Wellness is a major buzzword these days, but it can mean a little something different to everyone. Does it stand for self-care and restoration, or is it more about strength and endurance? So, we created a series breaking down the healthy habits of local influencers and entrepreneurs, allowing them to define what wellness means on a personal level.
Thirteen years ago, after Merrimac Dillon’s husband had back surgery, she was determined to help him get regenerative and restful sleep. Dillon decided to reimagine the basic pillow and built The Pillow Bar‘s custom pillow machine in her garage. The innovative device creates pillows that are tailored to each customer, taking their size, age, and sleep preferences into account.
Dillon sold 342 pillows in her first year of business while still operating out of her garage. In 2018, Dillon’s pillows earned a coveted spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list. By 2020, The Pillow Bar was selling more than 22,000 down and down-alternative pillows a year. What started as a solution to her husband’s troubles sleeping has now blossomed into a full line of home goods, including towels and bed linens.
“Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to refuel your body and mind, so we are very mindful of providing products that can help our customers achieve their best night’s sleep,” she says.
Calee Dillon, Merrimac’s daughter, works as the vice president of marketing at The Pillow Bar. While both agree that sleep is crucial to health and wellness, we dug deeper to see what other healthy choices the duo makes in a day, from energizing breakfasts to nighttime routines.
How do you start your day on a healthy note?
Merrimac: I’m a big believer that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Somewhere along the way, I started eating oatmeal and blueberries and it just became a habit and I love that it keeps me feeling full throughout my morning and starts me off with great energy. I’m a pretty routine person, so that’s what I tend to eat almost every day.
Calee: I like to start my day with a plate of fresh seasonal fruit. There’s really nothing better. I’ll also have warm water with lemon, ginger, and cayenne pepper to jumpstart my metabolism and get me focused for the day ahead.
What are your favorite workouts right now?
Merrimac: I spend each day making pillows and unloading trucks, which is really physically active, so I don’t work out in the traditional sense. I do, however, spend a lot of time with my husband walking our Labradoodle Ollie around town.
Calee: You really can walk miles a day while at The Pillow Bar. For the past year, I’ve done at-home workouts through Melissa Wood Health and I’ve loved the flexibility of picking when I want to get in a workout. I try to start my day with a mat workout, or I’ll do one when I get home. I make it a priority to find the time, even if it’s just 20 minutes. It completely shifts my attitude.
How do you take care of your mental health? What role does sleep play?
Merrimac: Sleep is a cure-all, in my opinion. It helps relax both your mind and body, restores your positive attitude, and allows you to start fresh each day. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by positive people at The Pillow Bar who are proud of what they do. That in itself is great for keeping me positive and happy.
Calee: I couldn’t agree more. It wasn’t really an option to be negative in our household. My parents did a great job of encouraging me to always be my best self. I learned over the years that I couldn’t do that unless I took care of myself, which meant getting enough sleep and allowing myself time to recharge. It’s so important to be selfish with your time and to prioritize your mental health–it’s okay to say no to a lunch so you can take a much-needed nap. Every person is different, so you just need to listen to your body and pay attention to what you need.
How do you end your day on a healthy note?
Merrimac: Most days I reward myself with a glass of red wine. As the French swear, it keeps you healthy, and that’s a healthy habit I am happy to embrace.
Calee: I like to go on a walk after work and cook at home on weekdays. It helps me decompress from my day. Weekends are always busy, so incorporating quiet time is key for me.
What is the most important part of your sleep routine?
Merrimac: I swear by a hot lavender bath each night before bed. It’s my own little relaxation ritual that helps get my body ready to sleep.
Calee: I truly look forward to bedtime. My bedroom is a haven. I’ll make tea or water with magnesium powder to calm down after a busy day. I also love getting into my sheets; there’s nothing more relaxing than slipping into crisp, clean sheets. Once my head hits the pillow, I’m out.