How The People Who Make Every Chore Easier Just Solved The Stroller Problem
The following was produced in partnership with our friends at OXO, who consistently raise the bar on creating comfortable, reliable, and thoughtful products that are usable by everyone.
In the 9 months leading up to your kid’s birth, you’ll do enough stroller research to turn your bedroom into a Consumer Reports branch office — and it still won’t be enough. You can’t account for every situation you’ll face while pushing a stroller every day and in every way. But you don’t have to. OXO did it for you. After thousands of surveys, interviews, and tests, they applied their relentless attention to detail and question everything design philosophy to the Cubby and Cubby+ strollers. This pair of new strollers address parents’ greatest pain points and offer the most comfortable, user-friendly, and stylish solution to your newest challenges. Besides your lack of sleep (that’s what their coffee makers are for).
OXO started down this road much the same way you did: they got pregnant (well, their employees did). Within a 5-year span, 25 babies were born to OXO’s then 50 employees. Office conversations soon shifted to brainstorming ways to make the lives of new parents (including themselves) a little easier. That spurred the launch of their line of baby and toddler products, OXO Tot. And while the consumer needs were different from their housewares roots, their motivation and methodology was the same: solve everyday hassles with innovative, thoughtfully designed products.
Those 25 babies revealed some universal parent complaints, but to really learn what stroller-pushers wanted, OXO went straight to the source. They interviewed more than 1,000 parents nationwide — from first-timers to old pros, and apartment-dwellers to homesteaders — and applied that feedback throughout the engineering process.
First, they focused on storage, because lugging a stroller everywhere is tough enough without also having to tote a full diaper bag. Sure, the folds of a canopy make a convenient drop zone for your phone, but they also make a great catapult when you go to throw Junior some shade. (That would be the original shade, Millennials.) Knowing that, OXO started with an under-seat basket with pop-out extension, 2 seatback pouches, and a secret pocket near the handle for phones, keys, wallets, and quarters for the ice cream man. (Or a dollar slice. Dad’s gotta eat.)
Next, came the fold. The one-handed fold is a standard stroller feature these days, but the OXO team recognized a major blind spot: the unfold. Nobody ever thinks about the unfold …
“Strollers can be very difficult to unfurl. You have these violent, sudden motions. Or you fly around struggling with it, trying to figure out where the button is,” says OXO senior product engineer Tommy Hanson. “And imagine doing that with a squirming kid in your arms. With the Cubby, you push a button and then, with the same hand, pull up the handle bar and it’s ready to go. A totally one-handed unfold.”
Correction: Tommy Hanson thinks about the unfold. Thanks, Tommy.
“We tried to solve for everything by innovating around real people and their pet peeves, not just against the market,” says OXO’s senior product manager Amy Goldsmith, “and soon, all these thoughtful touches added up to a great product.”
Another small feature that makes a big difference: a brake that’s activated from above with just the bottom of the foot. No more chipping pedicures or stubbing toes while rocking sandals with socks. Not that you’d ever do that, of course.
Rolling Over Speed Bumps
Of course, no journey is without its pitfalls. One of the Cubby+’s biggest breakthroughs almost never happened.
“We wondered why nobody had incorporated the ease of adjusting a car seat harness into a stroller. Fifty or 60 prototypes later, we found out. But we loved the concept and didn’t want to give up on the idea.”
“We were brainstorming around harness systems and wondered if there was a way to incorporate the ease of adjusting a car seat harness into a stroller,” says Goldsmith. “Fifty or 60 prototypes later, we found out why nobody had done it before. But we loved the concept and didn’t want to give up on the idea.”
Fortunately for your kid, they did figure it out. The 5-point cinch harness is just like the one on your car seat, and will always fit around your kid (no matter how thick the onesie) thanks to a one-pull loosening mechanism.
And while there are tons of innovative features, the strollers also have to look great. The Cubby team eliminated exposed closures, fasteners, and rivets, and kept the clean lines and high-quality materials OXO is known for. Their mandate was to combine high-end looks with original features and strength to solve real parental problems — all at an affordable price.
This Baby Really Handles
Before it went out into the world there was one last, crucial step: testing. Lots and lots of testing. OXO’s New York offices are around the corner from a cobblestone street that made a great, bumpy proving ground. And yeah, they got strange looks pushing a 40-pound kettlebell up and down grassy hills and dirt paths in Central Park (although, to New Yorkers, such things require no explanation), but better to have them figure it out than you.
“One day we were out testing our strollers on all terrains — grass, asphalt, gravel. It was a beautiful day in New York City, pigeons flying overhead … and I just got splattered,” Hanson recalls. “Luckily, Amy also happened to be testing our on-the-go wipes dispenser at the time.”
See? They accounted for everything.