Blanket entrepreneurs give back to the community

Aaron Spivak, left, and Lior Ohayon, the co-founders of Hush blankets, pose for a photo at their warehouse. (Axel Villamil/Acquire Agency photo)

Who among us has not experienced the frustration of a sleepless night? Despite growing evidence that deep, restful sleep is imperative to good health, a solid eight hours of shuteye eludes most of us at some point in our lives.

Two entrepreneurs, both of whom were born in Thornhill, Ont., recently set out to change that by taking an existing product and making it better.

Lior Ohayon, 26, and Aaron Spivak, 24, were determined to help people struggling with insomnia, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Their product, the Hush blanket, which was designed by sleep experts in Canada, is scientifically proven to regulate hormones for elevated mood and optimal sleep.

After graduating from TanenbaumCHAT in 2010, Lior Ohayon took a gap year in Israel, where he was recruited to work for a Jewish summer camp for children with special needs in New York.

“There was a stimulation room, where the campers could touch, feel, see, hear and sense all sorts of objects,” said Ohayon. “In it, there was a weighted blanket. I found myself going back into that room just to get under it – that’s how good it felt. I saw firsthand the impact of how it worked on the campers, easing their racing minds and hypersensitivity. I told myself that one day I would make a premium version for adults – one that anyone can use to help them ease their stress, anxiety or insomnia.”

Ohayon and Spivak met through a business acquaintance and quickly became friends. They were both eager to make a life-changing business investment and, in 2017, the Hush Classic Blanket was born.

“We decided to go all in and we pretty much invested all of our money into a production run of the blanket. We found a supplier, we whipped up a website and waited,” said Ohayon. “In January 2018, it just snowballed. We knew that there was a niche business making handmade weighted blankets for children and adults. We wanted it to be in every Canadian home.”

The Jewish value of giving back was non-negotiable for the business duo. “We give 10 per cent of the proceeds to charity, as well as giving back to the kids who gave us that idea in the first place. We currently donate one kids blanket for every five sold, to organizations that help children with special needs, terminal illnesses or poverty. We also donate one in every 10 adult-weighted blankets sold to organizations such as homeless shelters, to kids with mental health issues and adults with disabilities,” Ohayon explained.

“Right now, we are working with over 25 charities in Toronto towards taking a bigger responsibility in our community,” added Spivak with pride.

Last summer, Spivak and Ohayon crowd-funded to create the Hush Iced Cooling Blanket, which is suitable for warmer temperatures.

“We raised $1.7 million,” said Ohayon.

Charitable recipients of Hush blankets include Chai Lifeline and Ve’ahavta.

“The Hush group generously jumped on board,” said Anne Ptasznik, director of communications at Ve’ahavta. “They have provided us with 24 blankets thus far, which our outreach workers have given to people who live in shelters. One of our workers gave the blanket to a young pregnant woman who lives in a tent at the moment and she was very happy to receive it.”

Ohayon explained that what makes Hush stand out from other weighted blankets on the market is that, “the Hush blanket was designed to put just the right amount of pressure on your body.”

Spivak added that, “Your serotonin and melatonin levels increase, promoting a deeper and more relaxing sleep.”

“The technology has weighted distribution within the inner weighted blanket,” Ohayon explained. “We accomplish this with smaller glass sand in more densely packed pockets. This evenly spreads the weight on your body, so you don’t feel like you’re under a giant bag of shifting sand. Our zipper tech system securely fastens the inner blanket to the cover on three sides. Instead of old-fashioned hooks, this ensures that the inner blanket doesn’t sag to one side inside the cover.”

The entrepreneurs recently won a contest for businesses with a social initiative, but they don’t plan on stopping there.

“Our plan is to increase our donations to one in three by 2020,” said Ohayon with excitement. “We were granted $100,000 to use towards our give back program and donation days initiative. This is going to massively expand how much we can literally give back.”

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Source: The Canadian Jewish News

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