GUILT-FREE WARMTH WITH HOT POC
I grew up skiing on the East Coast which means I am more than familiar with how cold hands and toes can turn a fun day into “why am I doing this to myself again?” kind of day.
I remember having hand warmers leaked into my mitts as a kid and I could already tell that my skin shouldn’t touch whatever was keeping them warm for 5+hours. I also remember feeling guilty when throwing them away and could just picture a mountain of them in the landfill. But then the next weekend, there would be another pair in my backpack and it was hard not to reach for them in freezing -30 something.
Fast forward a couple of years later, I’m stoked to see a Quebec company taking the cold by the icicles. Hot Poc offers ecological warmth’s solutions for outdoor enthusiast’s frozen hands and their devices.
We asked a couple of questions to Sabrina Hémond, founder of Hot Poc, to learn more about where this cool(hot?) idea came from.
POW Canada (POWC): Being a fairly young company, can you take us through your brand journey and how Hot Poc came to life?
Sabrina Hémond (SH): It all started with a trip in the Canadian mountains. On a particularly cold day, in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, my group of friends were frustrated that our smartphones would shut down due to the blistering cold weather.
Motivated by the desire to keep our phones alive when adventuring in the winter, we thought of the crazy (but useful) idea to design a “sleeping bag” for our phones. After much feedback and several rounds of prototypes, we quickly realized that the need wasn’t limited to cell phones. This is how the idea of finding an alternative to the famous disposable hand warmers, which are extremely harmful to the environment, became a priority.
POWC: The Hot Poc hand warmers are a revolutionary technology in the outdoor industry. What did R&D look like? Were there any roadblocks? What is your long term vision for it?
SH: We were inspired by a technology used in the medical world that we improved and adapted for outdoor use. We are constantly investing a lot of money to improve our product. We work closely with engineers and chemists specialized in green chemistry.
One of the main challenges is in terms of deadlines. All our product development plan is done, but each step takes long months of research before entering the test phase. We are always excited about advancements, but these only hit the market approximately 2 years after we had the initial idea. And that is extremely fast for people in R&D and product development.
We also struggle with educating our customers. We have lots of cool information to share but lacking the space/exposure. Our packaging is small and our website is one of the only places you can learn more about Hot Poc and how to take care of your hand warmers.
Finally, our high level long term vision is that cold may never be an obstacle again.
POWC: Hot Pocs can be used up to 100 times which is the equivalent of 2kg of charcoal from the traditional disposable hand warmers avoiding the landfill. What is Hot Pocs life cycle impact and how should the user dispose of it when it’s no longer efficient?
SH: The liquid solution inside the Hot Poc is salted water known as sodium acetate. Although direct contact to the skin is not recommended, it is not a dangerous substance. In fact, once the Hot Poc is no longer efficient, we recommend to simply empty the liquid in your sink, place the metal disc in the recycle bin and for the moment, place the empty pouch in the trash. We are working to develop a membrane that we will be able to recycle! However, we’ve seen some people use them as stress balls or as mini ice packs. We love to see people’s creativity to keep things from going to waste!
POWC: I’ve definitely had my phone die while on the mountain because of the cold and although it’s very sad for my Instagram audience (wink), it can also be dangerous to not have a way to call for rescue/patrol. The Hot Poc Sleeper made from reused winter coats is an awesome solution to that! How did you approach other industry brands to create this circular program?
SH: The original reason for the company was to find a solution to keep our phone alive in cold weather. As we were doing some pre-launch market research in Banff, we talked to dozens of skiers, hikers, tourists, and ski shop employees. One employee had this great idea of creating our sleepers out of old ski jackets. We wrote this idea down, but never thought we would be able to bring it to life.
Then we did a social campaign in 2021 to validate this concept and were able to raise $76,000! Our concept was definitely validated then… So we went on and produced thousands of sleepers made of old jackets. We have great partners across Quebec and Ontario that collect and select fabrics for us.
We are now able to produce more than 300 sleepers per week, locally in Quebec.
Our next step is to work in collaboration with brands that would like to let us transform their “trash” (defects, warranty, products that never sold, etc.) into our iconic sleepers. We do invite interested brands to contact us!
POWC: Your environmental efforts don't stop with the products you offer, and we think that’s why you are a good example of what’s possible with a regenerative economy. Tell us about your other initiatives and why they are important to Hot Poc.
SH: We believe that we have all the tools and resources/technologies to compensate for our actions and make sure we don’t impact our planet. The minimum should be to “leave no trace”. The best is to give back to improve our environment and to inspire others to do better for our environment.
With Hot Poc, we’ve been giving back since day 1. Being part of 1% for the planet and giving back 1% of our revenues was the first thing to do as our commitment. Offsetting our carbon footprint is also the least we can do.
We try to integrate best practices in our everyday routine by minimizing our product packaging. We’re planning to improve with a new version in the coming months. We are also trying to produce locally as much as possible. Finally, we get involved with our community by helping with school projects and we participate in sustainable development training to always improve our best practices.
POWC: What’s next for Hot Poc? Do you have a new product in the pipeline or are you focusing on improving your current offering?
SH: We are 100% devoted to developing the best reusable hand warmer and exchanging a single-use product for a sustainable and affordable solution. We are investing more than 200 000 $ in the improvement of the product in 2023 and 2024.
We do have other products in the pipeline. We can’t wait to put them on the market!
POWC: We are grateful for your support and it only made sense to collaborate together since you’re offering a sustainable way to enjoy the outdoors. Is there anything else you would like to share?
SH: Just a couple of tips for people that are using the Hot Poc - we recommend storing them in a liquid state and avoiding leaving them exposed to very cold temperatures for long periods of time (eg: In winter, avoid leaving them in your car for a week.) When boiling them, we recommend bringing water to the boiling state before plunging your Hot Poc in the water.
Together, let's change a single-use product for a sustainable and affordable solution!
Find our collab line with Hot Poc right here.