True story: When I had my first meeting with two of Indy Maven’s co-founders, Leslie Bailey and Crystal Grave, I walked into the restaurant and immediately blurted out, “Sorry I’m late, but I think I just had my first hot flash!” Oh, and did I mention I’d never even met Crystal before?
I haven’t had another one since, but I don’t think you ever forget your first. I was sitting at my desk, working on a story, when suddenly my entire body was covered in sweat. I felt overheated and a little nauseous. Frankly, it sucked. But, at 44, I know this is part of my life as a woman. One of my friends and I regularly throw out “perimenopause” as the reason for basically anything going on with our bodies, the symptoms are so wide-ranging. But hot flashes and night sweats are some of the most well-known and common symptoms that women in perimenopause and menopause face every day.
Enter Laura Musall, 54, an FC Tucker realtor in Fishers, and Mindy Ford, 52, the director of operations at WellDone Marketing in Indy, with an innovation in sleepwear. Their Cool Revolution pajamas are designed with a “silky, soft fabric that wicks away sweat, dries quickly, keeps you warm in the cold and cool in the heat.”
We chatted with the pair about how it all came about.
Tell us about how you came up with the idea for CoolRevolution.
In March 2018, I (Musall) woke up after having night sweats for the first time, and they were horrible. I did what a lot of women probably do—I complained to friends in a text message. That led to bantering about how bad night sweats are, and about perimenopause and menopause. I said something like: There should be pajamas for this. Another friend chimed in that she thought it was a good idea, and Mindy replied, I want to work at your PJ company. Little did we know we actually would start a PJ company.
What innovations did you incorporate into the fabric/design/etc?
There were two key legs to this journey. One was design and the other was fabric. Neither of us have a background in design or fashion. In fact, we often rely on our 20-something daughters for fashion advice.
We spent an afternoon at my dining room table taking notes about what we liked about pajamas and t-shirts and pants in general. We measured everything from the length of the arms, hems, even the point we wanted the V to come for the t-shirts. We decided if we could figure out a design that worked for both of us, it would be a great fit for nearly everyone. Mindy is a medium, I wear an XXL.
We discovered a seamstress in Arcadia–Catherine Fritsch, who owns Mercurious Designs. She agreed to take our sketches and create samples in all six sizes (S-XXXL). Then we hosted a fit party where we asked our friends to come over to try on PJs and tell us what they liked and what we could improve. (You can see some of the design details here.)
To figure out the best fabric…a friend connected us to a menopause expert, Janet Carpenter, who is a researcher at the IU School of Nursing. One of the things she told me was that we needed a fabric made from natural fibers, something that wouldn’t hold heat. No one wants to sleep in workout clothes (although we talked to women who tried doing that), because they wick away moisture from your skin, but they actually hold in heat.
We did all kinds of research on fabric and loved everything we read about bamboo. It’s a natural fiber, it is cool to the touch, but it is temperature regulating, so it keeps you cool when you’re hot and warm when you get cold. It’s moisture-wicking, dries quickly, is super soft and is naturally antibacterial.
The minute we put this on, we knew we loved it. The fabric we use actually gets softer the more you wash it. The only downside is that it will shrink if you put it in the dryer, so we recommend line drying.
“When you start your period, there’s a class in school. When you get pregnant, you get a book on what to expect every month, but then when you start going through mid-life it’s radio silence.”
Where do you produce the pajamas?
CoolRevolution PJs are made in Chicago by a small, family-owned manufacturer. It was important to us that the PJs be made in the U.S. Our preference was to find someone in Indiana, but there just aren’t companies making wearable fashion.
My friends and I jokingly blame “perimenopause” for every single thing in our lives. But it (and menopause) still feel like such under-discussed topics. How do you hope to change the conversation?
It really is an under-discussed topic. Women don’t feel comfortable talking about it, because our mothers didn’t really talk about it.
When you start your period, there’s a class in school. When you get pregnant, you get a book on what to expect, but then when you start going through mid-life it’s radio silence. So, every time something hurts or feels weird, we all just blame it on perimenopause.
We’d love to help women feel more comfortable asking questions and talking about it. It’s one of the reasons I wrote a blog about having a hysterectomy this week. [You can read it here.] It’s also why we decided to have a Q&A on World Menopause Day in October where people were encouraged to ask questions of our medical advisor, Janet Carpenter.
What’s next for Cool Revolution?
Our goals for 2020 are to introduce more colors and also a night shirt—we’ve had so many requests for those!
We also plan to do more Q&A sessions with Janet and provide more ways for women to connect and talk about life’s changes without feeling embarrassed.
In 2020, more than 50 million women will hit menopause (the average age is 51), and 75 percent of us will have hot flashes and night sweats. There’s a lot we all need to know and talk about to get this through new chapter of our lives! We want to help start those conversations and give women something to wear to help.
Check out the entire CoolRevolution line at coolrevolutionpjs.com.
Abby Gardner is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven who has always liked to keep her apartment temp around 68 degrees, even when she was in her 20s.