There’s no shortage of irony that the epiphany came during a sauna session for Wyatt Westmoreland and Ed Hodge.
There’s no shortage of irony that the epiphany came during a sauna session for Wyatt Westmoreland and Ed Hodge.

Young entrepreneurs make a bundle selling sauna blankets

There's no shortage of irony that the epiphany came during a sauna session.

Good mates Wyatt Westmoreland and Ed Hodge had tried their hand and failed at a number of ventures over the past four years.

The young gun entrepreneurs, just 23 and 26 respectively, had a go at starting up a video marketing agency and then something similar in the digital space. Nothing worked.

At the same time, these marathon runners, who have a shared interest in wellness, each used to kick back regularly in saunas to chill out, detox and burn a few calories.

Wyatt Westmoreland and Ed Hodge
Wyatt Westmoreland and Ed Hodge

It was in the middle of last year, as Westmoreland sat sweating profusely inside a wooden box, that he had that light bulb moment of selling "infra-red sauna blankets'' online.

The concept, which has gained a bit of notoriety thanks to celebrity fans such as Selena Gomez, is much like a sleeping bag that you can plug in.

So Westmoreland, based in Brisbane, and Hodge, living in Melbourne, kicked around the idea and then registered their company MiHIGH in December.

They quit their tech jobs and, since launching in May, have sold a whopping 1.25 million blankets at $649 each to consumers across Australia, the US, Canada and the UK.

That's more than $800,000 in revenue and they're already profitable.

The blankets, designed in Australia, are manufactured in China.

Made with non-toxic materials, they feature a leather exterior and, naturally, a waterproof interior lining. Temperatures soar to about 55 or 60 degrees so it's a good thing there's an automatic shut-off switch after an hour.

Westmoreland, a Grammar boy, told us that COVID-19 turned out to be the proverbial blessing in disguise for the business even though border closures mean he hasn't seen Hodge in months.

With traditional saunas closed because of lockdowns, consumers have turned to portable versions they can order online and use at home.

Having finally tasted success, the lads are focused on expanding sales to more countries over the next 12 months. They're also looking to add new products, including something to replicate ice baths.

"It hasn't quite sunk in. We had failed for so long,'' Westmoreland told City Beat on Thursday. "This was the last swing at doing something before getting a bit serious. For it to work out, we couldn't be happier.''

FILLING CAVITIES

Pete Evans stepped down as a director of embattled Gold Coast dental group Smiles Inclusive this week and has been replaced by, wouldn't you know it, an actual dentist.

Yes, Pacific Smiles Group co-founder Genna Levitch on Thursday joined the board of cash-strapped Smiles Inclusive, which has suffered a litany of woes since listing in 2018 and remains suspended from trade after failing to lodge half-year results.

The appointment is unlikely to halt efforts by three dentists formerly in the group from pushing ahead with a board spill on October 23.

David Usasz
David Usasz

Dr John Camacho, Dr Arthur Walsh and Dr Philip Makepeace (yes, that's really his name) argue that dramatic change is needed to save Smile Inclusive, which suffered a $31m net loss in the 2019 financial year and has shed 97 per cent of its share value.

But chairman David Usasz (illustrated) fired back this week, noting that these gents have a history of failed attempts to shake-up the board but no listed public company experience themselves.

They also threaten a turnaround plan now under way without having any defined strategy to revive the group, he claimed.

"The latest call for an EGM is Dr Camacho's third attempt to remove the current directors and be appointed to the board,'' Usasz said in a note to investors.

"It is an unnecessary and costly distraction for the company when the performance of the business is beginning to improve.''

 

Originally published as Young entrepreneurs make a bundle selling sauna blankets


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