The Hegen success story was not one that happened overnight, even though ours is a well-loved brand among parents today. Our vision was to create a local designed range of baby feeding equipment with a global outlook that ticks all the boxes for new parents today – from ease of use to the pleasing aesthetics of its design ethos.
At the heart of it all our founder, Yvon Bock’s ambition is to celebrate breastfeeding and make this journey both sustainable and enjoyable for parents through the design innovation of breastfeeding products.
When Yvon discovered data that showed that only 1% of mothers in Singapore continue to exclusively breastfeed their infants for six months after birth, she was determined to delve into solutions that could help these Mums. Having been a breastfeeding mum for 10 years, she had experienced the joy and fulfilment it brought her and her babies. She thus felt a strong calling to empower and enable other mums to find the same, especially since she had access to the right resources with her background in manufacturing.
With this mission in mind and the support of a parent company with over 30 years of experience, Yvon founded her own brand, Hegen. Drawing from part of the German idiom, hegen und pflegen, which means “what you hunt, you must farm; what you eat, you must crop”, the name Hegen represents the desire to create a positive impact and contribution to our customers and the industry as a whole, in all that we do.
Designing for convenience and longevity
Coming up with the current product range took countless design tweaks of up to thousands of drafts in the five years leading up to launch.
Yvon knew that our bottle design was at its final stages when the patented Press-to-Close, Twist-to-Open™ (PCTO™) innovation was finalised. This is perhaps the key feature that has won over fans who rave about its ease of use (especially with a crying newborn in hand).
By doing away with the traditional screw thread which require two hands to operate, our PCTO™ innovation allows parents and caregivers to close the bottle with a storage lid or feeding collar with just one hand, freeing the other hand for them to carry or deal with their baby.
Our users have reported that they are able to finish assembling Hegen bottles in just five seconds or less! And as many attest, every second saved is definitely a boon to parents, who are always time-strapped. Even the fact that our bottles are square -shaped meant that it was easier to wash and “wouldn’t roll away when dropped”.
Other features that made parents happy were the space-saving stackable square design when used as milk storage containers. The multifunctional use of our Hegen containers range from breastmilk collection when used with a pump, to feeding bottle to breastmilk storage (or vice versa) simply by swapping lids, covers or collars. This definitely minimises spillage as there is no need to transfer breastmilk from say a storage bag to bottle. It also cuts down on the number of baby feeding and breast pump parts and clutter in the household.
As our containers were intentionally designed to be pleasingly neutral with an aesthetic focus, parents can easily reuse them in the future as their babies become toddlers, young children and older. Our parents have repurposed Hegen bottles as snack containers, water bottles and even recycled for kitchen use to hold condiments and spices.
Protecting the design for quality control
The PCTO™ innovation came to be our first patented design, with many more to come in the very near future! As a design-led company, it became important for us to look out for imitations in the market; not only from a business standpoint but also as a form of quality assurance to protect our customers from inferior quality fakes.
Although imitation is a form of flattery, these copycats are worryingly unethical. We have seen them at trade shows in lesser known markets with exact replicas of Hegen products, down to our packaging! These fakes are usually produced with cheaper components and under unsafe production standards. For baby feeding products, safety is our utmost priority and we have a responsibility to protect customers from products that may be potentially hazardous to the end user.
Thus, we had no choice but to look into patenting all our designs. Intellectual property protection is an expensive and time-consuming affair. The time and cost involved in filing, maintaining and updating the Hegen portfolio can be more than what it takes to create the products themselves.
But Yvon is adamant to continue doing so, not for commercial gains but to make sure that the safety and promise of Hegen products are held to high standards for our customers.
Incorporating the PPSU material
To further our goal of continuously providing the best and safest products for babies, Hegen switched to using our current PPSU material for all our bottles/containers in 2016.
PPSU or Polyphenylsulfone is an FDA compliant food-contact grade material known for its superior toughness and high temperature resistance. It combines the advantages of both glass and plastic materials making it BPA-free and lightweight.
PPSU is naturally amber-coloured and contains no artificial pigments. This meant that no dangerous materials would leech into contents under high heat of up to 180 degree Celsius! Bonus: the rosy tone is also a pleasing match to the pastel toned Hegen lids and covers.
Colic-prevention built into design
Many people would recognise Hegen’s signature off-centre teats but this isn’t a random aesthetic design choice. The off-centre placement actually helps reduce the chances of baby having colic and also reduces wastage of milk. More importantly, the angled design also encourages upright feeding, so that baby doesn’t lie down to drink milk.
Perhaps to some, this may be considered a small step to contribute to the health and wellness of babies, parents and their caregivers but for a breastfeeding solution brand like Hegen, it means the world. When we receive a message from a happy Mum who tells us that our product had helped her baby in some way, gives us all the reason to stay true to our roots of making a positive difference through innovative design.