Product line designed to soothe aches and pains, promote sleep, and
it benefits Serenity House
A friend in England mailed J’Nelle Holland a pillow stuffed with
something she couldn’t have imagined.
Not down alternative.
Not irregularly shaped, interlocking polyurethane foam.
The pillow turned out to be a centuries-old Swiss tradition for
therapeutic uses, and Ms. Holland soon discovered its potential to be
a hot new product even for today’s market. Figuratively and literally.
“I was thrilled to find how it warmed my cold feet, allowing me to
relax and go to sleep,” the Santa Barbara entrepreneur told the News-
Press, explaining that the product is heated in the microwave. “But
the thin fabric soon wore out, so I decided to sew the used pits into
the denim of an old jeans pants leg. That inspired me to make them
bigger and stronger.”
In 2010, Ms. Holland started to make Hot Cherry Pillows for friends
and family. (The name, she says, is simply “catchy,” so get your
mind out of the gutter.)
“When they came back to me wanting to buy some, I knew I had the
makings of a successful business,” said Ms. Holland, who designs the
pillows to relieve pain and provide comfort from head to toe.
She incorporated Hot Cherry Pillows in 2012. The same year, Visiting
Nurse & Hospice Care’s Serenity House opened on Miramonte Drive, and
Ms. Holland immediately donated her pillows to help patients.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day č after all, red is one of the
pillow colors č Ms. Holland is donating 25 percent of sales through
Feb. 15 to Serenity House. To purchase, go to www.hotcherrypillows.com.
“Visiting Nurse & Hospice (staff) are the most wonderful people,”
Ms. Holland said in Serenity House’s Meditation Room. “They’re
like angels. I’ve seen them at work. They’re just so calm and so
loving. They give so much.”
Ms. Holland said her current effort is a way of giving back to
Serenity House, which provides hospice care for its residents.
A New Orleans native, Ms. Holland has since 1970 lived in Santa
Barbara, where she once worked as a kitchen and bath designer. She
earned a bachelor’s degree in transpersonal psychology at Burlington
College in Burlington, Vt., in 2002.
Her entrepreneurial spirit struck when she saw the potential in the
Hot Cherry Pillows. She found the pillows, which are popular in
Europe and recently became a trend in the U.S., could be heated in a
microwave or conventional oven or chilled for therapeutic use.
Ms. Holland said the cherry pits make the pillows malleable so they
can fit easily around parts of the body.
She receives the pits of Montmorency tart cherries from a Traverse
City, Mich., family business that collects them before they end up in
landfills. She noted she has yet to find a California business that
Ms. Holland sends the pits to another family business in Oxnard,
where they’re sewn into Ultrasuede and naturally dyed denim fabrics
for her six designs. Besides red, they come in tan and blue and sell
for $23 to $68.
The pillows vary from 4 by 10 inches to 9 by 28 inches and are used
to provide relief to the back, neck, shoulders, stomach, feet, head
Ms. Holland noted the pillows are washable, mold-free and non-
allergenic.All those advantages appealed to Serenity House, which
offers them to several patients a day.
“They’re great!” said Lillian Kurosaka, an integrative therapy
aide. “There are kinds of heating pads filled with rice and beans,
but you can’t wash them. The cherry pit pillows are pretty fabulous
because you can wash them and keep them hygienic from one patient to
Ms. Kurosaka said the warm pillows help increase circulation and
alleviate pain around the joints as well as the neck, stomach and
feet. “It’s really great for arthritis.”
She said she sees the difference when her patients give a big sigh of
Marcelle Coale, Serenity House director and a registered nurse, noted
one of the pillows improved a patient’s comfort just before the News-
Press visit. “Today we used it for someone who was having abdominal
pains because of a procedure. We gave that area a little bit of extra
heat (with the pillow).”
Ms. Holland noted that when placed on the chest, the pillow helps
relax the body and promote a good night’s sleep.
“They help around the feet for people who have neuropathy,” Ms.
Holland added. “A nurse said her husband used to wake up in the
middle of the night, screaming with pain. Then she put the pillow on
his foot every night before he went to bed and increased his
Ms. Holland said he slept better.
She added that physical therapists, chiropractors and acupuncturists
have used her pillows.
Ms. Kurosaka noted the pillows work well for cold therapy too. “You
can put them in the freezer and use them to reduce inflammation.”
Because of the pits, the Hot Cherry Pillow has a faint fragrance
similar to cherry pie, which could be a psychological benefit for
Noted Ms. Kurosaka, “It smells like home.”