Once upon a time there was a small, rounded little character called Herman, and his only desire was to make sure that no one ever felt alone. One day Herman was…
[insert scratched record sound]
I did consider telling the whole history of Hermans in story form, but, well, to be honest, it just felt like too much hard work! So I thought I’d just tell you about it in my usual blog style instead.
If this was a story then Chapter 1 would probably be the blog episode called - What’s your Herman? Now if I asked you that question now and you looked at me, blinking hard (Billy Bunter style) and generally had an air of fear and confusion about you, I’d suggest you need to go and read/listen to that super short blog episode first - BLOG: What's your Herman? You’re probably going to need this info before I go any further. However, because I’m kind, in short - the last question we ask all our 101 loss guests on the podcast is ‘What’s your Herman?’, which means; what have you been encouraged or nourished by, or fed into throughout your loss, that you now want to pass onto others.
Now you have an understanding of why we ask that question, and what it means (you'd need the full episode for that bit), I’ll move onto the next chapter in Herman’s story.
And it’s worth me saying here, that this whole concept of a ‘Herman’ and the question ‘What’s your Herman?’ is entirely made up by me and husband, Chris. Sometimes people ask me if it’s a ‘thing’ in the world already that they're not aware of that I’m just using - well, it’s not. It’s entirely, only of and from, The Silent Why podcast.
Now, Chapter 3 of Herman’s story launched on 8th January 2024. This very exciting chapter saw Herman morph from just words of encouragement, into a real live Herman!
But you might be wondering, what happened in Chapter 2? Well, that’s what I’m here to fill you in on.
It’ll all started as a whisper of an idea in January 2023.
[cue mysterious music that sounds like you're going back in time?!]
I was sat in a meadow of wildflowers, the wind easing through the long grass as it continued on its merry way, leaving the scent of lavender and jasmine in its wake, when an idea came to me that I knew would change a generation, and maybe even, the world...
[insert scratched record sound again]
Ha! I wish. The truth is I can’t recall when I had the thought or how it came to me, but it was nice to dream for a moment. What I’m going to tell you is a lot less romantic, because all I actually know is that at some point in early 2023 I decided that I wanted Herman to be a real thing.
Something that would help people feel less alone, in a physical form.
Something to hold, to squeeze, to smile at, to cry with, to bring hope when all else feels hopeless.
I wanted something that lasted longer than flowers, was less guilt-ridden than chocolates, and that came with some words that encouraged the person receiving him to know they were not alone in what they were going through.
I wanted this thing to bridge the gap of people not getting in touch with those that are hurting because they didn’t know what to send or say.
I wanted to start the ball rolling for people who wanted to send something but didn’t know what to write on the card.
I wanted there to be something you could send when there were no words.
I wanted it to be something you could gift to someone that would always be with them, even at times when you couldn’t be.
I wanted this thing to be there with them in the night when they were crying, in the hospital when they were awaiting news, in the supermarket encouraging them they could do this.
So, yes, there were a lot of big ideas and concepts that I wanted to boil down to one little ball of hope…
I wanted people to have and hold Hermans.
So, having recently started to learn to crochet, I picked up my hook and started to develop the face of what I thought Herman might look like. I’d been lured into crochet by beautiful pictures of amigurumi on Instagram - the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures. But I didn’t just want to make these, I wanted to make Herman as one, as a unique creature, from my own pattern, so he didn’t look like any one specific animal or creature, but was his own creation. And there were many strange and wonderful versions of Herman before the one you see today.
I knew he had to fit in the palm of a hand, I knew he had to have a nice face - not too happy, not too sad - I knew he had to be soft, yet not too light, weighty but not heavy. I wanted him to be a soft companion for hard times.
There was a flat one, a cylinder one, a pointy one, one where the mouth looked more like a handlebar moustache than a slight smile (this was a version where he was happy one way up and sad the other way - depending on your mood. And then some wools were too thin, some too chunky, some too dark, some too light. The pattern that was too complicated, too simple, too confusing. The hook size that was too big, too small or too awkward. The safety eyes that were too large, too creepy, too suspicious or too baby-doll. The Herman that was too light without beans, too beanie with beans. The one with the stalker smile and the one with the depressing frown. There were a lot of versions, testing and re-writing of crochet patterns, but eventually he emerged and I stepped back and knew that something special had been born from the hard work and perseverance.
The final Herman had arrived, and he was wonderful.
I’d chosen a wool that was 100% cotton but then I had to choose the colour, so I picked a variety of calming yarn colours, asked people I knew to pick their favourites, and the blue you now see him in was the favourite. And this for me was the perfect coming together of those final touches, because some people had said he looked tear shaped, so that worked well with that, and also - we all know what it’s like to feel blue, I’ve been known to use the expression myself ‘I feel blue’ - so it felt like the perfect colour locked in for the original Herman.
And if you haven’t seen him yet, and can’t picture what I’m describing, here he is...
You can also check out: www.thehermancompany.com.
So, I then set about to start making Hermans. Each one is lovingly handmade by me, and whenever I finish one I look at his little face, say 'hello', and marvel at the fact another Herman has been born into the world, then I wonder where he will go, what he will see and who he will comfort.
