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Meet Kate Brandy of Harbor Hood & Animaloom

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Brandy.

Kate, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
When I went to graduate school after leaving a healthcare architecture firm, I was encouraged to marry the way I observe the world with the way I love to create. I observe the world around me with the most focus when I am waiting for something and I cannot do much else.

Those I observe are most often waiting too. What began organically as I waited in airports and in cars on road trips grew into a deeper curiosity about the condition of waiting. I now actively study waiting not only when traveling but also in hospitals, medical treatment centers, and elder care facilities. It’s when people temporarily assume roles in environments ie; the patient, the air traveler, the car passenger, that come with unchoreographed downtime. How your mind, body, and spirit feel during those “in-between” times can change your outlook on your current state.

I found that if I can create products that can change the way people feel during those moments they can have a better experience. Animaloom (animal-shaped looms) and Harbor Hood (a pillowed hood that helps you control your environment) are products that came out of what I observed when people assume the role of patient and passenger.

Animaloom came from the idea that both kids and adults like to create with their hands. When waiting, the fidgeting and boredom ensue despite your electronics. I wanted to create a product that would take you away from the iPad and replace it with a tactile activity. I think the act of creating and crafting can bring serenity to your mind and help pleasantly pass time that would normally feel excruciating.

As for Harbor Hood, 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 fluorescent 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 the 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 that revealed this opportunity included 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. I want to help others improve their micro-environment. Through a supportive, quiet, private and comfy Harbor Hood your chances of resting just got a whole lot better.

Has it been a smooth road?
There is nothing easy about creating something of value from nothing. But I view the challenges as a puzzle and I get a rush out of breaking through barriers. When I get an idea it’s because I see an opportunity to make moments in people’s lives better.

Seeing the opportunity is just the first step. Then comes the hard part, narrowing down the torrent of possible solutions in my head and figuring out how to make one work in the real world. Even if you have the idea right, the way you execute may have a lot of variables. This is where most people might give up. It takes iteration after iteration. I constantly look for feedback from people who want to use the product.

Sometimes it is hard when you feel you have it figured out and user feedback pushed in another direction. But you have to be willing to listen. Even if I think it should be one way it matters more what the end user wants.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Harbor Hood & Animaloom – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
My company creates tools to let people improve the way they experience unredeemed time.

I create animalooms, animal shaped loom kits great for learning to weave or for those who want a compact travel craft. All locally made and I sell them on Etsy and at markets around town. Animaloom is innovative in combining shapes as looms like no other kit on the market.

And Harbor Hood is a pillowed hood aimed to create a quiet, supportive, and comfy environment to help patients get better rest. This product is currently in development all over New England and launching early next year on Kickstarter!

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. With both products, I’m most proud of the fact that I am able to help people feel better in moments where they wouldn’t have otherwise. That keeps me going.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The level of quality people in Boston is elating. I have been delighted to be able to go to markets and connect with people over animalooms. We go on long tangents about crafting and swapping tips and tricks. I love that! It’s a very knowledge sharing type of community.

And I least like the incessant traffic every morning making my long walk to work an agility course!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Charlotte Fabe

Getting in touch: BostonVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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