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How One Female Entrepreneur Disrupted the Sleep Industry

When Kathrin Hamm started her company Bearaby, she sought to fill a void in the wellness industry that could have far-reaching benefits for her customers’ health — and the environment.

The only issue? She had trouble finding a partner to help launch her dream: to create sustainable weighted blankets that would address the sleep epidemic in the United States.

That’s where the Tory Burch Foundation came in. Started by fashion designer Tory Burch, it’s an organization that helps make female entrepreneurs’ ideas a reality through loans, education, and mentorship.

Investing in women

“Women are a great investment,” Burch says. “We know that if women entrepreneurs were more empowered economically, the global GDP would skyrocket — the latest studies say by $5 trillion. It’s a win for us all.”

Indeed, Burch’s foundation gave Hamm the confidence and resources that she needed to get her business off the ground.

“With a new product in a nascent category, it was not an easy process to find a production partner for Bearaby,” Hamm says. “More than 20 production companies turned me down before I found the right partner to work with.” But with the right idea and attitude, Hamm succeeded.

Searching for a solution

Hamm’s business idea was born of a personal struggle with lack of sleep after moving to India and leading a fast-paced lifestyle. “I became one of the 68 percent of adults in the United States who have either a sleeping disorder or some type of sleep issue,” she says. “After looking for a natural sleep solution, I found weighted blankets.”

Weighted blankets can help reduce stress and anxiety, aiding sleep. A good night’s rest can boost mood and focus, and even lower risk for obesity and chronic disease, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Yet none of the weighted blankets on the market met Hamm’s expectations. “I saw that most weighted blankets were made with artificial fillers, like small plastic beads,” she says. “This not only made them hot and uncomfortable, but also most critically, very bad for the environment.”

Perfecting a sleep aid

Bearaby’s weighted blankets are made of organic fabrics instead of typical artificial filling materials like pellets and plastic beads. “Our Tree Napper is made from Tencel, which is sourced from raw wood pulp in a closed-loop process and then hand-knit together into a chunky blanket that is completely biodegradable. Our Napper is not only planet-friendly, but the thick loops of the patent-pending layered yarn also allow air to pass through, which solves the common problem of overheating under plastic-filled blankets,” Hamm says.

Ultimately, she hopes Bearaby enables sleep seekers to feel good — not just because they have gotten enough snooze time, but also because their purchase is making a difference on a global scale.

Empowering others

Burch feels the same way about her foundation: “Championing women is a community responsibility, one that we believe starts with ambition,” she says. “When we encourage women to embrace their ambitions, we change the conversation and, hopefully, create an environment for women to thrive.”

Hamm leaves other aspiring female entrepreneurs with a piece of advice she credits with her own success: “Stay determined. Don’t be afraid of pursuing an unexpected path,” she says. “Especially as a female entrepreneur, you can run into a variety of unique obstacles as you begin to build your business.”

For Hamm, the reward has been worth the effort. “Wellness products don’t have to be complex, over-designed, or even electronic for you to know more about your body’s needs and help you feel calmer,” she says. “I’m proud to offer a naturally simple and sustainable self-care solution that uses beautiful design and organic materials to encourage a calmer, more collected world.”

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