KNOTEWORTHY: Kate Brandy of Harbor Hood

Kate Brandy, is a UX designer and founder of Harbor Hood. She has background in healthcare architecture and holds a masters of industrial design where she focused on patient experience in healthcare.

We talked to Kate about what inspired her to start her own business. Here's what she shared...

What is your mission statement and overall goal for your business?

Harbor Hood aims to create a quiet, supportive, and comfy environment to help patients get better rest.

My overall goal for Harbor Hood is to be able to help people feel better in moments where they wouldn’t have otherwise. Harbor Hood is different from other pillow products because it focuses on patients’ micro-environments within healthcare. It’s a niche market people get excited about. Everyone knows someone who could benefit from a Harbor Hood. Especially when they have a loved one they feel powerless to comfort. Harbor Hood helps them help someone they care about. That all the motivation I need to keep working towards my goal.  

How did you get your idea or concept for your business?

Imagine you are in a hospital, treatment center, or nursing home for a health condition that you are very concerned about. Beyond that, there are noisy people, staring people, constant beeping of monitors, chilly AC, bright florescent lights in your face, relentless neck pain from flat pillows, hard pillows, or “sorry we ran out pillows”. And to top it off a total lack of control of what is going on with your body. Put yourself in the shoes of a medical patient today. Waiting for treatment, waiting during administration of involved treatment or passing time in a nursing home where it is difficult to escape from “company”. You know none of the annoyances are the end of the world, but you would appreciate being able to make your environment better. That’s why I created the Harbor Hood. A pillowed hood that shields you from all of these things so you can find some serenity.

My research began when I worked in healthcare architecture and continued for my master’s thesis industrial design. Including, countless hours of interviewing experts and observing in different medical settings at all different hours to get a sense of what was creating a less than ideal environment. And I found a pattern. People who worked there were doing everything in their power to help and add comfort. I met some incredible people who dedicate their careers and lives to helping others feel better. So what was it then? In fact, it is the physical environment and the people walking by that are making it hard for the patient to rest. And so the idea was born.

What habits have helped make you successful?

My habits to continue: talking with people about my product and deliberately not thinking or talking about my product.

First you listen. You never know when you are going to meet someone who could benefit or have advice that could improve your product. Some of my most meaningful conversations are [randomly] in Lyft rides with drivers who happen to work at a hospital or has a loved one who they are caring for. I listen to their stories and their experiences and they end up telling me what would be really helpful to them.  

Then take a break. While I work full time and work on Harbor Hood I still find time to take care of my mind and body. That’s where the “not thinking comes in”. I workout in the morning about 3 days a week and I play soccer or go outdoors on the weekends. Both of these these activities have made a significant difference in my ability to focus and not get overly stressed. It gives me an outlet to release and reset so that I can take on each day. I have loved taking classes at my near by gym so that I don’t have to think about what exercise to do next, I’m just told to. When you are an entrepreneur starting out many decisions fall on your shoulders. Having that responsibility handed to someone else for that 45 min workout is strangely therapeutic. And the weekend soccer is a great way to do something social while getting a great workout in, GOOOOOALLLLL!