As VP of Community at HATCH, Nikki Millman is not only deeply embedded in cultivating and growing the HATCH universe all over the world, but she was the first official HATCH employee in 2008. She literally helped build the brand from the ground up with our founder Ariane Goldman, where she’d spend her early days in Ariane’s living room cutting samples and packing up boxes.
Fast forward 14 or so years, and Nikki is a mom of her own to son Ryder, almost two. It was during her pregnancy and maternity leave that Nikki harnessed decades of HATCH learnings to create her own massive registry list that became something of a “thing” among the local New York mom set.
So it’s of little surprise that Nikki was gracious enough to give back to the community she helped create to streamline her registry list for the rest of us, all the while amending and editing it along the way. The result? Nikki’s List – an easy-to-use, modern, and oh, so pretty approach to the classic registry, taking into account not just what mama needs for baby, but what mama needs for herself.
We sat down with Nikki to get the scoop on The List as well as her non-negotiables and must-haves that’ll make this whole mom thing just a little easier.
What was the inspiration behind starting Nikki’s List?
During maternity leave, I wanted to do something to keep my mind stimulated. Obviously taking care of a baby is a 24/7 job. But honestly, I missed Excel! I missed doing something structured. And in terms of building community, I felt like I had been working at HATCH for so long that I finally could understand what it’s like to be our customer. There was an ever-flow of ideas running through my head at all times. I kept thinking, how do I continue to use the knowledge that I have to continue to help our community?
I remember when I was starting my registry it felt like disorganized chaos. I had zero idea what half of the items event meant (wtf is a bouncer vs. a bassinet??) on all of the 10-plus lists I received. I craved a registry jumping off point that was concise, clear, and thoughtful.
What was your process in planning for the baby and figuring out what you needed?
When I was pregnant, I would ask anyone who was pregnant or had a baby to send me their list (and that’s a lot of people in my line of work). I am an input person so I love to have all the data! And then, I remember a phone call with a friend where she was like, ‘Do you have the stuff for yourself for the postpartum prep?’ And I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ Because I had zero context about needing to prepare for myself postpartum (Pads! Peri bottle!) I realized there needed to be one place for everything you need for the baby that included what you needed for yourself. So I created a doc that wasn’t just baby specific, but was really mom-specific as to what you need during pregnancy, what you need for yourself during post birth, and then what baby needs. I just kept sharing it with people, and people would share with people.
I had zero context about needing to prepare for myself postpartum.
Then I was going back to the doc on maternity leave to make notes as to what I actually used and what I didn’t use. Like I did not understand mittens. They did not fit on Ryder’s hand, but I understand the need for a onesie to have hand covers. I was also making notes that were specific to where I was living. I mean, I was in an apartment in New York. What I needed compared to what somebody needs in the suburbs could be very different, because if you have the space to have seven bouncers, you could choose to do that (although that feels excessive but that’s my opinion!).
What were some of your learnings?
Essentially there are some things that are worth the investment and some things you do not need to spend a ton of money on (i.e. clothing that they’re going to grow out of within weeks). Investing in something like the Nanit monitor is worth it. It can be on multiple phones and is super easy to use. It’s a product that gives you that piece of mind you crave (especially with your first) because you can clearly see the baby at all times. I also think making sure the list was tight and not excessive was a priority. There is so much noise and while you do need a lot of things for a baby, it should be as straight-forward as possible.
Does Nikki’s List stay true to your original Google Sheet?
I have an almost two-year-old, so now I’m looking back and being like, Okay, was that really necessary or was I in the moment and thought it was necessary? I think the list that I shared with those friends and friends of friends could be very overwhelming, whereas this one is really concise, beautiful, and easy to understand. I like having the checklist at the end that you can print out and physically check-off what you have received.
Where do you feel like other registries go wrong? And where does Nikki’s List get it right?
They just give you way too many options for the same category. So to decipher what you need, and why you need it for your situation is really hard. I do think Nikki’s List will evolve because there are new inventions coming out all the time. I speak to moms who had babies five years ago and have no idea what I’m talking about in terms of certain products (hi, Doona!). But I think just keeping the names the same, like the bouncer, the bassinet, the baby lounger, and answering, why do I need this? I think Nikki’s List narrows it down. And you can look at this list and be like, Oh, I don’t need the bassinet because I’m not going to have the baby in my room so let me just get the crib. Whereas I feel like other registries can come at you like you need it all. I think we narrow it down in a thoughtful way.
Nikki’s 5 Non-Negotiables:
Nanit Monitor: It’s a monitor that is hooked up to your phone and you can watch your baby literally all day if you want.
Doona Stroller: For an infant stroller, I don’t care if you’re in the city or the suburbs, this one is the best. The Doona is a dream (and a really smart invention) because it is a car seat and a stroller in one. It makes traveling really easy whether that be in and out of your car or on an airplane. And you don’t need to get the infant car seat plus a small stroller because it’s both!
Nestig Crib: I wanted Ryder sleeping in his crib as early as possible. I know not all parents want to do that but it was something I felt strongly about (note: he is obsessed with it to this day). The Nestig three- in-one crib allows for him to grow in it. So it’s a bassinet (first 4-5 months) which converts into a baby crib (as long as possible!) and then to a toddler bed. It’s a really great investment in terms of not having to change up the nursery and lasts well past the toddler stage.
Lovevery Toys: I like not having to think about toys. And minimal is key in a NYC apartment. Lovevery sends me toys that I know Ryder will love that are specific towards brain development based on age.
Bumco Diaper Cream Brush: It’s literally a spatula for their butts because getting that paste on your hands is so nasty. It’s a no brainer. We had them everywhere.