Airinum helps the world breathe easier with its urban air mask. Built around protection, comfort, and design, it’s made to help people breathe cleaner air, no matter where they are.
But it doesn’t stop there – in addition to helping people live healthier lifestyles, they also make it part of their mission to raise awareness for climate change, a major issue our generation and the next will face.
We caught up with owner Alexander Hjertström to learn the inspiration behind Airinum, and his advice for today’s entrepreneurs!
Easyship: Hi Alexander! Walk us through your “aha!” moment when you knew Airinum needed to happen.
Alexander: Before Airinum, my eCommerce career took me through Europe, Africa, and Australia. Through these travels and experiences, I was inspired by how any brand has the potential to reach people all over the world and make a difference. After seeing first-hand the opportunities that global commerce brings, I felt confident and excited about starting my own eCommerce business.
As for the “aha!” moment for Airinum, I relocated to India in 2014. While I enjoyed being around the people, food, and culture, my body couldn’t cope with the air pollution. I noticed my asthma had returned, and one solution that helped was to wear an anti-pollution breathing mask.
However, most of the masks available were very basic, and clearly needed design improvements to be more effective.
A trip back to Sweden and a conversation with my old friend Fredrik led us to decide that we can and should do something about this. The next day, Airinum was born!
Easyship: Since you had an eCommerce background, you started shipping your masks internationally from the beginning. What advice do you have for sellers who are convinced that shipping within their home market is enough for their business?
Alexander: When you team up with the right solutions on the market, like Easyship, there is nothing to be afraid of. They offer the resources needed to help you understand the local requirements, such as customs and other regulations, for your key markets. Finally, don't expect to have a perfect setup from the beginning. Get started, learn, and improve gradually!
Easyship: What challenges have you run into as you've been growing your business?
Alexander: Finding balance in investing in our growth journey has been challenging for us. As we grow and expand into more markets, we need a more robust infrastructure to be able to give a high level of service to our customers. This means setting up new warehouses, local websites and also starting subsidiaries. A simple business can become complex quite quickly!
Easyship: How have you built awareness around your brand?
Alexander: We’ve been lucky to get press hits from major publications such as The Guardian, The Hindu, Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, SCMP, Vogue, Bazaar, and GQ, in addition to media outlets such as the BBC, CNN, CGTN, and SCMP.
Using social media and working with influencers have also helped continue to keep our brand top of mind.
We’ve also diversified our sales channels. Outside of selling on Shopify, you can also find Airinum products on marketplaces such as Amazon and Tmall, and platforms such as Instagram and JD.com.
Easyship: How do you distinguish your brand from your competitors?
Alexander: Our brand is more than our products. It is about fulfilling a mission to empower people all around the world to live better lives.
This shines through in everything we do: the quality of our products, the open communication – from our product descriptions to our shipping solutions at checkout, and the service level we provide to our customers.
There are so many great brands out there today and customers are getting more savvy, so being good is not good enough. You need to be excellent across all touchpoints to convince the customer to pick your brand.
You don't just buy products anymore – you buy the whole experience with a brand and take pride in being associated with it.
Easyship: What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs?
Alexander: I think it’s important to choose a business idea that gets you going, not just what looks to be a good opportunity on paper. Once you have that idea, set a clear vision and mission, and update it every year as you get to know your business better.
Then, I’d set a robust plan - a 2 to 5 year timeline is a good example - with clear milestones and targets. During this time, don't see problems, as they will always be there. Instead, see the solutions. While it’s good to think big, you should also have realistic short-term goals to execute on and measure.
Lastly, have fun along the way, as you’ll need to be able to draw energy from what you are doing because there will be some tough times ahead. The end goal should not be your only focus; the journey is worth focusing on as well! Therefore, make sure you build a team with people around you that you enjoy spending time with.
Many thanks to Alexander for sharing his wise words with us! Have a great product and are ready to go beyond borders? Sign up for Easyship today, and be sure to check out our case study of Airinum too!