Business Maverick

STEEP SLEEP

Can you put a price on a great night’s sleep? Yes, you can — between R100k and R20m

Can you put a price on a great night’s sleep? Yes, you can — between R100k and R20m
Six generations of Swedish master craftsmen have presided over the Hästens family-owned bed company since 1852. (Photo: Hästens)

The manufacturer of the world’s most desirable beds, Hästens is expanding into Africa, where wealthy customers aren't put off by the price.

How did you sleep last night? Did you toss and turn, sleep too hot or too cold, get up feeling like you needed to go back to bed? Or are you one of the fortunate few who sleep like the dead?

You might have gone to bed with the world on your shoulders, but if you’re suffering from body aches and fatigue in the morning, the offender is likely to be your bed.

Most of us could probably do with a better night’s rest, so paying attention to “sleep hygiene” and investing in a quality bed can have a long-term impact on physical and mental wellbeing.

The secret to beauty sleep is not so much getting some, but more the quality of it. The value of a great bed goes beyond function to comfort, indulgence and superior craftsmanship.

Devotees of Hästens expect to dip deeply into their pockets for this.

The Swedish brand’s beds cost from R100,000 for an entry-level product to about R20-million for a top-of-the-range Grand Vividus, handcrafted by the company’s most skilled craftsmen.

Appointed by Swedish royalty, the company is loved by affluent consumers worldwide. Celebrity customers include Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie and Drake, who reportedly gave one to his bride as a gift.

“Rockstar” singer Post Malone has not only woven in the name of its top-end Grand Vividus into his track “Wasted Angels” —  which in 2020 started at $400,000 — but has been photographed frequently at airports, wearing his Hästens PJs with the signature blue-check pattern.

The world’s most luxurious “bed system”, a collaboration between Hästens and Canadian interior designer Ferris Rafauli, can set you back a bar. In dollars.

Six generations of Swedish master craftsmen have presided over the Hästens family-owned bed company since 1852, creating hand-made beds so comfortable, natural, timeless and durable that they could last you a lifetime — and then some.

Although a Hästens comes with a 25-year warranty, some beds still in use are more than 100 years old.

For three generations, they have been the official supplier to the Swedish Royal Court.

Jan Ryde, the fifth-generation owner and CEO of Hästens, explains in his book, “When Business is Love: The Spirit of Hästens – at Work, at Play, and Everywhere in Your Life”, that people don’t think twice about spending on luxurious cars, yet they spend much more time in bed than in cars.

Under Ryde, the company has grown into one of the world’s most beloved brands, with stores from Los Angeles to London, Istanbul to Singapore, and Cape Town to (soon) Cairo.

Born out of necessity, Hästens was founded in 1852 by an ambitious young saddlemaker, determined to climb out of his country’s grinding poverty, once he qualified as a Master Saddler, a certification granted by the King of Sweden.

Besides creating saddlery for horses, saddlers were skilled at making leather goods and horse-tail hair mattresses, so nothing would go to waste. 

Modern-day Hästens has long exited the saddlery business, focussing solely on bed manufacturing, but its methods remain grounded in tradition. Still only using natural materials in their beds — horse hair, wool, flax and cotton — as well as steel, these beds contain ​​no plastic, latex, rubber, or polyurethane.

Horsehair, the foundation for their beds, is described as the company’s most beloved material, with “wondrous properties”. Unlike the plastic-based fillers found in other commercially manufactured beds, horsehair is water-repellent, moisture-wicking and allergen-free. 

Every strand of horsehair acts as a tiny spring, providing support and pliability. Strands are hollow with microscopic capillary action that channels away moisture and allows fresh air in, says Hästens business development executive Laura Lykkegaard, a Danish Capetonian who arrived in South Africa in 1993.

Lykkegaard is the founder of Nordic House, which helps Nordic businesses to set up in Africa – such as H&M and Europæiske Rejseforsikring, as well as design and energy companies.

She has scouted for country partners for Hästens, which is how she met Mashuda Casmod, who has been country director for the brand in South Africa since 2010.

Lykkegaard is bullish about Africa, seeing big opportunities for Hästens in countries such as Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Angola, Congo, Ivory Coast and Mauritius.

A highlight of 2023 was clinching a Hästens business partnership in Lagos, where a store will open soon.

“The Nigerians I met are some of the most entrepreneurial, smart, curious people – they’re happy and willing to share their vast networks. We will do well in this market by making Nigerians sleep well,” says Lykkegaard.

In South Africa, Hästens partners almost doubled their sales in 2023. Earlier this year, a refurbished store opened in Kramerville, Johannesburg.

Hästens sources its horsehair from the meat industry, cotton from Egypt, wool from New Zealand, and slow-grown pine from Sweden. Springs are made from high-quality, heat-treated Swedish steel.

A Hästens bed has natural climatic control, which helps you sleep longer and deeper, explains Casmod. “We offer a 25-year guarantee on our beds but we have 1,000s of units internationally that are over 50 years old.” Plus, a few over a 100.

After 14 years in the business, Casmod knows not to judge customers by their appearance. She has sold beds to CEOs, politicians (who shall not be named) and young tech millionaires dripping in beach sand.

Customers become so attached to their beds that who gets to keep the Hästens has become a bone of contention during divorce proceedings.

Lykkegaard says she has spoiled herself with a new Hästens 2000T bed. “Every day when I have to leave my bed, I look at it and say — see you later.” DM

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