At Work With: Ashley Merrill

Can the right pajamas solve our sleep deficit? We meet the founder of Lunya, who’s on a mission to make sleepwear better—and more beautiful.

Ashley Merrill has always considered herself to possess an aptitude for creating calm spaces and curating beautiful things. But one evening before bed, clad in her usual ensemble of an old fraternity shirt and boxer briefs (both belonging to her husband), she realized it might be time to train that creative energy on her evening routine. The result was Lunya—a modern sleepwear brand that launched in 2014. With an eye to offering sleepwear beyond traditional pajama sets and impractical lingerie, Merrill sought to create timeless, flattering designs in comfortable fabrics that would enable her to both relax at home and still look put-together. As she points out, “Every single person sleeps.” Merrill, it seems, now does so with style.

As an entrepreneur, it must be particularly important for you to sleep well. What are your rituals?

As someone with kids who is running a company, I’m not getting a ton of sleep all the time, but I am optimizing it. Work is an intense environment so when I get home theres an unwinding period. I put on my Lunya right away and thats part of the process of shedding the day. After the kids go to bed, I eat dinner with my husband. Then I’ll watch a little bit of television, or read some news, but I try to stop emails and shut off from work. Its all part of the process of transitioning from the hustle of the outside into a world, which is conducive to getting a good nights rest. I’ve started listening to meditation apps when I have trouble falling asleep. Those seem to put me out really quickly.

How do you design for a good night’s sleep?

Everything that we create is about how it makes our customer feel during her most intimate time of day. We use best-in-class fabrics—silks, pima cotton, alpaca—with really thoughtful designs for a woman’s body. That means no seams that are bulky in places that are anatomically uncomfortable for a woman; no straps that will easily fall off; fabrics that are really breathable and pocket designs that stay flat so they don’t bunch up on your hips.

All of our fabrics are majority natural fibers—that was something that we knew we wanted to stand for. You want to sleep in something breathable and natural. “Restore” is an FDA-regulated fabric that helps increase your body circulation and aids with muscle recovery, while “Cool” is a fabric that cools your body down. And we’ve also continued to refine some of Mother Natures best creations, like making silk something that our customer can wash so that its easier for her lifestyle.

Your collection is streamlined. Was that intentional?

I remember reading a book about a furniture designer who designed 27 different chairs over 35 years. I liked this idea of having a few pieces that are thoughtful from a comfort, style and function standpoint. I don’t aspire to make a million different skews. Our girl is busy so I need to help her with curation. She doesn’t need five different joggers; she needs the best jogger. It’s my job to give her exactly what she wants.

Your brand has always taken a female-focused approach, not only in your design but also your push to promote women in business. Why is this important to you?

I want to build a company that inspires other people to be their most comfortable, confident self. Our stores in LA and New York are really large footprints for a company that carries very few skews. We’ve done that to create event spaces so that we can foster community, from meditation classes in LA to an event in New York where female founders spoke to 200 women. We do these incredible events where the heart and mission behind what we do feels like it’s translating. Thats something I always dreamed would happen, and Im really starting to feel it now.

This post is produced in partnership with Lunya.


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