Abdu’l-Baha was the eldest son of Baha’u’llah. When Abdu’l-Baha passed away on 28 November 1921, He was eulogized as One who led humanity to the “Way of Truth,” as a “pillar of peace” and the embodiment of “glory and greatness.”
Baha’is see the young as the most precious treasure a community can possess. In them are the promise and guarantee of the future. Yet, in order for this promise to be realised, children need to receive spiritual nourishment, such as can be found in the children’s classes happening all around the world.
Happy Heart Kid: Character-building Activity Kits for Kids
I get really excited when I find out about products for children that aim to assist with their moral and spiritual development. I am so grateful to live in this age of instant communication so I can ask other Baha’i mothers questions about the materials and tools they have created and use in their daily lives but there are so few resources out there that are already thoughtfully assembled and ready to go. So you can imagine my joy in discovering Happy Heart Kid, a company that makes character building activity kits for little ones! I was eager to find out all about it and Archana Jiwnani, the woman behind Happy Heart Kid, was happy to oblige.
Baha’i Blog: This is so exciting! What was the inspiration behind Happy Heart Kid?
Thank you, Sonjel. We hope our product is of service to families such as yours. The inspiration for the project came from a neighborhood children’s class. I met Martha who has been working with me on Happy Heart Kid at a community children’s class. We noticed that parents were interested in character building activities but struggled to find the time and gather resources to do this in a joyful manner.
Baha’i Blog: How did the project unfold? How do you go from an idea to a product that children can actually hold in their hands? What kind of timeline is involved?
Once we saw a need for a product on social and emotional learning, we tested the idea with our network of parents and started looking at what options were in the market. Given that we were bootstrapping, we tried to figure out the best way to create a product that would also add value to parents with our limited resources. That is why we decided to run a Kickstarter campaign. Kickstarter helped us raise money so parents could pre-order the kits and we could purchase and print our supplies in bulk. We tested our first prototype in April 2014 and seven months later after several product iterations, design changes and testing the idea with close to a hundred kids, we launched on Kickstarter on November 18th.
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a bit more about your successful Kickstarter campaign?
It was a great learning experience. They say you never know what to expect with a crowdfunding campaign but we were pleasantly surprised that half the backers were outside of our personal first and second degree networks. We didn’t have a marketing budget prior to the campaign so our outreach efforts were limited and we weren’t able to afford to pay social media influencers. In retrospect we could have planned a few things better and streamlined our efforts. If anyone is interested in crowd funding their project, I would suggest they plan and prepare months in advance.
Baha’i Blog: How have the kits been received so far? What are people saying about Happy Heart Kid? How did the testing of your materials go?
We are just hearing back from parents who we sent our first shipment too and they response has been overwhelmingly positive. The testing of the kits was very well received, but I think a true testament of whether the product is something people truly want or if it’s just ‘nice to have’ will be to see how the paid customer engages with us in the coming weeks. It is exciting but also nerve wrecking!
Baha’i Blog: How many kits will you be making in total?
We have produced and shipped over 150 kits so far and have materials for more as we receive orders on the website. We still have some outstanding Kickstarter orders and will also be shipping out classroom bundles to inner city students in DC and Texas next month. The classroom bundle was a special reward created just for Kickstarter and we were delighted that people were interested in donating our materials to schools in high poverty areas.
Baha’i Blog: What ages are the kits geared towards?
Our activity kits are developmentally appropriate for kids 4-8 year olds. While every child is unique, through our testing process we have found that 4 year olds may need more parent involvement. Older kids (7/8 year olds) will be able to go through the materials with more independence. However our kits are designed to have meaningful parent child interaction and dialogue around the character skills featured in each box. We add helpful hints and additional suggested activities that parents can do to deepen the dialogue with their children.
Baha’i Blog: How can people find out more and purchase your kits? Can they be purchased by anyone in the world?
The activity kits are available for purchase on the website. Unfortunately due to weight and cost of international shipping, it is not economical for customers to pay half the cost of the kit to ship. We are currently only shipping to the US.
Baha’i Blog: What advice do you have for others who might want to take up an entrepreneurial project for children that is meaningful? What have you been learning through this process?
For me, this venture has been an amazing spiritual journey. It has taught me a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses and moreover I have met some incredible people along the way and for that I am truly grateful. My only advice to anybody starting out it is to just do it; there is never a perfect time or enough resources and there are going to be many obstacles along the way. I found myself making so many excuses due to some personal challenges I faced last year. There is quote from Abdu’l-Baha that stresses the need for action to accompany our words. Action requires a higher level of sacrifice, and brings us out of our comfort zone. It is no easy feat to be a entrepreneur and I think His words will resonate with entrepreneurs.
Baha’i Blog: Do you have any other amazing projects up your sleeve?
We are hoping to create a few more kits on additional character traits in the upcoming months!
That’s wonderful! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Archana. I wish you all the best with your future work and the success of this endeavour!
In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a stay-at-home parent and a bookworm with a maxed out library card but professionally she is a museologist with a background in English Literature. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.