When it comes to a brand being able to grab the attention of the Kardashian-Jenners, you would often assume it would be an already globally renowned booming business.
However for Olivia Carr, the director and founder of Shhh Silk – a silk pillowcase and sleepwear label – her journey to appearing on Kris Jenner’s doorstep is one for the storybooks, and very different to most who come into the Kar-Jenner orbit.
When Carr found herself pregnant at 19 years old, never did she think she would be in the position she is now – in fact, she thought her “life was somewhat coming to an end”.
While she never even considered giving up her child, Carr was internally grappling with how she was going to be able to get by.
“I thought, ‘I don’t know how, but I’m going to make it work,’” she tells 9Honey exclusively.
However, those closest to her had other opinions, with some family members even saying, “Her life is over.”
While she knew she would have a lot to face having to raise a child on her own from such a young age – her daughter’s father chose not to be part of her life – Carr had a “burning desire” to prove something to her family, her unborn child and, most importantly, herself.
After welcoming her daughter, Carr waited three months before she moved out of her parents’ home to prove she was able to manage on her own.
But having such a mindset, whilst it was extremely courageous, came with some serious difficulties.
“I was literally living day-to-day, living nappy-to-nappy, tin of formula to tin of formula – that was my life,” Carr explains.
So much so, she had to resort to stealing formula and nappies.
“I never did it to break the law,” she says. “I never did it to do the wrong thing. I just didn’t have any other choice.”
Whilst juggling full-time work, being a single mum and covering all bills by herself, Carr was also having to attend a series of court hearings in an attempt to prove the paternity of her daughter’s father.
Meanwhile, Carr also believes at the time she was suffering from severe postnatal depression, but it was never diagnosed at the time.
“I would just find myself crying in my room a lot and thinking, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing,’” she explains.
Carr went on to have a second child, a son, with her then-husband, at the age of 25.
It was during her maternity leave that her first big business idea came about.
Combining her passion for business and love of acting – Carr had initially wanted to break into the entertainment industry before her first pregnancy – the then 25-year-old saw a space in the education sector.
Wanting to inform children in schools about real life issues such as health and cyberbullying, Carr had the idea she could do this through the means of performance – and she did.
After four years of performing in schools all across Australia, and also running the behind-the-scenes of the business, Carr was totally burned out.
Fortunately the entrepreneur had built up a bit of a profile in the corporate world, and didn’t find it difficult to find a new position.
After a few years of having a series of different jobs in sales, she landed a general manger role at Pacific Brands.
Subsequently Carr found herself learning about all things e-commerce, but the company wasn’t quite ready to enter into that realm, and after 18 months in her role she decided she needed to branch out on her own.
The inspiration bug struck after the mum-of-two lost her silk pillowcase in a hotel’s laundry, and she couldn’t find a good replacement. The answer? Create her own start-up selling silk pillowslips – simple.
Deciding on a whim to ‘shark tank’ her former manager and business mentor, Carr pitched the idea and he instantly loved it.
Then came the time to tackle her biggest business goal – having the Kardashians sleep on her pillowcases.
Through some major digging and research, she knew the Kardashians slept on silk pillowcases – it was a mantra that was passed down from their grandmother.
After coming across pictures of Kim Kardashian walking through an airport with a silk pillowcase Carr only had one thought, “Ew.”
According to Carr, the products she had offer were more stylish and definitely more fit for a Kardashian.
“In my mind I also felt like I was doing them a service by providing them with something they would love – that I knew they would love more than what they already had,” Carr says.
And with that, Carr googled Kris Jenner’s business address, hopped on a plane to Los Angles with a parcel of silk goodies and a handwritten letter, which detailed her previous struggles as a single mother and her other business goals beyond pillowcases.
“You can’t just be seen trying to give them products – [you] have to be personal, have to be vulnerable,” Carr says. “I shared with them my hopes for the brand to be able to give back.”
Give back in what way, exactly? Being able to help the homeless.
“What I owned in my letter was that I understood the value of them and their brand, and I understood the commercial value of everything they do and that never for a moment was I trying to avoid that acknowledgement – I simply didn’t have the means to pay them,” the 37-year-old articulates.
“I was more asking them to help me, to help with my goal to aid others in need.”
Now came time for getting the letter and pillowcases delivered to the Kardashians.
The business owner hired a car and started driving, only to arrive at a very secure gated community – something she wasn’t aware existed - where Jenner Communications was located.
While she doesn’t condone her course of action, Carr had come so far and just decided to go for it.
After she somehow managed to get through security, she arrived at the residence but the driveway was cordoned off to be renovated.
All the signs were telling her not be there, but a UPS truck arrived just as she was about to give up and the man was delivering packages to the Kardashian residence – bingo, there was her window of opportunity.
The delivery man dropped of two boxes of parcels at the door, which meant she could simply place her parcel and letter on top.
Shortly after her trip to LA, Kylie and Kendall Jenner were in Australia for a new launch and Carr managed to track their Melbourne hotel down and drop off a parcel for them too.
So now, the majority of the Kardashian-Jenner family had her pillowcases.
“I don’t know if they thought it was clever or innovative, or they just thought I really wanted them to use my product, but either way I was making an impact,” Carr believes.
After some time had passed, Carr eventually signed with an LA-based PR agency. Soon, Carr learned that Kim’s stylist was due to attend one of the agency’s events where Shhh Silk’s marble pillowcases were being given away as gifts.
The stylist revealed Kim absolutely loved the products, but she couldn’t use them because they were queen size, and she needed king sizes.
Eventually Kim’s team got in touch with the brand, and put in an order for a black king set with her initials on it, which started another trend for Carr’s business – monogramming.
Her relationship with the family has skyrocketed from there, but Carr insists her interactions with them has always been “organic” and she has never paid them a single cent for any type of promotion and in reality, members of the Kar-Jenner clan have put in regular orders for products.
Despite all her success with her celebrity customers which include, of course the Kardashian-Jenners, Chrissy Teigen and Gisele Bündchen, what Carr is most humbled by is regular customers putting money behind her brand.
That combined with being able to give her 65-year-old mother the first full-time role within the company, which now has 10 team members, has been the most rewarding.
It’s safe to say when Carr fell pregnant at 19, her life was far from over.
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