Promoting sustainability and creating impact is particularly close to our hearts at hejhej. All areas of the company are geared towards this. On our website, we have added the tab “sustainability” in 2021, where we summarise important points. You will learn more about the team, our most important communication topics, everything about packaging and shipping as well as which bank we use. We have thus taken another step in the transparency of our company in 2021. In this article, we’re now telling you all about 2021 and have captured the impact we’ve created – our Impact Report No. 2!
What is the biggest challenge in organically building a company?
The year 2021 is now over and we are proud and exhausted at the same time. Everything is not as perfect and simple as it sometimes looks from the outside. 2021 was fantastic, we launched 4 new products. But there were also phases when we had to struggle with difficulties. We would like to take you on a short look back into 2021 and show you the impact we have had on the world this year.
In March, we collected donations for a project of SOS Children’s Villages in the course of International Women’s Day. On this day, we donated 10% of our proceeds to a mother and child clinic in Mogadishu, Somalia. According to the WHO, 26-70% of Somalia’s 15 million inhabitants live in poverty. The lives of Somalis are often marked by civil war, hunger, poverty and disease. In addition, health care in Somalia is largely organised in the private sector. Therefore, health care is currently not accessible for most. Together with your help, we were able to donate 186 euros to the NGO.
In May, we had our biggest mat production so far. Since we always pre-finance our products and are a completely self-financed business, these productions are a big challenge for us. Producing more mats, however, also means being able to better utilise the efficiency of the machines and thus reduce production costs. In addition, more materials are ordered at once, thus saving transport distances. Both measures also save considerable ecological resources!
In October, we launched our ‘buy one donate one‘ campaign for the second time. For every yoga mat purchased, we donated one to a social organisation from Frankfurt. ONE TEAM promotes integration work. We were able to donate a total of 50 yoga mats. Half of it went to the mobile gym on Lesvos, which aims to promote life and integration on Lesvos through sport and exercise. The other half went directly to Frankfurt to make yoga possible for people in difficult life situations. The focus is on single mothers in women’s shelters, girls and young women with refugee experience or young people from socially disadvantaged families. ONE TEAM enables disadvantaged sections of the Frankfurt population to get to know yoga and practise it together, including in the facilities themselves.
Shortly afterwards, also in October, we launched the hejhej Yoga Block. After working on our yoga block for more than two years, the closed-loop hejhej-block was finally launched this year. This product development was full of setbacks – we actually wanted to launch the block as our second product. In the end, it is product number five. It was hard for us to accept this extremely long process and to continue to believe in this product and our ability to bring it successfully to the market one day.
But that’s not all the new products for this year!
Then in November, we launched the sustainable eye pillow with Nuzyi Blackwhite. It is the product with the most focus on social sustainability so far. It is also the first product that is not completely produced in Germany. The eye pillow is sewn by the most wonderful social project in Kenya. This product has personally brought us many moments of relaxation and helped us to calm down in difficult moments. We can no longer imagine a savasana without our eye pillow.
For the first time, we have also disclosed a completely transparent price calculation for this product. Because hejhej is not about maximising profits, but about developing fully sustainable products and making a greater contribution to the environment and society.
And last but not least, in December, we were able to add a yoga spray to our online shop. 1.5 years ago we would never have thought that one day we would launch a fragrance and yoga mat spray. The development was a lot of work and it definitely would not have been possible without our great team member Kenya. We are overjoyed to have launched the most sustainable and natural spray available.
Yes, this year was great – but it was also very challenging. hejhej grew from three products to a company with seven products.
Introducing 4 new products in one year is a major financial challenge
We are a self-financed company without any investors. This means that we have pre-financed and self-financed four development processes as well as the four production rounds. These are numbers we would never have expected in the past. All this money had to be raised through hard work and the income from our first hejhej products.
We think it is important to also talk about challenges and moments of vulnerability. In society, this is often forgotten because big companies are constantly launching new products, so it becomes normal to see all these new products. But believe us, all this is a lot of work and incredibly expensive! It is important not to take new products for granted and to appreciate the amazing work that so many small businesses put into developing new sustainable products. There were some challenges, some tears and some moments of despair. But there were also so many beautiful moments, four product launches and the most wonderful team we can imagine. We believe that these ups and downs are part of the entrepreneurial and private journey. We think that it is the balance and trust in the process that counts in the end.
