Vin Li Yap smiles and glances at some toys lying on the sofa of her living room, evidence of her son's playtime activities. Upstairs, the family-friendly scene switches to a more start-up inspired setup as she reveals a tastefully decorated home office space, rife with indoor plants, fluffy grey rugs and wall shelves lined with books and various plaques—remnants from her days as an investment banker. Free of toys and distractions (almost), this is her base of operations for Kapas Living.
Vin and her brother Zer Ken Yap co-founded Kapas Living in October 2020, an online business that offers luxuriously soft cotton bedsheets, duvet covers and pillow cases—minus the hefty price tag and lofty claims of thread counts that number in the thousands. But wait; don't high thread counts represent better quality bedsheets? The answer is no, as Vin and Ken both discovered while running their other business Plush, a short term management company that flips homes into Airbnbs.
Looking back on the year, Vin and Ken explain why they launched Kapas Living during the pandemic, what drives them to see it through and why their unique brand of bedsheets keep customers coming back for more.
What made you decide to launch Kapas Living?
Vin: We had been thinking about starting Kapas for a while now. We never got around to doing it because we were busy growing Plush. The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns sort of forced us to speed up the process.
Ken: Our background is in finance. Later, I moved into marketing pharmaceutical products. At one point, both of us got a bit bored in our careers and we decided to see what this Airbnb craze was all about. That's when we started Plush. We actually wanted to launch Kapas Living about a year ago, but getting the right materials, finding the right manufacturer, sending samples back and forth, and many trips to China to meet the right suppliers—it took a long time.
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Vin: When we first heard about the coronavirus pandemic in China, we knew in January itself that it was going to get more serious. We knew it was going to hit us hard, especially in the tourism industry. We knew we had to pivot and do something else. That's really when we put the pedal to metal.
Ken: And when we started managing homes with Plush, we would usually buy sheets with pretty high thread counts. Then we'd send them to the wash, and they'd rip. It was frustrating.
Vin: That’s when we started researching more about what makes cotton sheets so much more attractive.
Ken: More important than thread count is the material the sheets are made of, and the quality of the yarns and threads. Truth be told, within a square inch you can only fit so many threads. I believe a thread count of 400 is already very high-end. Anything more than that is probably a bit of funny marketing, where you twist the thread or you use thinner threads which doesn’t necessarily make it a better quality product.