Dani and Katie are on a mission to spread kindness and compassion and to create kind, respectful, confident, emotive and empathetic children, who will contribute positively to the world. At The Mini Minds Project, they offer a beautiful selection of products and activities to spread positivity and encourage acts of kindness. Here they talk about the inspiration behind their business and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
We would be lying if we said this had been a long-time dream and years in the making. In fact, it’s more a story of matrescence, and how everything we have experienced in our lives and since becoming mums has led us to this point.
The Central Coast is an incredible place to bring up a family. However, jobs for mums are scarce and both of us (Katie and Dani) have struggled to find work which has sometimes been quite soul destroying. For Dani, owning her own business has always been the dream but she just never knew what she wanted the business to be. Being good role models for our girls is so important and we want them to learn to work hard and to be passionate about things that motivate them.
We have always aligned on raising kind kids; we spoke about it all the time. Our daughters are very similar in a lot of ways but they didn’t hit any milestones at the same time and we realised that to us, milestones were an unnecessary stress, an extra layer of anxiety put on mums that we could well do without. The truth was, we were both doing a pretty good job at raising our kids, but society isn’t built that way, to tell you you’re doing a good job, to tell you yes, it’s hard but you are doing brilliantly and just relax. It’s built to stress you out. Especially first-time mothers. From midwives to mums at playgroups, to phone apps, 24/7 you become so consumed with minute-by-minute schedules, sleep training, nappy brands, crying, “experts'” techniques and know-it-all family members telling you how you should be doing things.
After 1.5 years of what felt like a lot of self-doubt and stress, we both stopped and agreed “to heck with that; all we care about is raising kind, compassionate, respectful, empathetic kids who will contribute positively to this world”. Everything else really is irrelevant! Instead of stressing about issues that could happen, we will tackle them if/when they happen, but we won’t stress ourselves thinking about ‘what ifs’. And it’s this thinking that became the inspiration of our business and still holds true today. We want to remove the BS, we want to support and appreciate our mummas, to empower them that there is no right or wrong way, to listen only to themselves and what they feel is right and we want the next generation of children to be a lot kinder, not only to everyone around them, but their environment too and more importantly also to themselves.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Back in October 2019, we started discussing launching a business together. However, it actually started off as a toddler sensory play business. That was conversation #1 which disappeared very quickly when we started to chat seriously. We had so many ideas, we would just spend hours in coffee shops chatting about motherhood and how we wanted our kids to grow up and how we wanted them to learn. We quickly came to the agreement that uncovering kids’ passions early on and teaching them important values and life lessons was, what we believed, the key to happy, motivated, positive kids. Our working name started out as The Good Human Project (though that name was already taken in NZ) and everything we discussed centred around this idea of raising bloody good humans, which although very broad, kept us focused. We came up with the name over a cuppa at Katie’s house and we fell in love with it instantly. We did a lot of research, listened to a lot of podcasts and talks and came up with a really cool business model that would launch workshops and initiatives for kids and parents.
We stalled a bit over the Christmas period, our logo took a long time to come together and we started to get cold feet. We started to question our capabilities and it all became a bit scary, so we agreed we would give ourselves 3 months to get this thing off the ground before throwing the towel in, then Covid hit and suddenly workshops and initiatives wasn’t even something we could do. All of our plans revolved around face-to-face sessions.
We already had the ideas; we had seen a business advisor who had advised our idea and model was a viable business and suddenly we had to scrap it or adapt. We never set out to become a retail business at all. However, we had agreed from quite early on that The Mini Minds Project was just that, a project, and that meant that it’s an evolving concept that we could take in any direction that felt right to us with just 1 goal in mind always: “to raise bloody good humans”.
So we launched with just 6 products to start with to test the waters. We decided to proceed to launch a business at the start of a global pandemic, which felt crazy but we had been talking about this business for so long, we needed to hit the big GO button regardless. We agreed even if it fell flat, we did it, we achieved something we were really proud of and that was enough even if we sold nothing. We were lucky in that we launched on the 31st March and we had Easter in April so our first month was brilliant selling our Kindness Easter Hampers. May saw Mother’s Day and again that was a great month for us. We had such great feedback from not only our friends and family but others who didn’t even know us, new customers, not associated with us at all congratulating us on a great business concept and wanting to feature us on their insta pages etc. It was such a boost to know we were on the right track and were doing something others thought was great.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
The biggest breakthrough for us is when we realised we actually wouldn’t have changed the way we launched at all. Even though Covid scuppered our plans for workshop sessions and we had to adapt to a completely different business model, we now look back and realise it was 100% how we needed to launch and for that we are grateful. It’s given us the chance to do more research, to learn, to get feedback and when we are ready, we will launch phases 2 and 3. But only when we feel comfortable.