How we donated 21,464 euros as a start-up
As a small company, people often talk about the fact that so much can’t be donated. We would like to show you that a considerable amount of money can be donated to social causes. Since hejhej started in 2018, we have been collecting donations per product and these are included in the retail price. Therefore, when hejhej grows, our donation contributions automatically grow with it. It simply has to be part of the price calculation and you have to start with it from the beginning.
What impact do we have through the sale of hejhej products? – our 2nd Impact Report
Since the beginning of hejhej’s history, we have been donating a contribution per product sold to make the world a more ecological and social place. As described in detail above, we have launched 4 new products this year. This also means that we can keep increasing our impact and thus collect more and more donations. At the end of each year, we summarise the exact impact in figures in our impact report.
For every hejhej-mat and hejhej-block sold, we donate to the NGO Earth Child Project in Cape Town.
The Earth Child Project (ECP) dedicates its work to support children in disadvantaged communities by giving them access to yoga classes, environmental education and regular outings in nature. Through regular access to yoga classes, the children are more balanced, less likely to get involved in gang violence and other crimes. The environmental courses included in the curriculum give them a sense of our precious environment and teach them how to manage limited natural resources.
In the meantime, the ECP has 9 different programmes! In addition to the various yoga classes, there is environmental education in the form of “Worm Farming & Gardening” and also the “Crown Sisters Girls Club” in which girls are given tools for a positive self-image and self-confidence. The children and young people go hiking together in nature and there is also a programme during the holidays. In addition, the girls and boys can also train to become trainers and lead exactly these programmes.
For every hejhej-bag, hejhej-strap, hejhej-bolster & hejhej-spray sold we donate to the ecological Dr. Günther Pfann Foundation
The Dr. Günther Pfann Foundation works to preserve biodiversity and natural habitats in our immediate vicinity in Franconia, for example by planting trees and hedges or sowing wildflower meadows. As a former veterinarian, Dr. Günther Pfann also knows what the animals need. He is also an organisational talent, which we could see in a tree planting project we were on site for. You can find all the projects the foundation does in our article about the foundation.
In the first half of the year, from February to April, we were able to collect 320 euros with your help. This money was used for the renaturation of areas and the sowing of new bee pastures. This means that we and you are involved in the fact that the Dr. Günther Pfann Foundation has sown a total of 100,000 square metres of flowering meadow! Flowering meadows are always sown for at least 5 to 10 years.
From May to December we were able to donate 1,016 euros! This donation will be used for the tree planting campaign in Feucht. This is especially nice for us to see, as we were able to be part of this action on the ground ourselves. It is really unbelievable what such an action costs altogether. Dr. Günther Pfann was able to finance about 25 trees (incl. bite guards, poles, ropes, orga etc.) with our donation.
For every hejhej-eyepillow sold, we donate 1.92 euros to the social organisation Nyuzi Blackwhite
Nyuzi Blackwhite is a social project in Kenya, near Nairobi the capital. It is part of a school and training centre. Seamstresses get a future, an important motivation, especially in education! By supporting directly on site, the regional economy is strengthened. Sarah, the founder of this project, is thus a role model for women and men who come out of education and want to start their own business.
What is special about closed-loop products
All hejhej products are designed with the closed-loop, circular economy in mind. By using recycled resources for our products, we save a lot of new resources. These savings are also included in our impact report. Thanks to the closed product cycle, even these materials are recycled again and again by us and used for new hejhej products, so that they do not end up as waste on our planet.
The recycled hejhej-mats are made from foam scraps from the industry. This year, after long product development, we finally launched the hejhej yoga blocks from the same material. The best news here is that now even more recycled foam scraps find a place in a high-quality new product.
In 2021, we saved a total of about 6,050 kg of foam waste through the hejhej-mats yoga mats, about 1.5 kg per mat. In addition, there are 150 kg of foam scraps from the hejhej yoga blocks, approx. 0.7 kg per block.
The filling of the hejhej-bolster is made of husk leftovers from agriculture. In this way, we give crop residues a high-quality life in new products. In 2021, we were able to process about 1,204 kg of husk, about 4 kg per bolster.
Similarly, the filling of the hejhej-eyepillows consists of grape seeds, which also harvest residues that are not normally processed. In 2021, we gave about 10 kg of grape seeds a new life. This is approx. 0.19 kg per eye pillow.
