Guests at the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market have likely grown accustomed to the sight of market guests leaving Sequim Civic Center plaza cradling a small, splashily printed pillow or two. While these unique pillows have already captured the heart of many in the community, they still manage to prompt a curious double take from inquisitive shoppers.
The pillow Sequim has come to look for is called a BlissPillow. It’s the brainchild of KarenLynn Robinson, who’s on a mission to help people rediscover their comfort.
BlissPillows are filled with millet hulls, the shells leftover from the millet grain post-processing.
“Because the hull is small and rounded, they have a movement almost like liquid,” Robinson said. “The pillow will never get lumpy or stiff. There is a constant adaptability.”
The result is a softly conforming and firmly supporting pillow, the hulls providing a flexible massage.
Robinson says BlissPillows are not just for the head. Tucked in the neck, braced between the knees, perched upon for meditation or supporting a book or tablet, this pillow is different from what people have elsewhere encountered, she said.
When asked who can benefit from the healing support of her pillows, Robinson said, “Anyone with a spine! From the smallest infant to elders in hospice, they are for anyone that needs positioning, cushioning, or just a comforting weight.”
The inspiration arose from an injury Robinson experienced.
“As an avid bicyclist, I would commute back and forth for my work in San Francisco,” she said. “One day I had an accident where I woke up hurt, achy and crooked. So I went to a chiropractor. She wrote a prescription selling me a therapeutic pillow filled with buckwheat hull. It was quite large, about the size of a normal pillow.
“I found that the resistance of the hulls massaged those aches away from my neck and upper back. It quickly healed the aches.”
Some months later, Robinson discovered on a trip that the size of the therapeutic pillow was not conducive to relief on the go.
“I was completely unable to sleep on the big fluffy hotel pillow and I had left the therapeutic pillow behind due to its size,” she said. “In the middle of the night, I realized I needed to figure out how much smaller a therapeutic pillow could be and still maintain its function.”
Robinson returned to San Francisco and began testing different fillings and sizes.
“Once I encountered a sample of millet hulls, I recognized that this would be the superior filling,” she said.
She landed on a pillow size of about 9 inches by 15 inches, which she found to fit into every nook of the body needing support. She prioritized creating a pillow that was able to be toted along to wherever rest would be needed.
Robinson soon moved her business to Bend, Ore., where she raised her children and operated her business for 15 years. Once her children were grown, Robinson set her sights on opening a commercial space for BlissPillow.
From an internet search for the smallest retail space in the country, Robinson discovered a building in Port Angeles. She made the jump and relocated BlissPillow to Clallam County.
Unfortunately, Robinson faced pandemic-related challenges causing a delay in her ability to open a storefront. Shifting gears, she opted to stay in the area and join the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.
“I’m simply astounded; the markets I was familiar with before had hundreds of vendors and thousands of customers, yet our Sequim market has provided comparable income to those,” Robinson said.
“I am reaching just as many people. It’s been so welcoming and accepting and understanding of the importance of what I do. I am very, very grateful.”
Today, BlissPillow continues as a labor of love for Robinson.
“I actually won’t work on BlissPillows unless I’m feeling good,” she said. “I will sing, listen to audiobooks, look at the deer munching on the berry brambles out my window. All of that is a huge part of what BlissPillow is.”
Her recommendation for a first test drive of the pillow? Take a nap as soon as possible.
“In a way, we have to give ourselves permission to have comfort,” Robinson said. “I have recently realized that as people get better rest, they wake with a better attitude. All their encounters will be kinder. So, the whole world can be better if people are getting better rest!”
BlissPillow is at the Sequim Farmers and Artisans Market every Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each Saturday through October.
Visit your community market at Sequim City Hall Plaza at North Sequim Avenue and West Cedar Street, and at Centennial Place at the Sequim Avenue and Washington Street intersection.
Want more market updates? Be sure to tune in every Friday at 4 p.m. to KSQM 91.5 FM for the live radio “Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market Hour.”
Emma Jane “EJ” Garcia is the Market Manager for the Sequim Farmers & Artisans Market.