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Suburban Chicago-based mattress company launches new brand of sleep products

SleepOnLatex mattress company in Niles launches "Earthfoam" brand
SleepOnLatex mattress company in Niles launches "Earthfoam" brand 03:29

CHICAGO (CBS) – In honor of Earth Day on Monday, we're highlighting a unique company that's changing the way people sleep.

The company SleepOnLatex makes eco-friendly mattresses and just launched a new brand called "Earthfoam."

Their main focus may be sleep, but by early morning, the factory floor is anything but that.

Dozens of craftspeople work in tandem with the lines of heavy machinery, sewing, cutting, and measuring out raw materials - a symphony of movement that eventually turns blocks of latex into eco-friendly mattresses, pillows, and foam toppers.

"So, latex, a lot of people don't think of it as a natural product, but it actually comes from trees," said Karl Shevick.  

Before there was all of this, there was just Shevick and a shipping container full of latex foam.

"Directly from the source in Sri Lanka and I realized I couldn't unload the container. So, I hired my brother to come in and help me, and so he owns and runs the business with me now," he said.

Their company, SleepOnLatex, is a family-run operation that's erupted since they first started making mattresses over a decade ago…they now have over 300 employees across three continents, most working in their latex production factories over in Sri Lanka.

"In order to get the latex, tappers will go out and scrape the rubber tree, and this white fluid will come out of the rubber tree. That's latex, and then that's eventually used to make our foam," Shevick said.

A Skokie native, Shevick was selling beanbags in the Vernon Hills mall when one of his Sri Lankan suppliers introduced him to the all-natural material.

"I had never heard of it before, but it was like the most expensive type of foam that they that they sold, and I found that there was this market, for latex foam mattresses," he said.

However, Shevick thinks that the market could be larger, the only issue?

"People think of latex as being something synthetic. They think of it being hot. They think of it being uncomfortable, like all of the opposite things of what our product actually is," he said.

That's where Earthfoam comes in. It's the same product as SleepOnLatex; it just doesn't lead with latex.

"We kind of decided that we needed to really give it a different name if we were going to appeal to a wider audience," Shevick said.

"It's actually funny because I was always really interested in the environmental angle of things, but I was also interested in business, and I didn't think that those things really would come together at all."

Chicago is no stranger to importing rubber and latex to create some of our favorite products.

It wasn't until World War II that synthetic latex became more popular due to a shortage of natural materials, but in the past several decades, natural materials have made a real comeback.  

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