Cheryl and Sarah are a mother & daughter team who recently started a business together called Franklin Down. Their passion is creating down throw pillows in designer fabrics, at affordable prices. We were inspired by their story and thought you would be too!
What is Franklin Down? Why & how did you start it?
Sarah: Franklin Down is an online-based store for our handmade down throw pillows. We make all the pillows ourselves—each finished by hand—in designer fabrics and, more recently, our own one-of-a-kind designs. It was important to us to use only the highest-quality materials, both for the fabric and inserts, so all of our pillows have a down feather insert—no poly! The name comes from our hometown, Franklin, TN and the down in all our pillows.
My mom has been making throw pillows for her home and for me in my dorm rooms and apartments for years, and she always gets so many compliments. We’d see designer pillows in boutiques at $100-200, knowing that equally beautiful pillows could be made for a fraction of that price.
We talked about selling our own throw pillows for years, but we finally decided to make it happen this spring. Part of my motivation to finally make this a reality was my desire to gain experience running a small business, especially in the e-commerce/retail space. I figured what better way to get some experience than make my own! Over the summer, we worked on selecting the right fabrics for our collection, making inventory, and developing our site, and we finally launched in September!
Cheryl: I love perusing the fabric store feeling the different textures and seeing the unique patterns and imagining how they would look in my own home. Sarah & I only have so much space in our homes for pillows, so this is a great way to share these patterns and fabrics with others. We love being able to offer a great quality, designer, down-filled pillow at a more affordable price.
How has collaborating on Franklin Down impacted your mother-daughter relationship?
Sarah: Franklin Down has been really wonderful for our mother-daughter relationship. For one, it’s been a fantastic way to keep us in touch since we’re now living nearly 1000 miles apart (I live in Philadelphia & my mom is still in Franklin). We’re on the phone all the time discussing the business, but always end up catching up on other things as well.
It’s also been really fun doing something creative together. One of my favorite things to do growing up was arts and crafts projects with my mom—so it brings back a lot of great memories. Since we’re just getting started, there’s been a lot to learn, and going through that process together has definitely brought us closer. I’m so glad I have my mom as a partner through all the challenges that come with starting a business, and I’m glad she’s the one I get to celebrate with for each success.
Cheryl: Sewing is not passed down through the generations like it used to be, and we are losing these skills, so I was excited to hear Sarah wanted to take up one of my passions, which is sewing. While Sarah was working as a consultant over the last few years she wasn’t able to use her creative side as much as she liked; this collaboration has allowed me to see her use her creative side.
When she came to me with this business venture I jumped right on board. Not only has it kept us close with the great distant between us, it has forced me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new sewing techniques and learn new technology skills by helping to manage the website and our social media pages.
What do you admire most about each other?
Sarah: I admire my mom’s tenacity. She really is fearless. If she sets her sights to something, no matter how big, she’s going to get it and not let anything stand in her way. She stands up for herself and those she cares about—she’s taught me the importance of speaking up for yourself and advocating for what you believe in.
I also admire her selflessness. She’s always thinking of someone else before herself. She dedicates so much time and effort to making the people around her happy, even when it often goes without thanks or acknowledgment. I could never thank her enough for all she does for me.
Cheryl: Sarah has made me proud throughout her life—she has succeeded at so much, which she has done on her own. She has a great personality, she’s fun-loving, and she’s sensitive, which are great qualities to have. I admire her tenacity and willingness to achieve what she wants in life. I am enjoying watching her create Franklin Down and am happy to be working by her side helping Franklin Down grow.