Michael Penny’s mattress industry experience was working in a futon shop. There he became concerned by the chemicals mattress store customers and employees were exposed to. They were in the fabrics and in the foams. As a yoga practitioner, he knew sleep was important to health. He also knew that many chemicals were toxic, harmful to health, especially flame retardants such as PBDE. Not only this, but mattress product descriptions were deceitful, the quality of many mattresses was poor, and they were overpriced.
Penny decided to start his own mattress company, offering all-natural, toxic-free products. These were hard to find, so he designed his own. He opened shop in 2003 as The Savvy Sleeper in Charlottesville, Virginia, selling Serenity, a 10” high all-latex mattress with a wool batting fire barrier and an organic cotton cover. The name of the company was changed to Savvy Rest in 2006, and other models were added in 2011.
Besides mattresses, Savvy Rest also sells bedding, pillows, toppers, sofas, beds, and cribs & baby mattresses.
Savvy Rest is now an employee-owned company, and is recognized as such in its B Corporation certification.
Latex versus Memory Foam
Here is where Savvy Rest differs from Yogabed. The Yogabed Mattress is made of memory foam and polyurethane. It uses no latex, as does the Casper Mattress, because Yoga Sleep is concerned by latex allergies of some customers. However, latex allergies are rare. Also, the processing of natural latex foam removes most or all of the allergens.
On the other hand, Savvy Rest uses neither memory foam nor polyurethane foam. These synthetic foams are made of chemicals, which are released, not only when new, but over the lifetime of the mattress, cushion, or pillow. However, new foams no longer contain PBDE and other toxic ingredients which had been used for flame resistance, and most polyurethane and memory foam is now tested for toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
Michael Penny is down on gel-infusion of foam, even of latex foam. First, the gels used for this are not natural gels, but chemically produced, and would compromise the natural character of the mattress. Second, along with Dr. Swartzburg, Amerisleep, and David Rosenberg of Healthy Foundations, he questions the real effectiveness of gel infusion in cooling and support. Third, the infused gel may also be detrimental to the durability of foam.
Savvy Rest is not a one-size-fits-all mattress company like most of the recent online-only startups. Its original, flagship model, Serenity, offers choices within the one mattress configuration. This configuration, which is generally repeated by the Spindle Mattress, is three latex layers, each 3” high. Both mattresses offer choices of firmness to the buyers. The Savvy Rest customer chooses from among three firmness levels for each layer: Soft, Medium, Firm. Spindle’s choice is two: Firm and Medium.
Savvy Rest also offers the choice of the kind of latex to use for each layer, Dunlop or Talalay. Between the two factors, this means six choices for each layer.
Savvy Rest extends the choice for Queen size and larger to solid or spilt, making this a dual comfort mattress. A couple may share the same bottom layer with different latex and firmnesses for the upper layers, or have all layers split. The split option also accommodates split size adjustable beds.
Savvy Rest has two classes of models, Organic Mattresses and Simple Fit Mattresses. There are four Organic Mattress models, Serenity, Unity Pillowtop, Tranquility, and Pastoral. There were two models in Simple Fit Mattresses in 2015, but now there is only one, Earthspring. All three of these models have casings of organic cotton quilted to a organic wool fire barrier. This casing can be opened to adjust the firmness.
Three of the Organic Mattress have latex foam. The 13” Unity is like the Serenity with Savvy Rest‘s Harmony Topper as a pillow top. The 7” Tranquility has only two 3” latex layers.
The 4½” fourth model, Pastoral has no latex foam. It is made of tufted wool batting in an organic cotton casing.
The Simple Fit Mattresses have support cores other than latex foam. The 9” high Earthspring is an innerspring mattress with Bonnell coils made of recycled steel. It has a 3” Dunlop latex comfort layer. There is a .8cm sheet of coir (coir is coconut husk fibers embedded in cured latex) on the top and bottom of the innerspring. The casing cannot be opened.
No longer listed is the 6” Simplicity. The 3” medium firm Dunlop latex comfort layer lies on a 3” support layer of coir. Unlike the other models, the fire barrier is not wool, but graphite.
Savvy Rest stresses its use of organic natural materials: latex, cotton, wool and coconut husk fiber. And the coils in the innerspring model are recycled steel. All of these are certified by accredited certifying organizations: GOTS/GOLS, Oeko-Tex, and GreenGuard. There are several other certifications, too.
Since its beginning, Savvy Rest has sold its mattresses in its own stores in Charlottesville and Vienna, Virginia, Rockville, MD, and Berkeley, CA. These are also carried by several other retailers across the country.
The all-latex mattresses are covered by 20-year warranties. The warranties for the Pastoral and the Earthspring are for 10 years.
Savvy Rest’s mattresses have 81% customer satisfaction according to Sleep Like the Dead. They use no memory foam. However, memory foam has been safely used with latex in several mattresses, such as the Fibro-Pedic and Soft-Pedic by Selectabed. Most latex mattresses, such as the Taluxe, use a very firm polyurethane base layer.