Haakaa is a startup company that deals with breastfeeding products, teethers, and dishware for toddlers as well as other items that are essential to young Children and the Parents of young children. Known for their unique and environmentally sensitive designs created with bamboo, natural rubber, glass, and stainless steel, the New Zealand-Startup is already selling their wares on a global scale. Entirely environmentally friendly, they are best known for their silicone breast pump, noodle spoon, teethers, and absolutely adorable wooden mushroom bowls that come in a range of colors.

Haakaa was founded as a result of its creator struggling to find safe and non-toxic products for her sister who has special needs. By aiming to preserve her sister’s health and subsequently aid the environment, Haakaa was formed in an attempt to put “green products” on the market. As an “eco baby” brand, the company has a limited range, but they are finding much success. Haakaa is available now on the Target website (with a limited number of products) and will be in Target stores come mid-2018.

Recently, Co-Founder and General Manager Morgan Van der Harst discussed the creation of Haakaa and its evolution via an exclusive interview.

Company formation, name, and materials

Meagan Meehan (MM): Haakaa started because of your little sister, were you surprised by the gap in the market for safe and durable baby products?

Morgan Van der Harst (MH): After the birth of my little sister, we noticed that there was a gap in the market for harsh chemical free and safe products and that inspired us to start Haakaa. Courtney’s condition limited her in the products that she could use.

What surprised us was the limited number of products which were suitable for special needs children, e.g., the lack of products that included handles, a lack of products that didn't revolve around plastic and a lack of products which a child could use in a way that best suited them. Courtney’s needs were the focus of our designs and continued to be.

MM: What prompted the formation of Haakaa, how did you choose that name, and what was it like to get the company off the ground?

MH: After the birth of my little sister, Courtney, and trying to help her with her special needs, we really became aware that most brands on the market were not focused on the impact their products have on both the environment and our children. It was this frustration which inspired my stepmother, Shu, to create Haakaa. Haakaa meaning strength and to tackle any battle which life throws at you. This inspired Shu, who was previously designing products for other companies, to develop our own range of key products which were suited to children and parents who wanted to focus on functionality, safety, and the environment.

Once we adapted this concept to our range and made this our focus the brand took off and we became a must-have for parents all over the world.

MM: How do you design your products and how did you learn about the best materials to use?

MH: We focus on areas where we see a gap in the market or notice that what is available could be improved or simplified. Shu utilized her previous design experience to develop our products. We only use materials which are proven and tested to be safe, durable and as eco-friendly as possible. In our company, we are 100% focused on making sure the materials we use are best suited for their purpose.

MM: You initially marketed these items for children with special needs, but it soon grew to include all children and even adults! How did you get the word out so fast?

MH: While our designs were always focused on Courtney’s special needs, we soon realized that our products suited all children. Our eco-friendly, unique, patented products started attracting a lot of interest from all around the world because of their simplicity and high functionality. It was at this point we started expanding our range to include not only children but their parents too.

Stores, children, and sustainability

MM: Your breast pump is coming to Target stores through the USA in 2018.

How did this opportunity come about and do you hope other products will follow it?

MH: Part of our success in the USA is attributable to our partnership with Eastrock LLC, who has been promoting and distributing our brand and products throughout the USA. Our breast pump and its accessories are launching at Target early this year. Once people have tried our famous breast pump, we are confident that the rest of our range will also be available through Target stores.

MM: How is the Haakaa breast pump unique from others?

MH: What makes our breast pump unique from the rest is its simplicity, affordability, and functionality.

Our patented breast pump is a one-piece design which requires no manual pumping, no batteries, no plugs and is completely silent. Unlike other pumps which have multiple pieces and need to be sterilized after each use, our pump can simply be rinsed and boiled in water for two or three minutes. Our pump is small enough to fit in your handbag when out and about, and at home can be used in conjunction with your electric pump, or when used while breastfeeding, catches all of your let down, that otherwise would be lost.

MM: Sustainability is a big part of your company’s mission, so how exactly do your bottles grow with children?

MH: Our bottles are designed to grow and change as your child does. All our bottles have interchangeable parts that mean your bottle can go from newborn right through to school age. Each range consists of multiple interchangeable parts which allow your bottle to become a sippy cup, straw top and even a sealed container, which can be used for freezing breast milk, baby food or children’s snacks. Using durable materials such as stainless steel and silicone our products are designed to last.

MM: Haakaa just released adorable mushroom bowls, will you create more whimsy designs shortly?

MH: Haakaa is constantly looking to create new, unique and innovative products to add to our range.

As a brand, we strive to keep our customers engaged by constantly delivering products that revolutionize the baby market.

MM: What is the most important thing about sustainability and purchasing sustainable products that you wished everyone knew?

MH: Sustainability is the key to maintaining our environment. At Haakaa we understand that sustainability goes deeper than just your product and we are committed to ensuring the materials we use are from sustainable and reliable sources and ensuring our packaging is effective while also being recyclable and kept to a minimum. A key focus of our brand is minimizing waste to our environment by creating products that are designed to have multiple functions and be used over a long period of time.

MM: What is coming up next for Haakaa and what is the company’s ten-year-plan?

MH: Over the coming month’s we have multiple new products being developed and released. To be updated on product release dates and all Haakaa developments, follow us on Facebook. Our goal over the next ten years is to become the leading global baby brand and to be recognized for our eco-friendly, functional and innovative products. Currently, we are excited to be launching into Target stores as well as other large retail chains across the globe. Our fast expanding list of global distributors is ensuring that Haakaa is becoming available to more of our customers around the world.

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