Good Company: Bearaby’s transformative weight blankets
What would the world be like if everyone slept well? Perhaps it is not the question that Kathrin Hamm, founder and CEO of Baby bear, the sustainable weight blanket company, wanted to answer when they took their prototype to a manufacturer for a production estimate, but they help people.
As an economist for the World Bank, Hamm traveled extensively in developing countries to help small and medium-sized companies owned by women, open bank accounts and obtain loans. “I’ve always admired them,” says Hamm. “But I thought this is not something I could ever do because I can’t take any chances.”
But the daily 10-hour commute to work in India took its toll. “I woke up several times at night and it started affecting me.” Hamm didn’t want to take medication, so she tried mattresses, white noise machines, and meditation. Nothing helped the sleepless, travel-weary Hamm to fall asleep and stay asleep.
One day, Hamm happened upon a study on weight blankets and sensory disorders in a medical journal. It said the same concept could also help people sleep better. Hamm went online and bought a weight blanket from an online pharmacy. “It was filled with sand, it was orange and blue, very ugly, very uncomfortable, but it made me sleep like never before – it was brilliant!”
But it made her so hot at night that she often threw it away in her sleep. “I needed a product that I could sleep under for eight hours,” says Hamm. “At the time, I didn’t want to create it myself, I just wanted to buy one and get on with my life.”
She searched for months. It became a side project in which Hamm considered playing with fabrics. When looking at the hand-knotted carpets in India, an idea arose. “I thought if you can make a tightly knitted cotton rug that is heavy, maybe we can put that on the ceiling.”
After knitting bales of yarn from layers on layers of cotton, Hamm slept coolly under the prototype of the bestseller Cotton Napper. It helped ease her insomnia, and she wondered what it could do for others.
“I emptied my retirement account and my World Bank savings account and said let’s give this a year. If it doesn’t work out, they will hopefully take me back, ”recalls Hamm. “I didn’t go back.”
While most weighted blankets are made from plastic beads or sand, Bearaby’s Cotton Napper is made from 100% organic, long-staple cotton that is grown in India and uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods. It is certified according to GOTS Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX and Fairtrade International. “It’s cozy,” says Hamm. “Lots of people want to sleep under it every night.”
Hamm has developed the Tree Napper for hot sleepers. Made from TENCEL Lyocell, a material made from natural eucalyptus fibers, the Tree Napper is breathable, biodegradable and is produced in a closed-loop process.
The company cites several studies on weighted blankets that suggest it uses deep touch pressure technology (fans say it feels like a giant hug) that stimulates the production of serotonin (the happiness hormone), cortisol ( the stress hormone) and increases melatonin (which helps you fall asleep).
To achieve the perfect bear hug effect, a blanket should weigh about 10% of a person’s body weight. Bearaby’s blankets come in 15, 20, and 25 pounds. Gradations and in a variety of colors that can change with the season. There are also collaborations, for example with West Elm. The kid-size nappling weighs 8 pounds, the queen-size hugger weighs 35 pounds.
The best-selling Cotton Napper is $ 249 for £ 15, $ 259 for £ 20, and $ 279 for £ 25. The Tree Napper is $ 269 for £ 15, $ 279 for £ 20. and $ 299 for £ 25. The kid-sized nappling is $ 149 for £ 8, and the £ 35 queen-sized hugger is $ 399.
WHAT’S THE GOOD?
“The cycle is very important to me,” says Hamm, pointing out that Bearaby recently dumped a blanket and its packaging on a compost for six weeks. “We took the compost and grew a tree from it.” The bags are made from blanket waste with minimal use of water-based ink.
Of course, the company that wants everyone to sleep better is setting a good example. Hamm’s flextime system enables employees to come when they want, as long as they are in the office (remote today) from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Hamm says her dream is for every household to have a Bearaby who becomes part of the self-care routine. “I want to manufacture products that are important to people,” says Hamm, getting closer and closer to the question: What would the world be like if everyone slept well?