Interview with: 

Susana Saeliu

Co-Founder and CEO, Pluto Pillows

Words by
Ash Read

Your pillow is more important than you think.

Without the right pillow, your whole body can be out of alignment and you'll wake up feeling tired, groggy and more up for hitting snooze than getting up and after the day ahead.

Susana Saeliu knew these troubles all too well. And after years of neck pain and searching countless aisles of one-size-fits-all pillows with no luck, she decided to create Pluto Pillow — a brand that offers customized pillows based on your body stats, how you sleep, and what you like.

'There had to be a better way'

"The idea came from a particularly horrible neck ache in 2017," says Saeliu. "After learning that getting a better pillow that’s better suited for me can help, I launched into intense research mode; learning about what’s best for my sleep positions, going into retail stores and squeezing pillows with my hands, reading what seemed like hundreds of dizzying Amazon reviews."

But after buying and returning seven different pillows, she knew that there had to be a better way.

Pluto has 35 pillow variations and offers recommendations based on millions of data points.

'A great night’s sleep is more than having a great mattress'

After graduating from the University of Southern California, Saeliu worked in retail and noticed that while several bed-in-a-box brands had reshaped the mattress industry and changed the way we shop for beds, pillows continued to be more of an afterthought.

"[Pillows were] a product sold alongside the mattress – with many of these direct-to-consumer mattress brands offering one-size-fits-all pillows," explains Saeliu.

And aside from the options offered by new online brands, the way we shop for pillows had remained largely unchanged: "We visit a local store, test out aisles of options with our hands, squeezing pillows that say 'soft, medium, or firm,'" says Saeliu.

But during her search for a pillow to help ease her neck ache and improve her sleep, Saeliu found that the comfort scale can vary wildly across brands: "What's 'firm' from one brand can feel more like a 'medium' from another," she adds.

And even after walking up and down the aisles at various retailers and squeezing countless pillows, the traditional pillow buying process doesn't often lead to positive results: "Studies also show that we tend to buy what appears to be a great first impression, taking that back home to sleep on, and realizing that it actually results in terrible sleep," adds Saeliu.

This poor buying experience, coupled with sleep problems, inspired Saeliu to rethink the pillow buying and manufacturing process: "As someone who has had a hard time finding the right pillow (or even one that didn’t go flat in a month) and truly believing that a great night’s sleep is more than having a great mattress, these factors inspired the development of Pluto," she says.

As someone who has had a hard time finding the right pillow (or even one that didn’t go flat in a month) and truly believing that a great night’s sleep is more than having a great mattress, these factors inspired the development of Pluto.

'A more scientific approach'

The first step to launching Pluto Pillow was figuring out exactly what role pillows play in quality sleep: "We conducted research through interviews with consumers about their pillows, a somnologist [someone that helps solve sleep problems] to understand the fundamentals of quality sleep, and a physical therapist to learn more about how the wrong pillow can contribute to neck pain and other problems."

Next, Saeliu focused on finding the best materials and her previous retail experience helped to shape Pluto's product: "I've had the opportunity to work with the largest pillow material suppliers, learned what goes into creating a thoughtful pillow, what materials have been dominating the marketplace, and what hasn't been used before," she explains.

3 of Pluto Pillows most popular CertiPUR-US cores.

This research and experience steered Saeliu to shift away from the idea of one-sizes-fits all and towards a new, customized pillow buying experience that's at the core of Pluto's product: "All of this information was used to create a database and an algorithm that would calculate the best variation for a person after completing the questionnaire," says Saeliu. "This algorithm continues to improve with more orders and customer feedback."

"Our proprietary model and pillow designs take a more scientific approach in which we create and personalize pillows to you based on your body stats, how you sleep, and your preferences," adds Saeliu. "Our pillows are also a hybrid-design, with a supportive, high-grade CertiPUR-US inner core, encased within an outer plush pillow, both unique to your individual sleep profile," adds Saeliu.

Our pillows are also a hybrid-design, with a supportive, high-grade CertiPUR-US inner core, encased within an outer plush pillow, both unique to your individual sleep profile.

'A custom pillow for your body'

"To start customizing a pillow, all you have to do is visit our website, fill out a quick questionnaire, and your data will run through our algorithm that will help us create a custom pillow for your body stats, sleep positions, and preferences," explains Saeliu. "Our materials combine for over 35 variations through our patent pending process."

Since launch Pluto Pillow has collected close to two million data points that help the brand to handcraft the right pillow just for you. So if you want to make poor pillow choices a thing of the past, Pluto Pillow is 100% worth checking out.

Pluto Pillow

Pillows custom-built to your body stats, how you sleep, and what you like

Behind the Brand interviews

Brands you might like

View all brands ↦

Twice Monthly Newsletter

The Home Catalog

The latest brands, products, reviews and tips to live your best life at home, delivered straight to your inbox every other Sunday.

Thanks so much for subscribing! I'll send you a welcome email shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.