Founder Q&A: Meet Thom Hemelryk, Founder of DROWSY
By Susie Willis
The founder of the silk sleep mask brand that's disrupting the beauty world
The legendary silk sleep mask from Drowsy has fast risen to the top of every beauty editor's top 5. With game changing results for your sleep and serious benefits for your skin, it's no wonder Drowsy has become a must have for any self care essentials kit. We sit down with Drowsy's visionary founder Thom Hemelryk to get the lowdown on sleep, skincare and the challenges of running an international brand.
What motivated you to start DROWSY?
I was suffering burnout from running hospitality businesses with my brother. It spiralled into chronic insomnia and so as a result I became obsessed with sleep, doing anything I could to have the best night possible. As I slowly began to get my sleep under control, I realised how important it was for our wellness, and decided that I wanted to help people like me turn bedtime into a restorative experience. One morning I had an epiphany moment to set up a luxury sleep brand focused on prioritising the bedtime experience. In a complete overhaul we sold our business and went all in with Drowsy and a mission to make the world's most luxurious sleep aids.
What is your number one skin health tip?
I prioritise sleep as a starting point for all wellness, including skin health. As a result of my lack of sleep I used to suffer with very sensitive skin, and when my sleep improved, my skin cleared up. Lack of sleep has been proven to speed up skin ageing and increase dark circles, puffy eyes and affect skin glow. So I think the starting point is making sure that you sleep well, partnered with a healthy lifestyle and good skincare regime to keep you nourished and protected daily.
What are your desert island wellness must-haves?
Sunscreen without a doubt! A feather pillow (I don’t travel anywhere without my own pillow!). And of course a Drowsy sleep mask to help me sleep well.
What do you wish your younger self had known about?
I think I’ve always burnt the candle at both ends, and failed to prioritise getting enough rest. Now I still work pretty hard, but try to keep a more balanced lifestyle between work, rest and play. I suppose it would have been good to know the effects of overworking when I was younger, but I think ultimately I had to find out the hard way!
What’s a night care ritual that’s non-negotiable?
I need at least one hour before bed without any TV, screens or stress. And I also need to be ready for bed at least one hour before I sleep. That way I have time to wind down slowly and naturally without any anxiety or stimulation. Every time I get ready for bed at the last minute or run out of time because I’ve been on my phone or thinking about work, I can guarantee I’ll have a bad night’s sleep.
How do you hope to impact people with your brand?
Our goal at Drowsy is to help people achieve a better quality of life through sleep. If you can sleep well then everything in your life improves, from your wellness to your skin, to your energy.
Dead or alive: Who would you most like to meet and why?
Coco Chanel - In the face of adversity and hardship she created a disruptive brand that became a long lasting icon in the world of beauty.
What is the hardest challenge you've faced on your DROWSY journey?
I don’t think there is any part of building a business that is easy. I’ve run my own companies for the last 10 years, and every stage feels like the biggest challenge we’ve faced so far. As a relatively young business it’s very easy to chase after every opportunity and idea that you have rather than focusing on what really matters. So I would say the biggest challenge is finding focus at each stage of growth.
Would you do it all over again?
Yes 100%. I work alongside people that I love, creating things that I love. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!
What do you do for inspiration when things get tough?
I listen to lots of podcasts for life and work inspo and I try to meditate daily.
Would you say that your brand reflects your personality, if so how?
Yes, very much so. Drowsy is an extension of me. I’m obsessed with luxury products and treating myself. I think life can be very hard and stressful for all of us, so we need to counter that with as much self care as possible. That’s why our aim is to make Drowsy as luxurious as possible, so that it really transforms people's bedtime experience.
Would you say you were a risk taker?
Yes. I’ve taken quite a few leaps of faith with regards to life and business - sometimes you just need to cross your fingers and hope for the best. That’s not to say that everything I’ve done has worked out, but I’m lucky to have an incredible partner who supports all my crazy decisions!
Do you have an inspirational quote that motivates and reassures you?
My family heritage is Dutch, and many generations ago they had an old family motto which was “Ik Volhard” - meaning “I persevered”. I like to remind myself of this when I need some motivation!
Thom has very kindly given us a discount to share so you can try DROWSY for 25% off your first order with code ROMILLY25. Shop now.
You can also read DROWSY's Q&A with our Founder Susie here.