What started more than 10 years ago as a basic need for Avon Lake resident and stay-at-home mom, is rapidly turning into a national product.
Cindy Perry designed the donut-shaped “Pello” after a chance meeting with another mom, who brought a pillow, instead of a blanket, to lay down her baby during a community meeting.
“I didn’t think about it again until my son wanted to sit up,” Perry said of her infant son. “I put pillows from couch around him.”
Perry, who has been sewing since she was a little girl, quickly designed a Pello (named in part, because that’s how the native Texan pronounces “pillow”) and soon had friends asking her to make one for them.
“I had a friend whose wife worked for (Cleveland) Indians and she wanted one made for them,” Perry said. “He got transferred and soon people from California, Chicago and Texas began calling and asking me to make one. They were seeing them on Facebook.”
It took approximately three years from the Pello’s prototype until it’s most recent form. Changes came in the form of improvements.
“I added handled for carrying and then decided the handles should be softer, so we added padding to them,” Perry said.
The Pello has two small handles on the side, enabling the pillow to be folded in half and easily transported over the shoulder. The item also includes a square pocket with a loop inside to hold a baby’s pacifier or toys. Filled with 100 percent polyester fibers, it will maintain its integrity and durability through countless machine washings. In addition, Perry added loops on the side of the pello to attach the arches of a baby play gym. The retail for $120.
Perry and her husband Andrew, now the parents of two sons, 11 and 8, decided to step up the concept last year, after Perry was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2011.
“All these years, I kept hearing from those who had my pillows how useful and helpful they are for babies and parents. I always thought ‘when things slow down, then I’ll build a company around them,’” Perry said “As all parents know, things NEVER really do slow down. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with skin cancer that it was time to bring Pello to life. Once I knew that the melanoma was treated, I didn’t want to sit back and keep talking about life and my ideas for Pello any longer. It was time to act.”
Her husband, a lawyer, helped form a limited liability company, patent the product and the hand-sewn products began being produced in a Cleveland.
Since launching the company in early January, Pello is now sold online at www.mypello.com and at specialty stores in 17 states across the country, including Paisley Monkey in Lakewood. The product has been featured in Kids Today Magazine, Nickelodeon’s web site ParentsConnect.com, and mom-spot.com.
Multi-functionality is the key
Perry understands the one-of-a-kind product’s allure. It keeps babies safe warm and stimulated.
The distinct, donut-shaped floor pillow with raised edges, ultra-soft plush fabric and soft padded center benefits a child at all stages of development. The soft center of the pillow creates a safe place for newborns, protects babies’ heads as they learn to sit and is ideal for the physician-recommended 30 daily minutes of “tummy time.” (Note: The product specifies that babies should never be unattended when in using the Pello.) The raised edges of the Pello help strengthen babies’ muscles as they begin to raise their heads and learn to crawl.
“It’s machine washable,” Perry said.
“As a mom, the greatest thing about the Pello is that kids never outgrow it like they do with most other baby products. It transitions from babies to toddlers and then on as a floor pillow for tweens. My kids, even 10 years later, still love their Pellos and use them all the time when they are sitting on the floor watching TV or playing games.”
She recently created a long, oval pello that will accommodate more than one baby and adds new fabrics on a regular basis.
Customers can customize their own Pello by selecting from 23 different patterns, each with two choices of coordinating fabrics. The company also offers unique, round coordinating baby blankets to help protect the Pello. Perry plans to continue to expand the Pello product line in the future to include coordinating play arches, balls, blocks and changing.
For more information regarding Pello or to place an order, visit: www.mypello.com.