September 25, 2014

Finnish dads take the baby box global

Anssi Okkonen, Heikki Tiittanen and Anton Danielsen want to bring the Finnish babybox to any expectant parent around the world.
Anssi Okkonen, Heikki Tiittanen and Anton Danielsen want to bring the Finnish babybox to any expectant parent around the world.
Teemu Granström/Good News from Finland

For over 75 years, expectant parents in Finland have been given a maternity box stocked with all the essentials a newborn needs. Recently the baby box has become an international phenomenon after a BBC story about it became one of the most widely read on the site. Now, thanks to the entrepreneurialism of three Finnish dads, you won’t have to be a Finn to get one.

Anton Danielsen, Anssi Okkonen and Heikki Tiittanen have firsthand experience with the Finnish maternity package. Impressed by its contents the Finnish dads want to offer expectant parents around the world the opportunity to get a similar box and a great starter kit for parenthood.

“Our first child was born a year ago. When the maternity box arrived, I was amazed by the quality of the products and how cool and well thought out the whole package is,” says Okkonen.

“Lately the Finnish maternity box has gotten plenty of coverage in international media and we started chatting with Anton and Heikki about whether there would be real global demand for the box.”

It didn’t take the group of friends long to put the idea in motion and a month later the first baby boxes are almost ready for shipping. The aim is to build a baby box that matches the official maternity package as closely as possible, even including the cardboard box which can be used as a crib.

The official maternity package will be matched as closely as possible. Contents change every year and include 40-50 products ranging from toys and bibs to bodysuits and a sleeping bag.

The official maternity package will be matched as closely as possible. Contents change every year and include 40-50 products ranging from toys and bibs to bodysuits and a sleeping bag.

The baby boxes include everything from bibs, toys and reusable nappies to bodysuits, bath products and a sleeping bag. They focus on gender neutrality, Finnish design and high quality materials.

“Kela [the Social Insurance Institution of Finland] has done great work in designing the box and choosing products that best serve the needs of a family with a newborn. All of our families have put the products into strenuous use,” Tiittanen comments.

“And like Anssi’s kid now, I slept in that cardboard box when I was a baby.”

Negations with the Finnish companies supplying products for the official package are nearly complete. If any of the 40–50 items in the official box cannot be obtained (the exact number and styles change every year), earlier models or similar products will be provided.

“The companies have really liked the idea and want to be part of this box of Finnish brands,  but the final products will depend, among other things, on the amounts we can order,” says Tiittanen.

From stocked saunas to snowsuits in Sydney

Okkonen, Tiittanen and Danielsen want to be clear that it remains early days for the baby box project but the level of response has been encouraging.

“Although we haven’t really marketed the baby box, we have received a promising number of pre-orders through word-of-mouth. Mostly from Europe and the US, but also as far as from New Zealand,” Okkonen says.

At the moment the pre-order price for the baby box is 459 US dollars (355 euros) but nothing will be charged until the boxes are ready for shipping. The dads stress they want to operate in a very transparent way and listen to their customers.

“We had a chat with an Australian family whether the baby box would be suitable for [the climate of] Sydney in January. Probably not that well, but they still wanted to order the box because they liked the cool Finnish designs. It could be a waste of a snowsuit though,” Danielsen laughs.

“We have already been in discussions with many people and learnt that, for example, different baby boxes for winter and summer is something people could want in future. But the official maternity box is an amazing product and we don’t want to change it until we know what our customers really need.”

For now the three dads focus on building the baby box on their spare time and piling their cars, saunas and spare rooms with baby products. But the ambitions are high.

“Of course we hope to build a product that appeals to expectant parents on such a scale that it can be built into something big. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Okkonen says concluding:

“We are just three dads from Finland who like the baby box and we hope all babies around the world will have the chance to spend their first nights sleeping in a Finnish cardboard box.”

“We honestly believe that Finland is the best place in the world to raise a child. We have the maternity box, maternity clinics, free education, so many good things to build on. We want to offer a piece of that to the rest of world”, says Anssi Okkonen.

“We honestly believe that Finland is the best place in the world to raise a child. We have the maternity box, maternity clinics, free education, so many good things to build on. We want to offer a piece of that to the rest of world”, says Anssi Okkonen.

Teemu Granström/Good News from Finland

Text: Eeva Haaramo

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