If you’re going down, it’s best to cushion the fall. Arthur Heidegger knows all about cushions. He had been working as the managing director of a traditional bobbin lace factory in Egg when it closed down in 1998 and the machines were sold to China. “I was in my early forties at the time with two small sons, a new house, and debts – and suddenly I had no work,” says Arthur. Faced with a truly dire situation, Arthur and Waltraud Heidegger somehow succeeded in founding the Himmelgrün pillow company. Today, their natural pillows are supplied to almost 300 hotels and are sold online and in specialist stores in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. These days, their range of products also includes natural cosmetics, incense and dietary supplements.
“At a time when we had our backs to the wall, we somehow managed to look forward,” recalls Arthur. “I knew my way around the textile industry, and my wife had always been intensively involved in both nature and health. So we decided to combine our skills into producing our own natural pillows.” The company motto is “Creating good things with nature.” With this sentiment in mind, the Heideggers began to produce pillows with natural fillings made of spelt husks, millet shells, cherry and grape seeds, to which they added herbs they had collected themselves. Soon the raw materials occupied a prominent place in their garage. The work itself was done in the living room and at the kitchen table. “There were literally materials everywhere,” says Arthur with a laugh. “Everyone pitched in, the whole family, whenever there was time between cooking and doing homework.”
Even their sons Pascal and Philipp, who at the time were just eight and ten years old respectively, were involved. The first decade was tough, Arthur recalls: “Our pillows were unique in the world, but few understood the value of natural material at the time. As a result, marketing the pillows required plenty of explanatory work. But we never gave up and awareness for our products has steadily grown.” Since 2006, the Himmelgrün company has operated out of a large factory building clad in light wood at the entrance to the village of Egg. “These days the premises has become a real health centre,” says Waltraud Heidegger. Best of all, Himmelgrün has remained a family business to this day.