Meet Sarah Marantz Lindenberg Founder of NiteCap, the Silk Hair Wrap You Didn’t Know Your Sleep Routine Needed
This isn't your grandmother's silk hair wrap.
Editor’s note: we wanted to update this story with the Instagram post from Sarah Marantz Lindenberg from NiteCap.
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NiteCap was developed because I was searching for a product that looked and performed exactly the way I wanted, for my own personal use. It was important for me that the product was produced locally in Canada and made from natural fabrics. A small business grew quickly, but in the process I failed to connect it back to the broader historical context. We stand with those who are hurt, and we respect and hear their voices. We’re committed to honouring the historical significance of hair wrapping and this will now be part of our approach.
You know the old saying, if you want something done, ask a busy person? Well, few people embody that aphorism quite like Sarah Marantz Lindenberg, the director of marketing at Pink Tartan, mother of twin baby girls and founder of NiteCap, the company she built while on bed rest and now runs while juggling her other two other full-time jobs. Marantz Lindenberg came up with the idea around the time of her wedding, after a dermatologist suggested she try sleeping with her hair out of her face to control breakouts. Clips kept falling out, ponytails gave her a headache and silk scarves, while effective, proved impossible to master. After much consideration, conceptualization, brainstorming and borderline obsessive research—”I literally measured the heads of every person I interacted with,” says Marantz Lindenberg—the NiteCap, a washable silk hair wrap that aims to protect both skin and hair, and makes you look like Greta Garbo circa 1930 at the same time, hit the market in March. We spoke with NiteCap’s founder about how it all came together, and why sleep is “just the best thing ever.”
How did you get the idea for NiteCap?
My concept came out of a problem that needed solving. I was preparing for my wedding and, like a lot of brides, wanted everything to be perfect. My skin was breaking out and I have quite long hair. I like the way it looks the second or third day after washing, so I don’t wash it every day. A dermatologist recommended that I sleep with my hair pulled back. Another physician recommended I try silk scarves, and I had fun playing around with them but they didn’t stay on. I did notice, though, that my skin cleared up from not having my hair on my face. I also noticed that my hair was shinier, thicker, and my blowouts lasted longer. There were products on the market but none of them had a functional and fashionable solution for me—synthetic fabrics that I felt did more damage, or horrible colours that I felt silly going to sleep in. It inspired me to create something of my own. Many people have told me that their grandmothers wrapped their hair, and my aunt recently told me that my great-grandmother wrapped her rollers in toilet paper after it was all styled and set. That was a lot less glamorous than my product, but the practice has been around a long time. (Editor’s note: Though not strictly used just for sleeping, the item has a long history in black hair culture.)
What are the main benefits of the NiteCap?
It has a lot of the features of a silk pillowcase: it’s great for your hair follicles, promoting growth, preventing breakage, preventing frizz, and if you do style your hair, it helps to keep the it longer. Your hair produces a natural oil at night, and this way that oil can recirculate and not get transferred onto the pillowcase. It also helps strengthen your hair by promoting growth and helping breakage, and it’s great for thinning hair. I was losing so much hair a few months after I gave birth and I found that the NiteCap was great twofold: one, it collected all the hair I did lose [at night], which made me feel better than having a pillowcase full of hair; two, it helped support the regrowth of all the little baby hairs I had. I’ve had incredible feedback from women saying it’s helped them in all these ways that I hadn’t ever thought of. Women who are menopausal and deal with night sweats—that their hair would curl at the ends due to sweating and that’s just not a problem anymore. One woman wrote me this heartfelt email about how her hair is growing back, and it’s quite painful after having chemo. She wears her NiteCap to the gym and it protects her new hairs but also allows her to be in the world in a confident way because it helps her feel dressed up.
What were some of the considerations when you were coming up with the design?
I went through tons of different patterns and samples and tests, and it actually took me a lot longer than I would have liked. I wanted something that was adjustable so I met with and interviewed women who wrap their hair. I found that some women had really short or thinning hair, and they slept with their hair wrapped to protect it. And then there are a lot of women who have long hair and hair extensions and weaves. I wanted something that would accommodate long and short hair, that was going to be aesthetically pleasing and made of beautiful materials, and that would merchandise with all of your products on a nightstand. I also wanted to work with an organic, washable silk so people could care for it at home. It’s like sleeping in an old dirty T-shirt versus sleeping in silk pyjamas. I worked with a local patternmaker, Pigeons & Thread, in Toronto—a group of women who graduated from design school at Ryerson and started a domestic production facility—and they were great partners.
I read that you worked on your business plan while you were pregnant with your twins and on bedrest. How are you managing everything now, with two kids and as marketing director at Pink Tartan?
I have my hands full but it’s so motivating being a mom. You have this energy inside of you that you never knew you had. I feel so inspired by all the moms around me. I have lots of help from my mom and amazing mother-in-law, and I have an incredibly supportive husband. I’m so passionate about NiteCap and it’s so much fun for me, so it’s not really work. It’s just a great joy. I love the whole customer service side of it because I love to hear about peoples’ experiences. Working on all the visuals with this amazing team of basically friends—the photographer is a good friend of mine, one of the main models was actually my mom, the hair and makeup was done by a group of friends, the copywriter is a great friend—has been such a fun project because it has come from a community of incredible women.
I saw you now have scrunchies on the website. Any plans to expand into more product offerings?
The evolution of the scrunchie was really organic. It’s terrifying how bad the fashion industry is for the environment, so I wanted to have a zero fabric waste product. We’re predominantly an e-commerce product. We do have a couple wholesale partners—we’re available at Goop and Holt Renfrew—but most of our business is done online and it’s been frustrating how there’s so much packaging and waste. Our NiteCap comes in a reusable velvet bag but on the production side of it, from a sustainability perspective, there’s so much fabric wasted. For every garment cut, there’s almost an equal amount of fabric that basically ends up on a cutting room floor and then in a landfill. I couldn’t put it together to make more NiteCaps but we could put it together to make these big exaggerated scrunchies, which is perfect timing because they’re almost-stylish now and don’t leave a kink in your hair. I love being in the sleep category, so I would love to develop other products around sleep—sort of a NiteCap method, something else that helps women feel beautiful when they’re getting ready for bed.
As a mother of twins, you probably appreciate sleep more than the average person. What does your typical nighttime routine look like?
There is truly nothing more valuable or precious than sleep. I feel like we’re all so busy and connected on our devices and multitasking where it’s just not a priority, but it should be. I try to sleep with my phone charging in the bathroom because in order for me to have a good night’s sleep, it’s important to not have a bright beeping phone next to me the whole night. After I put my kids to bed, I put my NiteCap on while I’m doing my whole evening routine because I love having my hair off my face. I try almost every night to soak in a piping hot bath for as long as possible. It’s such a great way to wind down and signal to my body that the day is done. Sometimes I quickly wash my face and sometimes I do an entire routine of double washing, exfoliating, toner, oil, and cream. I love natural products by brands like Province Apothecary, Living Libations, and Tata Harper. I always brush and floss my teeth and when I remember, I scrape my tongue. I try to focus on something happy or lucky that happened that day and hold on to that thought for a few minutes. It’s amazing how a few minutes of focused gratitude can recalibrate my mood.