“At Casper, we believe that better sleep leads to a fuller, more adventurous life,” says Jeannine Seidl, the Communications Manager and “Swag Guru” at the rocket-ship of a startup that makes mattresses, pillows, sheets, foundation, and other sleep-related accoutrements including, recently, the dog bed to end all dog beds. She’s reporting on the swag situation from a specialty closet in Casper’s new Manhattan office, where she stores the company’s thoughtfully-designed employee gifts. She jokingly calls the storage space the SWIMR, for SWag Inventory Management Room.
So how exactly did she become the “Swag Guru” at a startup that’s making waves in sleep innovation? “I like to think that I’m organized, have a good sense of what it means to work here, and I want to design products for the team that bring our brand to life.” For Jeannine and Casper, employee product isn’t just an opportunity to get your branding onto New York’s streets and subway platforms in the form of t-shirts (although she does describe a certain joy when she spots a custom-Casper backpack out in the wild), it’s an opportunity to align employee perks with the company’s mission.
Casper launched three years ago selling just one mattress direct-to-consumers. Rather than requiring a truck for delivery, Casper mattresses arrive in mini-fridge sized boxes and come with a 100-night trial period. Not happy with your sleep? Casper will pick it up at no charge and donate it to a local charity. According to Jeannine, we spend a third of our lives in bed, and Casper is committed to making that time well spent. “You can never tell how a mattress will sleep for you until you’ve slept on it,” Jeannine explains. But, as she points out, it’s not just about sleep: what about all the other hours we spend on a mattress? Breakfast in bed, reading the newspaper, watching Netflix (and “chilling,” perhaps?). "Daylight Saving Time, to us, is a blessing and a curse,” Jeannine jokes, “you're either gaining or losing an hour of sleep!"
With a deep commitment to high-quality products made in the USA (all US-sold Casper mattresses are US-made) and appreciation for young-but-growing manufacturing companies, Casper works to align company culture—including employee swag—with its mission. When sourcing new swag vendors, Jeannine looks for those very same qualities that matter to Casper: good design, local production, transparent and fair pricing, and great treatment of employees.
In addition to production specs, she carefully considers swag that will appeal to all of Casper’s employees, who work out of offices in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Berlin. “We have an incredible team across the world, and we work hard to create product that appeals to everyone at Casper, no matter your home office,” explains Jeannine. The diversity of Casper’s team is one of Jeannine’s favorite aspects of working for the company. She elaborates, “There are people with a Master’s degree in Organ Performance next to people who are in med school. It makes for some great brainstorms! Everyone’s brain ticks differently, and that’s what makes Casper so special.”
So what items can meet these exacting production standards and meet the needs of such a range of employees across continents and climates? Water bottles, for a start. To source the right vendor to keep the team hydrated, Jeannine worked with Liberty Bottleworks out of Washington State, an environmentally-minded company striving to be a zero-waste facility (they currently divert 96% of their waste). “We like working with mom-and-pop shops,” Jeannine says, “because Casper was that size once, too.” She appreciates building relationships with these vendors—“We’ve been working together for two and a half years now. I consider Shawn [Hill] at Liberty a friend!”—and sharing their products with the world.
For staff backpacks, Jeannine collaborated with a small canvas- and leather-goods studio in downtown San Francisco, Joshu+Vela. She visited and toured the studio to see how the bags were made, and worked directly with Noah Guy, the apparel designer, to customize the colors and add-ons for Casper’s employees. They even stitched in Casper’s iconic blue tag to match their consumer-facing products.
While most Casper swag isn’t available to the general public, one notable exception is their custom-woven socks (made by Richer Poorer, a So-Cal sock company). Why socks? “They are the epitome of cozy and you can never have too many pairs,” says Jeannine, “plus, who doesn't love a pair of brand-new socks?” Casper gifts the socks to customers, event attendees, and those who come to visit their headquarters.
Casper intends to be your brand for all sleep-related needs, and in recent months they’ve been experimenting outside the realm of traditional comfort products, including the insomnobot-3000, a chat-bot only available during the wee hours of the night, and Van Winkle’s, an independent journal for research and content about getting your ZZZs.
So what’s next for Casper’s swag, and its resident Swag Guru Jeannine? “Who knows! I’m all about finding something that will bring a smile to the team. It could be something as crazy as a... waffle iron!” she laughs, “we’re open to anything, as long as we do it the Casper way.”
Photography by Dominick Mastrangelo.