17. december 2018
Keit Hints and Triin Juss have created the company Uneruno, and they have been producing weighted blankets since last autumn.
The idea to produce them came from personal need. Keit's child has an anxiety disorder and the child calmed down with a cuddle from the father. Keit had heard that weighted blankets are very popular in the United States. She began to research how to order one but there were a lot of insurmountable obstacles. "How I would pick the weight, the price for transportation, everything seemed so complicated," recalls Keit. After this I started to think about making one of these blankets myself, which could have a changeable and modifiable weight. Keit asked Triin Jussi to join her and they took courses in holistic therapy. Testing started in January 2017.
Keit's child is almost ten and primary school children are exactly those who have the most sleeping problems and need weighted blankets. The other target group includes people older than 35 who would like to sleep better and get more of it, because stress and lifestyle are starting to affect their sleeping pattern. According to Keit, the older generation remembers the heavy Soviet-area cotton blankets under which they fell asleep deeply and quickly.
A heavy blanket offers a sense of security, which the subconsciousness associates with hugging. "It's not the case for everyone," admits Keit, but 80 percent of people like it. The weight helps the body to produce serotonin and melatonin – these substances produced by the body create a sense of satisfaction and help with sleeping. The weight keeps us safely in place and doesn't allow us to toss and turn too much. In addition, the level of cortisol i.e. the stress hormone, decreases under the blanket. As a result, it is possible to relax and fall asleep faster, and enjoy longer and deeper sleep.
At first, they tried to make the blankets by hand, but they realised quickly that this wouldn’t get them anywhere. When the demo version was ready, they went to the Estonian blanket factory where they held negotiations for six months.
"We are producing them in Estonia, but unfortunately the filling materials are not from Estonia," adds Triin. Two different filling materials are used as weight fillers for the blankets: allergy free polyethylene pellets and cherry stones, which come from a juice factory in Germany. "They are well cleaned and freeze-dried. Cherry stones are popular in the dream world," says Triin. The blanket consists of 14 channels, which are filled with pipes of weight material. According to the amount of the filling material, the weight of the blanket can be changed. "We are trying to use as many quality materials as possible so the blanket can breathe, doesn’t make you sweat and will be nice to sleep under," explains Triin.
Even though cherry stones and pellets are not available in Estonia at the moment, the aim is to keep as much money needed for production in Estonia as possible. However, this is not the only good deed which contributes to the Estonian economy. In cooperation with Astangu Vocational Rehabilitation Centre and the foundation Hea Hoog, the production of blankets is assisted by people with special physical and psychological needs.
The first blankets launched in November 2017, and they have sold 300 so far. The main sales channel is the UneRuno online store.
The blankets have not been put on sale in retail consciously, because the wish is to personally connect with customers and see how heavy a blanket they need and what for. Before purchasing, customers also like to try how a weighted blanket suits them. "It's a question of habit and cognition," says Keit. The weighted blanket is definitely not for those who have breathing difficulties or blood circulation disorders.
On average, women buy 7 kg blankets and men 8 kg ones. Roughly, the weight of the blanket could be 10–15% of body weight, but children usually prefer slightly heavier blankets. But we must consider that every time you turn you have to be able to deal with the blanket during the night. The duvet cover also weighs about a kilogram. "We definitely don't recommend a blanket over 10 kg”, says Triin.
Two-person blankets haven't been made because that would be very difficult and it is not certain that the weight distributes evenly between two people during the entire sleeping time. Dealing with such a blanket would also be very difficult. It would be difficult to wash and changing bedsheets would require a lot of strength.
The blanket has been received well in Estonia during the year. Even though the return process is very simple and it does not give any obligations, only four out of 300 have been returned. It is increasingly more understood that a good night's sleep is the basis for good health and feeling well. "The awareness of sleep hygiene has increased," says Keit. The blanket producers have taken out an LHV micro loan for re-branding and searching for sales channels in Finland and Germany. If the weighted blanket becomes popular there, the company will have a lot of potential and that is something they are working towards.
Micro loans are undoubtedly the easiest and quickest way for companies to take out small loans. Normally, loans are taken out for small investments. The average loan period is four years, with the average loan amount 15,000 €.
For more information about micro loans, visit lhv.ee/mikrolaen.
Micro loan collateral is funded by the European Union under its Employment and Social Innovation Programme (EaSI).All news