Hush: Worth The Weight
After a 2019 appearance on Dragon’s Den, Hush’s popularity went mainstream. Its co-founders discuss the impact of the show and what they’re doing now to give back.
While both grew up in Thornhill, Ontario, Lior Ohayon and Aaron Spivak’s route to entrepreneurship was different. Where Spivak talks of starting a cold-press juice business with his brothers and mother, spurred by a shared interest in health, wellness and athletics, Ohayon describes himself as more of a bookworm, with his first taste of entrepreneurship coming from working with clients on digital marketing.
The two partnered in 2017, when they brought their talents and expertise together to launch Hush, a brand known today for selling Canada’s best weighted blankets. It’s a product that applies pressure over the whole body, acting as a hug or cocoon while you sleep. You may think they’re impractical for summer, but their Hush Iced uses technology that makes it stays cool, even in warm weather.
“I worked in a summer camp with special needs children in 2011, and they had a stimulation room, including things on the wall you could touch or sounds you could hear,” says Ohayon. “They had these blankets, and I remember wanting to go back to this room because I loved them so much. When I approached Aaron with the idea six years later, it was about making a version of these blankets that was premium, looks good on your bed, for anyone who has a sleeping disorder, sensory disorder, or is suffering from anxiety or stress.”
The science behind weighted blankets has been well documented, with research showing that Deep Touch Pressure Stimulation (DTPS) helps people fall into a deeper sleep faster so they feel better and more rested when they wake. Paired with the fact that 30 per cent of Canadians suffer from a sleeping disorder and, as of 2021, particularly with the pandemic, one in five Canadians screened positive for symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, and you see the importance of something like Hush.
Though the Hush brand has moved from strength to strength since its launch, a defining moment was their appearance on Dragon’s Den in 2019, where they received an offer of investment from all six dragons. “It accelerated our growth in the same way you could say the pandemic accelerated our growth,” Ohayon says. “It took us to the next stage, quickly. It put us in front of millions of Canadians overnight, essentially doubling or even tripling our business. It’s not just being on the show. It’s the social proof and being able to tell our customers, who now trust us more.”
“We very much believe in profit with purpose. We’re unwavering in our support for the community”
It was also during this television appearance that they publicly announced their GiveBack Blanket Donation Program, during which the brand donates one out of every 10 adult blankets sold and one out of every five children’s blankets sold to different charities. “We target all kinds of issues, from youth centres and homelessness to similar camps that Lior donated his time to when we found out about the blankets,” says Spivak. “In 2020, we donated close to a million dollars worth of blankets. We very much believe in profit with purpose. We’re unwavering in our support for the community.”
That support doesn’t just exist with donations, either. Spurred by the devastating impact of COVID-19 on small businesses, Hush launched an initiative to help them weather the storm. “We sent out an email and through our social media channels to say we want to work with a small business and use everything at our disposal to help support them, from website creation to video, logistics, packaging, sourcing and our database of customers,” Spivak continues.
After receiving thousands of applications, they decided to partner with Morning Glow, a brand making eco-friendly candles by hand in Toronto. “We launched 400 candles, and it sold out over the weekend. She was able to kick-start her whole business, and now she’s got orders coming in left and right.”
Having opened a new warehouse in 2020, and with plans to expand into new products, the pair might not have a clear-cut plan of where the business will go, but it’s clear they’re moving in the right direction. “We make one-year plans that don’t line up. We make quarterly plans that don’t line up,” says Spivak. “We knew where we’d be from the very first day. Maybe the speed or progression no one could predict, but the conversations we’re having, the team we have, the things we’re executing are exactly what we said we’d be doing two or three years ago. Those were our dreams, and we’re living through it.”
INTERVIEW BY ESTELLE ZENTIL