Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hey there! We’re two young entrepreneurs from Toronto working hard to control this "side hustle" which is rapidly turning into our main business because of it’s fast growth.
Our product, Hush Blankets, is a weighted blanket that when placed on you, helps instantly reduce anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Our customers are mainly people looking to buy this for their spouses that can’t sleep, or as gifts for other family members. Usually women above 40.
We’ve grown fast, averaging 300% month over month growth, rapidly expanding into new ecommerce channels as well.
Aaron and Lior, the founders of Hush Blankets
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Who would have thought that a background in the software (ScopeLeads.io) and restaurant space (Revitasize.ca) would lead to a health product. We’ve always been entrepreneurs, both dropping out of university and with the mindset that we can create more for ourselves than school would ever provide us.
The idea for Hush started when my partner, Lior, worked at an overnight camp for special needs children. They had a room there called the "Stimulation Room" and it had all sorts of devices and tools that were sensory-related. One of them was a weighted blanket.
If your current idea isn’t successful, don’t give up until you’ve hustled at it for 4 months straight.
It was so effective that he kept going back there just to try it out. But it was ugly, and he knew it could be improved.
A couple years later, the Hush Blanket was made into a premium product that any adult can enjoy the benefits from, outside of a hospital or rehab centre.
We both have our own businesses, but we also struggle from stress and sleeping from time to time. Once we started trying our own product, we were in love.
We threw up a quick Shopify site and started running pre-orders. Those flooded in, and we knew our first order was going to sell out quick.
Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.
There is only 2-3 main manufacturer players in the market, but really they’re just textile companies that decided to perfect this and niche down. We are currently looking into keeping our options open by actually owning and controlling the entire manufacturing process from start to finish, which will give us the competitive edge.
The trick is designing the product yourself to be superior and one that everyone will rave about. This consisted of late nights deconstructing prototypes, and even buying every competitor’s blanket until we were satisfied with our first version.
I have limited experience in physical product design, except the odd t-shirt or product bag for our juice kitchen. In the beginning we really had to learn from competitors and limited market research with real people trying our prototypes.
We both funded our first production run ourselves (insanely expensive for textiles, super high barrier to entry), with a loan to the company we paid a lawyer to create.
Describe the process of launching the online store/business.
Shopify was a natural selection because it’s just so great at e-commerce. We only have one product at the moment, so it was easy to choose a theme based around that.
We’re both marketers by trade, SEO and Social Media, so we knew we had that covered. We’re also lucky to be surrounded by very good friends that run our AdWords and Facebook ads.
Everything was financed by us in the beginning. We pretty much poured everything we had into this, took out 3 credit cards and 2 lines of credits with 2 different banks to help with larger purchases along the way too. Over $80,000 spent, 1200 units on the way and we were ready to start rolling.
The first sale was made the very next day after starting AdWords. Since then, every dollar we make we put back towards either inventory or growth through marketing.
We don’t plan on taking a profit for the entire first year, and we know some of our competitors simply can’t afford to do that, so we’re blessed to have our other businesses that allow us to do that.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our biggest growth factor has been AdWords for sure. Most people think it is too expensive, but if you have an A+ ads team, and a decently priced product, it can work well with a lot of room to scale.
The reason it works so well is because people are searching for the unique product where they read about it elsewhere online. Their buyer’s intent leads them to clicking our ad and much more likely to convert. Our homepage is setup like a landing/sales page since we only have one product at the moment so that helped with conversions too.
We’re now spending well into 5-figures a month on advertising, with Facebook for retargeting, and massive plans to use it for cold audiences as well. Every 2 weeks we try another paid platform and that seems to fuel growth even more.
We have a campaign that "farms" new keywords that are “long tail keywords”. Once we know people buy through those super unique or buyer-intent keywords, they are moved to a winner campaign. The goal is to eventually have a massive campaign with only winner keywords that we bid on.
Lead times (the time it takes from manufacturing to warehouse) completely blindsided us in the beginning. It can be incredibly difficult to estimate when and how many units to order.
We are going heavy on video production for cold audience with FB traffic, and we even recently hired a salesperson to call our abandoned carts and give them a personal touch of customer service.
As long as it’s profitable (or break-even in some cases), keep doing it. My biggest advice would be to have enough cash and a really good advertiser to be willing to test things for 3-4 months before calling it quits.
We also hired a full time instagrammer to just do social media and find us influencers, which we plan to use as a big channel of traffic.
Email has been huge for us too, which we know most stores don’t tackle. Automations, winback campaigns, retargeting, thank you follow-ups, etc, not only help drive branding but have increased sales dramatically.
Connections are huge in this game as well. We’re lucky to have friends that can run our ads for cheap, do massive press releases for free, and that we can handle a lot of the marketing ourselves because of our expertise. Build connections, utilize them.
How is everything going nowadays, and what are your plans for the future?
On everything we do, we try to keep our profit margin at around 30% or more. Our biggest aim right now is to lower production costs as well as lead time so that we can go bigger with our marketing while knowing that we can deliver more blankets, profitably.
We don’t see the need for an office yet, or anytime soon, since we are pretty much digital nomads, but we did set up a home office where we both work.
In the coming weeks, we will be fully launched on Amazon, as well as expansion into USA and Canada with their own separate websites.
The long term goal will be to have all of our channels running like a well oiled machine, at which point we will likely be at around $300,000/month (if SEO kicks in properly).
More products, and variation, will lead to higher cart values and an increase in CLTV/repeat purchases.
Brand plays a huge role here as well. As we attack from every angle, we also have a more premium look to our brand, which allows us to demand higher prices and win more customers when people are deciding or comparing us to competitors.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Lead times (the time it takes from manufacturing to warehouse) completely blindsided us in the beginning. It can be incredibly difficult to estimate when and how many units to order. If it’s too long, you run out of cash to purchase more inventory. So it’s always a delicate balance there.
There’s also a huge amount of luck when it comes to SEO, which is by far the biggest driver for some of our competitors. We’re going full force on that, but it’s just one of those things you can’t fully control.
It also really, really helps to focus on one business at a time. Since we each have our own businesses, this is only something we can focus on for half of the day. FOCUS. Keeping each other accountable has really helped us stay on track.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Shopify for ease of use and order management
- Drip for email capture and automation
- Drift for customer emails/chat/targeted messaging
- Ahrefs and Serpfox for SEO
- Beeketing for social proof on the website
- Zapier for many of our connections
- Google Sheets for some advanced tracking
- Xero for accounting
- Scout Abandoned Cart Recovery - great tool that automatically sends you a Messenger bot reminder with options to follow up via phone/SMS/Whatsapp
A lot is also done manually (surprising, I know). If you have the time or money to manage ads and things yourself, you don’t need to rely on too many tools.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m not huge into consuming content. I’d rather look for a quick solution on Google when I need an answer.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I mentioned this before but: FOCUS.
I see so many people hopping from one idea to the next, or trying to many things at once. If you have a business and want to move on to another idea, make sure your current one has systems in place to flourish without you.
If your current idea isn’t successful, don’t give up until you’ve hustled at it for 4 months straight.
It also helps to have cash. It just makes things move faster and keep the ball rolling quicker. Get a job, save up, get investors.
Where can we go to learn more?
- [email protected]
- instagram: @ehspiv and @liorohyn
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