry and have grown their businesses whilst never deviating from their core values and mission. I think that’s incredible and really inspiring for me as a business starting out in this industry.

G: Who/what are your favorite CEOs/Businesses in Shoreditch or East London?

L: Lu Li from Blooming Founders is amazing. She’s an unstoppable force and I think what she has built is incredible. It is so much more than just a co-working space – she goes above and beyond to support the woman that visit Blooming Founders (whether at events or co-working members).

G: Where do you see your company in a few years’ time and what are your thoughts on the future of your industry how is it changing?

L: In a few years time I hope to have a bricks and mortar store – a community space for poor sleepers to come together and learn and share. A space to host educational events and sleep consultancy sessions. I hope that we are in loads of hotels across the country, enhancing the sleep of their guests and spreading the good sleep message. 

The industry is changing so rapidly. When we started Sleep Siren, sleep as a component of wellness was a bit alien to most. I hope that in the next few years, people really understand the importance of sleep and are making more space in their life for it. And that businesses start supporting their workers well-being more by making sleep a priority. We don’t need free gym memberships and super trendy offices. We need to be able to take our full lunch everyday to get some vitamin D and leave at 5:30.