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On a mission to unleash the power of sleep

Why I’ve left my job to set up a sleepwear brand

Photo by Kalpesh Lathigra. Takayo Akiyama wearing the organic cotton Joao-de-Barro dress and organic jersey Long Trousers. 

All started when I was laying out in bed with an excruciating kidney pain and recurrent infections caused by kidney stones. I remember one thought came to my head “I’ve abused my own body with too much work” – that was precise conclusion. By the age of 32 I had already had three stomach ulcers, recurrent gastritis and severe kidney infections, had taken heart medication for several years, irreversible lost of tooth enamel followed by osteopenia in the spine. For at least 7 years I was working full-time as an art director, freelancer at night, charity volunteer during weekends, sports girl by hobby and having a busy social life in London. But that night I made a decision that I needed to change.

I came from a large family of high achiever doctors – even my late grandmother was a well-respected doctor in the 1960s and 70s. I started uni in Sao Paulo, Brazil when I was only 17 and was determined to have a career as a graphic designer after I graduated and moved to London few years later. I was eager to learn, to see art and to meet as many people as I could hang up with. It was really good fun entering in such creative world and meeting so many amazing talented people. Being in a male-dominant white English middle-class industry, I worked as harder as I could; pushing my mental and physical limits to attend all design events, doing a post-graduate course, studying and freelancing every night 7 days a week. Everybody around me was questioning how I could do it all of these non-stop. After years consuming all natural resources from my own body I finally understood that I simply couldn’t do it any longer. Not only I had many sleepless nights as I was working until late, but then having insomnia for the long hours spending in front of the computer – an average of 16 hours a day – it was hard for me to switch off. After a while I also became far too tired to keep going back and forths from hospitals due to my health detriment.

Most of clients are NGOs and I’ve been designing for social change my entire career. I’ve been very lucky to be involved with so many amazing projects that do so much good in the world. After working on an environmental project for an international organisation I’ve realised that sustainability starts from within.

When we’re feeling happy with inner-peace we don’t go about killing animals, destroying nature or being horrible to people. A sleep deprived commuter who shouts at a fellow passenger at 7am is clearly needing to feel relaxed and content in life. As Marianne Williamson says “nobody wakes up in morning and decides to behave like a jerk”but lack of sleep and not living in the present moment do turn us into stressed and overwhelmed monsters.

Once I finally changed the way I live, eat and have fun I was ready to leave my beloved full-time job to go on a journey to set a sleepwear brand with a mission to be sustainable and to unleash the power of sleep. My aim is for it to be an antidote to busyness and overwork. And I believe fashion that helps you sleep beautifully should be made in a beautiful way. That’s why every decision we make, from the organic materials we use to where we produce our garments, pushes the boundaries of care and consideration. We would like to give people unparalleled comfort and quality design with sustainability stitched in.

The idea behind the designs of the sleepwear and loungewear is to take comfort to the next level. Each piece allows you to move freely, to feel at ease and to step into a space of relaxation, stillness and inner contentment.

I’ve learnt that a good night sleep starts during the day. We must nurture our days with good food, do at least one thing we love every day, cultivate our relationships and thoughts with great positivism and gratitude so we can go to bed feeling happy instead of knackered. We can get stuck with useless thoughts and constant worries whist trying to fall sleep – we all know that these don’t help us switch off. Sleeping rituals are as important as having a clean house. I believe that we have dedicate time for downtime for our mental and physical health. It’s a great feeling to accomplish a full day’s work and to also allocate time for oneself with the purpose to relax and sleep beautifully. Rest assured that on the following day you’ll wake boldly. 

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