In addition to the savings mentioned above, we save valuable resources by using recycled cotton in the hejhej bolsters and cotton offcuts for the eye pillow production. The leftover cuttings end up in a sewing factory in Kenya. Unfortunately, this information is very difficult to measure, which is why we do not have exact figures for you here.
For some time, we have also been getting back the first privately used hejhej-mats for our circulation. In the beginning, we did recycling tests with our prototypes and test mats. We are currently collecting mats on a pallet that have serious production defects or are the first to be returned by customers. Once this pallet is full, we will recycle the mats. No hejhej-mat goes in the trash – all materials can be recycled.
We are revolutionising the yoga world! In addition to moving forward with new products, this also includes a lot of communication about issues that are important to us. On our own BLOG we, therefore, talk a lot about the circular economy, sustainability in general, the sufficiency strategy, feminism but also about the use of our sustainable yoga equipment. We also integrate these points in our impact report because we count them as part of our influence.
We are particularly proud of every press mention. This year we were listed in the “Start Up Guide Germany“, together with Flixbus, Mit Ecken und Kanten, Tomorrow and other well-known start-ups. The magazine “Green – Stories about sustainable ideas” also reported on us this year. The growth of hejhej is so beautiful to follow. This year we also had our first TV appearance on Bavarian Radio (BR). In the format “more/value” with the topic “sustainable production” (broadcast on 06.05.2021) a clip about the hejhej-mats and the hejhej-bolster can be seen.
In order to educate even more and give something back to society, we also give personal lectures at selected conferences or universities. This year, our staff member Kenya was allowed to give a lecture on sustainable business management for the sustainability network sneep at the sustainability week of the universities of Bavaria. Sophie, one of the co-founders, has been given the opportunity to give a lecture directly at the University of Nuremberg Erlangen (FAU) as part of the lecture series “Business and Economic Ethics”. She also had the opportunity to give a very important lecture on failure in business start-ups at the Zollhof in Nuremberg. This is a topic that has hardly been addressed in the start-up world. Among other things, our Instagram post at the end of the year was inspired by this.
Cooperation with workplaces for people with disabilities
An important part of our start-up is our partner workshop, which employs people with disabilities. It is therefore particularly important for us to talk about the topic of integration. On World Downs Syndrome Day this year 21.03.2021, we enclosed cards designed by Mari&Anne with the order. The postcards went down so well with you and we received such valuable feedback that we would very much like to repeat this campaign again in 2022.
Towards the end of the year, we worked with Sabine from Mari&Anne on a workplace guide for you. On the occasion of the many discussions on the very complex issue of work and wages in workplaces for people with disabilities, we have spent several months intensively working on the topic. We have had many discussions with experts and then compiled a PDF guide to understand this complex issue with all the actors involved.
Videos to encourage rethinking
Together with our friend and videographer Steve, we have also published a few videos this year on Instagram and Youtube. You can therefore find an overview of the videos in our impact report. We are particularly proud of the documentation about our hejhej-bolster. It is also very special for us to tell you about all the steps of product development one by one and to show you that we really pay attention to every detail in the development of our products – right down to the sewing thread.
On International World Yoga Day, we created the video “Am I a yogi?” together with our community. Anyone could send in a video of why they’re feeling yogi. For us, this action was a great success because so many different people participated and the video was shared so often on social media.
Also, a big hit was our Black Friday video: Anti Black Friday! We ourselves were so exhausted by all the sale offers, sustainable or not, and especially on social media, like Instagram. We, therefore, called on people not to consume or to consume mindfully and to question their purchases with our favourite question: Do I really need this? As mentioned above, the sufficiency strategy, where this question comes from, is an important communication topic on our part.
We use our reach to report on sensitive or underrepresented issues.
Impact report – hejhej Impact as a whole
We have been selling yoga equipment for about four years now. We would also like to pass on to you all the impact that we have been able to create together with you. We are very proud to make our world a little fairer and more sustainable with our start-up.
In total, we saved 13,729 kg of waste with hejhej, donated 158 yoga mats, planted 5,159 trees, donated 14,896 euros to the ECP in Cape Town, 97.97 euros to the Kenyan project Nyuzi Blackwhite and 1,336 euros to the Franconian foundation of Dr. Günther Pfann.
Thus, we were able to donate a total of 21,463.97 euros.
With that, we say THANK YOU for being part of our hejhej journey.