A Maine couple is getting ready to start selling an invention that they dreamed up out of pandemic necessity.
Over the past four months, Jocelyn Olsen and Colin Greig have developed a battery-powered, heated seat cushion and created their own company to sell them.
Their business is named Hüga, which is a spin on the Danish word “hygge” which somewhat translates to “feeling cozy.”
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“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Greig in an interview on Tuesday with NECN and NBC10 Boston.
Back in September, the couple had an outdoor meal at a Portland restaurant and were cold. They wanted to see if they could get a heated seat cushion to make future nights out more comfortable.
However, after searching for such an item, they realized there wasn’t one in existence like what they had envisioned.
“I kept being shocked it didn’t already exist,” said Olsen, who combined a background in business with Greig’s background as a carpenter to design prototype cushions.
“We’ve been doing it in our free time,” she explained, adding that the pair has kept their day jobs while launching Hüga.
That’s meant 3 a.m. phone calls to suppliers wrapped around work schedules and time assembling prototypes, though that will soon be done by a company called Flowfold.
“Jocelyn learned how to sew on my daughter’s little Singer sewing machine,” recalled Greig, explaining the first days of Hüga’s existence.
The couple has since rolled out beta testing of their product at Little Giant restaurant in Portland’s West End.
The cushions can be brought anywhere from a hockey game to a backyard firepit but were made with restaurant clients in mind, with the same marine-grade vinyl fabric that are used in boat seats.
They also have a rechargeable battery that the couple says can last up to eight hours.
Little Giant’s owner, Ian Malin, jumped at the opportunity to roll out the cushions. He said they complement other innovations he’s brought to a new outdoor patio that features robust overhead heaters, walls with openings for ventilation and a concrete floor with radiant heat.
“We can still make things in Maine, whether it’s a new service like what we’re doing with the restaurant or a new product,” he said.
Malin also plans to sell Hüga cushions for takeout or dine-in customers.
No matter where you buy one of the cushions, they are a bit more expensive than a generic fleece blanket, since they are expected to retail at $124.99 each.
Greig and Olsen said they plan to launch their online shop within the next week.
Their patent for Hüga is pending but the name has been trademarked.