As I write this Hermans have already been shipped to new homes in the UK, Australia, the United States and Canada. And I’m prepared to ship them anywhere in the world.
So, who would buy a Herman?
Well, maybe it’s just you. Maybe you either like the look of him and want one, or maybe you feel you need one. Maybe you’re going through something really tough right now and having a Herman by your side would just be that reminder that you’re not alone and that there’s a small friend with you that understands your grief, wherever you are. He’s very portable, fits in the palm of your hand but also fits in handbags, coat pockets, glove compartments, briefcases, and he loves perching on bookshelves, desks, kitchen worktops - you name it, he’s happy there. He’s not scared of hospitals, exams, funeral homes, stressful family situations or difficult meetings. He’s the company you just like to know is nearby when life leaves you feeling a bit lonely. And he’s very brave so you can take him into any situation and feed off his courage if you don’t have your own.
Or maybe you know someone that’s going through something really hard. It might be bereavement or grief, it might be the loss of a job, it might be chemo or hospital treatments, it could be a tough anniversary, loss of a pet, or someone who’s just feeling lonely. Herman is the perfect gift for anyone that’s going through something sad, stressful or tough.
I can send him directly to you, or to the person you want to gift him to - anywhere in the world. And if you want to send him to someone you know and you’d like to add a personalised note, then you can write that in the box when you order him and I will handwrite that and add it into the box.
What do you get when you buy a Herman?
Well, the cost of a Herman includes the lovely Herman Company branded cardboard box, inside is your handmade Herman with a branded label stitched to his bottom, attached to that is a double-sided circular tag that says: 'Hello, I'm Herman. Here for you whenever, and wherever, you need me'. The tag also shows the website and a QR code for more information on Hermans - which takes you to www.thehermancompany.com (more on that in a minute), there’s also a small flyer inside that has the history of Hermans on one side and this text on the other side:
Finding the right words, at the right time, is hard. Especially if someone is hurting.
But what if there's another option?
A silent, squishy companion whose only purpose is to help you feel less alone.
Handmade by me, this Herman is now yours. A small friend who wants you to know that whatever you're feeling right now - you're not alone.
The cost of the Herman includes: materials, packaging, my time to make one (which is supporting the work of The Herman Company but also my work on The Silent Why), card transaction fees (mandatory if taking payments), UK postage (there’s an added fee for international postage), 5% of the sale of every Herman goes to a charity that aligns with Herman’s message of helping people feel less alone, and if you’re buying through a marketplace there will be a percentage of the sale that goes to them too.
So, to find out more about all this you can visit thehermancompany.com, which is the same link as thesilentwhy.com/herman that many of you will be familiar with. On that page there’s now much more to see than just how to find out what a Herman is, including more about which charity I’m supporting and where Hermans are available to buy.
When you go to thehermancompany.com you have four options to click on and a video by me explaining what a Herman is.
The first option is: ‘What is a Herman?’ and you can read or listen to the short episode explaining how Hermans first came about on the podcast. This is good for anyone new to the podcast or for our podcast guests who need to know why they’re about to answer this strange last question.
The second option is: ‘I want to buy a Herman’ where you can buy your own Herman straight from my website to ship anywhere in the world. Here you can see here how many I have in stock, and if I’ve run low or I’m away on holiday or something you can pre-order and it will tell you when the pre-orders will be shipped. This page also has all the information you might want to know about Hermans, dimensions, photos of him and the packaging he comes in, shipping info, what’s written on the flyer inside the box, and Frequently Asked Questions you might have. There’s also a video of me introducing him and explaining what a Herman is.
The third option is ‘I own a Herman’ and this is for those that have been gifted a Herman to find out more about them. If they come onto this page from the QR code on their Herman’s tag, or head to thehermancompany.com then hopefully this page will help them learn more about what they’ve been gifted. It outlines what Herman loves, what he doesn’t love, and what charity his purchase has donated to.
The fourth and last option is ‘The Herman Company’ where you can read the history of Hermans, more about me and why I made them and ways to buy a Herman or support my work in other ways.
So there you have it, this is Chapter 3 of Herman’s story and I just know we’re not ending the story there. I have many ideas for what to do with this little fella but I’m pacing myself.
I also want to say again how grateful I am to you. For listening, for being interested in helping others through grief, for working through your own grief one step at a time, and for being with me on this exciting journey. I really appreciate that, and you.
I came across this quote recently but I can’t trace who said it:
Your greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storms. Unknown
I love this because I think it sums up my heart for Herman. I know my storm isn’t over, it’s a constant battle inside and out, mentally and physically, emotionally and spiritually, and I suspect yours isn’t either, but if there’s one thing I always wanted to do, it’s to try and find ways to bless others even while I’m still in it. Not from some selfless, self-promoting, ‘look at me’ type motive, but because I know from experience that when I bless others, it always bounces back to bless me, encourage me, motivate me, help me keep going, and it ultimately feeds my hope. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?
So, if you know someone that would love the company of a Herman...
You know where to go.