In a sector soaring with growth, Canadian entrepreneur Michael Edwards is proof positive intergenerational insight on business positioning can pivot it for rapid expansion.
As co-founder and CEO of bespoke lifestyle brand, Wyndon, the Toronto-based e-commerce visionary and philanthropist has spent recent years single-handedly expanding his mother, Judy Doman’s legacy brick-and-mortar linens business, BedBoutique, online.
“My mother was always a one-woman show, with her efforts unnoticed most of the time,” Edwards shares. “She started in 1990 by manufacturing and selling comforters at major intersections — all from a sewing machine in the back of her van.”
Having eventually established 15 retail locations, ultimately, Edwards reveals, the rise of e-commerce deflated the regional mainstay. “BedBoutique had moved to one flagship, and this was where I saw an area where I could really be of help,” he says of the burgeoning online opportunity.
Bed sheets are no longer utilitarian, and now serve as status symbols in the realms of self-care and personal aesthetics. And with relative industry newcomers like Parachute and Brooklinen on the tips of tongues across social media, Edwards knew there was room in this disrupting global market — one that’s expected to hit $142.8 billion USD by 2027 — for his mother’s signature craftsmanship.
Shoppers agree; having amassed more than $1.5 million in sales over the past 12 months alone, Wyndon is at the forefront of pushing age-old boundaries around wellness and relaxation through high-quality linens and home goods.
“The COVID-19 global health pandemic also helped us recognize that bedsheets are not only for comfort and style, but also for improving personal hygiene and countering the spread of bacteria,” Edwards says. “It has been an honour to see our products serving such a vital purpose during these unprecedented times.”
Having started Wyndon in 2018, Michael Edwards credits a breadth of varied business experience, alongside an innate aptitude to sense trends, pivot when necessary, and trust getting back to the basics, as his recipe for success.
A long-time entrepreneur, he cites his 11th birthday gift — a pair of turntables — as his official start. “That year, I earned $200 for producing my elementary school’s senior cheerleading mix,” he grins. “By 14, I was booking various prom and private events; by 18, I co-founded Dub1six Records; while in school, I started an event company, Click Concerts; at 26, I was a shareholder in the San Francisco-based boutique music company, Firstquake Entertainment.”
He also co-founded the Canadian non-profit, HomeGrown International, in 2015 at age 22, receiving public endorsement from the Consulate Generals of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent, and St. Lucia.
Along the way, however, there was both a life-threatening hurdle, and a life-lesson experience he had to overcome. “I was in a car accident at age 19,” he recalls. “I was air-lifted to the trauma unit without vital signs at the time.
“I had also accumulated a series of debts with respect to my previous business,” he continues. “On the one hand, this backed me into a corner, but on the other, it became a turning point. My career had been a collection of unusual and interesting experiences thus far, and that pause in momentum made me realize that, while I was off trying different things, this beautiful bedding business was in front of me all along.”
There’s one more, very important element intrinsic to Edwards’ inspiration and success: his mother. “She was the youngest of seven kids, and used to sell vegetables on the side of the road in Trinidad & Tobago to help combat her family’s poverty,” he shares. “She would often go days without food before she immigrated to Canada in 1988. My mother was a frequent business builder herself, and also the first person in her house to ever attend college.
“Working with mum has been a rollercoaster,” Edwards reveals. “At times, it’s hard to tell whether I’m her son or her employee, but even those funny moments have taught me a lot. She is a walking inspiration. Continuing her legacy while building my own feels like the ultimate efficiency because every kid wants to make their parents proud. I get to pave the way and steer the ship, while making her smile. It seems the more I’m able to take on each year, the less she has to carry, and the bigger that smile gets.”