20 Questions with Naturepedic Founder to Kickstart Our 20th Year

Naturepedic founder Barry Cik with his two sons in the organic mattress factory

Twenty years ago, Board-Certified Environmental Engineer Barry A. Cik saw a need for organic crib mattresses and founded Naturepedic. Today, we’re still making certified organic crib mattresses – and options for the kids and adults in your family, too.

We sat down for a Q&A with Barry to tell you our Naturepedic story in his words – and talk about the organic mattress industry, avoiding greenwashing, what’s to come in the future and more. Read on.

Q: What did you do before you founded Naturepedic? 

A. I was an environmental consultant for something like 30 years.  I consulted mostly with real estate buyers, sellers and lenders regarding the environmental conditions of real estate properties, including underground soils, groundwater and building materials.

Q. How did you get into the mattress industry then?

A. By accident! I’ve been a Board-Certified Environmental Engineer for over 30 years, chasing chemicals. In 2003, my wife sent me to a baby store to buy a crib mattress for our first grandchild. I quickly realized that all the baby mattresses (at the time) were made with vinyl (and toxic phthalates, some of which have subsequently been banned in the U.S.), polyurethane foam, flame retardant chemicals, perfluorinated chemicals, formaldehyde, pesticides, GMOs, glues/adhesives, etc. The turning point moment was when the salesperson said something like “C’mon! If it wasn’t safe, the government wouldn’t allow it to be sold.”

I came home and told my wife that my grandfather slept on straw, which is healthier, and we have Amish friends, and we should just borrow some straw from our friends. One thing led to another. We made a mattress. Then we put it up on the internet, and, lo and behold, people started sending me money to make more. And here we are 20 years later.

Classic Seamless Organic Crib MattressClassic Seamless Organic Crib Mattress


 wipe-clean waterproof surface

lightweight or 150 coil support

single or 2-stage dual firmness



Breathable 2-Stage Organic Crib MattressBreathable 2-Stage Organic Crib Mattress


removable washable breathable cover
(with waterproof backing)

lightweight or 252 coil support

2-stage dual firmness



Breathable Ultra 2-Stage Organic Crib MattressBreathable Ultra 2-Stage Organic Crib Mattress

breathable ultra

removable washable breathable cover
(thicker + designer fabric)

lightweight or 252 coil support

2-stage dual firmness



Click Here for additional models carried by our retaiers

Q. How many grandkids do you have now?

A. 14.

Q. Why don’t more people know about toxic chemicals in mattresses? 

A. Many, even most, people don’t know about the toxic chemicals in the products they use every day. Mattresses are particularly important because people sleep on a mattress for about a third of their lives. That’s a lot of time to be exposed to toxic chemicals.

Close-up of a Naturepedic organic mattress and organic cotton sheetClose-up of a Naturepedic organic mattress and organic cotton sheet

Q. Were there other organic mattress brands around in 2003 when you started Naturepedic?

A. Not really, in the sense of serious and developed organic mattress brands. But there were a couple manufacturers that were trying to develop healthier mattresses using organic fabrics and fill.

Q. There are a lot of organic mattress brands out there now ... and a lot of greenwashing. How can a consumer know if a mattress is really organic? 

A. At Naturepedic, we say that a mattress is only organic if it’s a certified organic mattress – and the standard that you want to look for is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). You need to see a certification on the product. To take it a step further, you can also go to the GOTS website and verify that the brand is actually certified organic.

Q. What’s a major red flag when it comes to greenwashing?

A. Calling a mattress “organic” when it’s not certified is certainly a major red flag when it comes to greenwashing. But the same is true when products are called “sustainable” or “natural” or “eco-friendly,” etc. These terms aren’t regulated, and without context they don’t really mean anything beyond a marketing tactic. 

Jason and Jeff Cik, Barry's sons and Naturepedic co-owners, standing with Naturepedic mattress boxesJason and Jeff Cik, Barry's sons and Naturepedic co-owners, standing with Naturepedic mattress boxes

Q. Two of your sons, Jeff and Jason, have run the business with you from the start. What’s the best thing about working with family?

A. Family is family. There’s no politics among us. We’re honest with each other – that leads to a better run company.

Q. What do you admire most about your sons? 

A. I admire their openness, their honesty, their integrity and their willingness to be direct in our communication. Those same principles are the backbone of our brand.

Q. Which one of the three of you gets the least sleep?

A. Well, let’s just say that when they were kids, I probably got the least sleep.

Q. What’s your bedtime routine? 

A. No time for rituals nowadays: I collapse and have no problem sleeping.

Q. Then, how do you relax?

A. Well, I tried yoga recently. But it didn’t really work for me … because I fell asleep.

Bed with a Naturepedic organic mattress, blankets turned down and decorative pillowsBed with a Naturepedic organic mattress, blankets turned down and decorative pillows

Q. Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper or stomach sleeper?

A. Definitely a side sleeper. (I can’t even imagine sleeping on my stomach!)

Q. Why is a mattress so important when it comes to avoiding harmful chemicals?

A. From the time you walk through the door into your home until the time you walk out of your home, where did you spend most of your time? You may very well have spent it on your mattress. So, while your dining room set is important, and so is your sound system, your mattress is actually far more important. When it comes to avoiding harmful chemicals in your home, you should probably start there. 

Q. What other items in the home should consumers pay close attention to in terms of toxic chemicals?

A. I wouldn’t know where to start. Open the door to your home and just look around. In your grandparents’ days, you would have seen lots of natural materials – cotton, wood, etc. Today you’ll see tons of petroleum-based materials, most of which are full of questionable chemicals.

Q. Do you eat only organic?

A. I wish I could say 100% yes, but I can’t.  I try as much as is reasonably possible, but I’m only human.

Q. Beyond avoiding toxic chemicals, what makes a “good” mattress?

A. Comfort, comfort, comfort.  If the mattress isn’t comfortable, then you’re not going to sleep on it … no matter how organic or healthy it is.  So, for example, most of our adult mattresses offer various customizable firmness levels (as opposed to most mattresses on the market which come with one firmness and one firmness only).

Q. What’s a positive change you’ve seen in terms of the environment over the last 20 years?

A. People are waking up and recognizing that toxic chemicals in consumer products are a serious issue … but it has taken a while. In our early years, I once told someone that we were making organic mattresses. He replied by asking me if he could take a bite in the middle of the night if he was hungry. Nowadays, people have a better understanding of what exactly we’re doing, and why.

Person picking a cotton flower on a peaceful farmPerson picking a cotton flower on a peaceful farm

Q. What’s something you love about your job?

A. I’m making a difference for many people in a positive way, and that feels good.

Q. What’s one thing you wish you could tell every customer?

A. Thank you!

From Us to You 

Our whole Naturepedic family echoes Barry’s sentiments: we want to thank YOU … our amazing customers! Our 20th anniversary isn’t just a celebration of us, but more so a celebration of you for putting your trust in us, striving to make healthier choices for your families and the planet, and helping us become the organic leader we are today. And to show our thanks to you, you can look forward to a year full of new product launches, special sales and more … so stay tuned!

Cheers to 20 years, and the next 20 to come! We’re proud to be the brand that’s brought you Safe Healthy Sleep™ since 2003.

Learn more about Naturepedic's certifications, advocacy work and commitment to sustainabilty.