With a market full of collapsible products — from dog bowls to lunch boxes — one would imagine there must be collapsible baby bottles, too. But less than two years ago, that wasn’t the case. When Pikesville couple Lauren Shapiro and Matt Mittleman searched for a collapsible baby bottle for their daughter while on vacation in 2016, they were surprised they couldn’t find one.
“That was kind of the light bulb,” said Matt. “Like, ‘Well, this doesn’t exist, why wait for somebody else to do it?’”
And so the idea for the Collapsabottle was born.
Matt and Lauren took to Kickstarter to raise funds and build awareness for the product, which they designed and created. In the first 35 days the campaign was live, 393 backers contributed $20,605 to their company CollapseAnd Go, with many backers preordering multiple bottles.
The Collapsabottle folds down to the size of a hockey puck. It is made from BPA-free, 100-percent food-grade silicone, a soft material that replicates the natural feel of a mother’s breast and is mold- and stain-resistant. The silicone does not crack and is microwave- and heat-safe. With a wider base, the bottle doesn’t tilt over. The Collapsabottle also comes with several different tops — including a sippy cup that is domed like a bottle nipple — to control liquid flow and to grow with the kids.
As parents themselves, the couple knew exactly what they wanted in a baby bottle.
“We’re very much on-the- go parents,” said Matt. “It was very much like, ‘How do we adapt bottles for our lifestyle?’”
The couple aimed for durability, portability, space-saving (the bottles can be stacked on top of one another) and longevity.
The couple’s now 2-year-old daughter Lexi was the first tester of their invention. They also reached out to friends to try the prototypes.
“We had a baby [tester] that was 4 months old, but he had never been able to hold a bottle before,” said Lauren. “So we were like, ‘Let’s just see if he can hold our bottle, just for kicks,’ and he was able to hold our bottle. [The material] made it so that he could grip the bottle himself.”
The couple has since been contacted by people in Canada, Europe, Australia and Iceland with interest in carrying CollapseAndGo products in their stores or buying them for personal use.
Once the product goes live, Matt and Lauren plan to reach out to big-box sellers like Target, Pottery Barn Kids and buybuy Baby, as well as local baby stores and boutiques, to potentially sell Collapse AndGo products in stores.
Outside of CollapseAndGo, Matt works as a healthcare consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton, while Lauren is a realtor for Keller Williams Flagship of Maryland.
Lauren and Matt have known each other since they were babies themselves. Born and raised in Owings Mills, the two attended nursery and middle school together, and got engaged after graduating from college in 2008. They were married in June 2014, and Lexi was born in 2015. The couple just celebrated the birth of their son, Dylan, on July 27.
Growing up, Matt attended Adat Chaim Synagogue in Owings Mills, while Lauren was a member of Beth El. They have been regular attendees of services at Beth Tfiloh Congregation since enrolling Lexi at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School.
“It’s like family,” Lauren said. “You walk in and everybody knows you.”
They’ve felt great support from the Jewish community.
“This whole thing isn’t about Lauren and I, what we can do, and how we’re so great because we made this bottle and we think it’s going to be really big,” said Matt. “We can only do so much. The community, just a sense of support and encouragement and helping us out, keeps us going.”
Shoshana Goloskov is an intern at the Baltimore Jewish Times.