Hegen Founder Yvon Bock Aims to Change the Lives of Mothers Around the World

By Marianne Tan
Photography by Darren Gabriel Leow
Styling by CK Koo
Hair and makeup by Angel Gwee using Davines and Guerlain
Shot on location at Qsqaure – Marquis Furniture Gallery, featuring Gianfranco Ferré Home
08 Feb 2024

For Yvon Bock, founder of mother and baby care brand Hegen, empowering every mother on their breastfeeding journey is her way of giving back to the community.

If life was made up of a series of defining moments that chart one’s purpose and destiny, then Yvon Bock’s recovery from a “life-threatening crisis” during the delivery of her fourth child, which eventually inspired her to create mother and baby care brand Hegen, would surely be at the top of the list.

Bock very quickly realized that she had been given an “opportunity to cherish” when she caught sight of her child in her cradle at the hospital.

“Hope reignited in me because it struck me that I have four children, that I was alive, and everything is possible,” she recalls. “Life had given me a second chance, and I decided that I had to give back.”

The notion of ‘giving back’ would eventually take shape in the form of creating “an ecosystem of products that working mothers can use to continue providing for their little ones even as they excel at their career goals”. Bock took inspiration from another one of her personal defining moments – the pain points that she experienced as a working mother who had to juggle the demands of work as she religiously breastfed her children.

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“In my earlier days of being a working mother, I always had to bring separate, clunky parts, with singular purposes, to serve the different needs of pumping or storing as I went back to work as a breastfeeding mum. I wanted breastfeeding mothers to feel dignified and proud of themselves if they needed to pump at work and store the milk for their children.”

Statistics from the World Health Organisation reveal the startling impact of these challenges: Out of 95 per cent of mothers who initiate breastfeeding, only 21 per cent sustain this for six months or more. Reasons cited include inability to keep up an intense feeding routine with the demands of work and struggles in maintaining milk supply because of stress and difficulties in having the infants latch on.

This eventually led Bock to establish Hegen (which draws from part of a German idiom, hegen und pflegen, or “to cherish and nurture with care”) in 2015. At that point, it had taken her five years and over 200 failed prototypes and rounds of iterations before the first product, the Hegen Press-to-Close, Twist-to-Open™ (PCTO™) Feeding Bottles and Breast Milk Container, was successfully developed from the initial design.

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“The patented PCTO™ mechanism makes one-hand closure possible for parents with hands full, something that is common for parents when preparing a bottle of milk while carrying their little one. Together with the Hegen Sqround™ (square-round) shape design that prevents Hegen bottles from rolling away, our Hegen bottles maximize the much-needed element of convenience for parents,” she adds.

“Hegen is thus my way of paying it forward, to serve 100 million mothers across the globe.”


Navigating Challenges

Like most entrepreneurial journeys, Bock’s was not without its trials and tribulations. 

Just before the launch of Bock’s initial design for one of Hegen’s products, she realized that it had been leaked. Later, when the revised product was finally launched, it faced a lukewarm reception – something that Bock acknowledges frankly was due to Hegen’s initial lack of credibility among parents.

“We were a newcomer in the industry – untested and unfamiliar to parents. Introducing our product required overcoming scepticism. As a parent myself, I know first-hand the importance of credibility behind every single infant care product we use.

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Bock took these challenges in her stride. The leaked design forced her and her design team back to the drawing board, but would turn out to be what inspired them to conceptualize the signature square-round shape design of Hegen products. To build credibility, Hegen focused on creating content on how Hegen bottles could better support the breastfeeding journey, whilst collecting written and verbal testimonials from converts.

Bock says: “The turning point was when we secured our first retail point at a Takashimaya pop-up. I was on the ground, explaining the Hegen PCTO™ bottle to every mother who stopped by. They gave me a chance to help them understand my mission, why and how I designed the Hegen PCTO™ Ecosystem. Hearing a story that they could relate to, they decided to give our products a try and subsequently built an affinity with our brand, becoming loyal advocates of Hegen.”

To battle the ongoing problem of copycat products, Hegen developed a “two-prong approach of protection and enforcement to strengthen [its] IP Portfolio”. To date, Hegen has filed 749 trademarks, 50 designs and 34 patents worldwide to ensure that its brand and products are well-protected, while partnering global watchdog companies to monitor IP infringements on its products around the world.


Building a Better World for Moms and Children

Almost a decade since Hegen’s inception, Bock continues to make good on her promise to empower mothers around the world. From a single breastfeeding solution, Hegen has grown its product range and added facets of services and education and is currently available in 24 international markets.

During the pandemic, Bock and her husband started the Hegen Lactation Centre to cater to expectant mums who could not attend antenatal classes typically held at hospitals. Today, in-house International Board Certified Lactation Consultants and maternal specialists continue to conduct antenatal classes and consultations, providing new parents a safe space to prepare for the birth of their baby, the postpartum period, and the transition back to work for breastfeeding working mums.

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A secondary feeding line, comprising items like a straw cup and drinking bottle catering to children between the ages of nine months to two years and beyond, has also since been launched. The intention, Bock explains, is to enable the brand to “grow with the family and meet their evolving needs throughout the child’s growth”.

For her efforts and gumption, Bock was recognized as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2023 Singapore. The award recognizes entrepreneurial achievements of individuals that demonstrate vision, leadership, and success – and work to improve quality of life in their communities and countries around the world.

While she counts empathy and courage as key tenets that have guided her along the way, her north star continues to be what put her on this entrepreneurial journey in the first place – “serve mothers all around the world”.

“Till this day, it is still heart-warming to recall the positive feedback and thank you messages mothers have left for us, on how the classes have helped them have a confident start to parenthood.”

“Success should not be solely measured by financial gains or industry accolades. More than that, it is about fulfilling the ‘why’ that led us to create Hegen in the first place and every entrepreneurial pursuit that comes after — and that is to empower every working mother on their breastfeeding journey and leave a positive, lasting impact in the community.”