Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Via Tendon. I started Metta Play – bilingual yoga and affirmation cards. The cards help kids learn yoga, mindfulness, and another language through play. Following a year of planning and testing, Metta Play launched in May 2019, in the middle of Melbourne’s first lockdown, and just a few months before the birth of my first daughter, Maya.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Much of the inspiration fuelling Metta Play stems from my personal life experiences. I’m Indonesian and grew up in the United States. I went from having minimal awareness of mental health, to becoming a yoga teacher, guiding underserved and at-risk communities. And now, I’m a Mom, with an unwavering desire to create a better world for future generations.
Growing up, I don’t remember seeing myself represented in the materials I played with. And even now, as a working woman of colour in Australia, I often find myself noticing I’m the only person of colour or woman in the room (or Zoom!) I desperately want this to change – for my kids and yours. Which is exactly why I created Metta Play, a product that combines the power of language, mindfulness, and play.
Describe the process of launching the business.
It all started with a dream! Then lots of late nights and long weekends researching, finding suppliers, working with our talented illustrator, and testing the product. An army of tiny humans and their guardians tested the product at every stage. This helped me refine the product to where it’s at now. It took almost a year to finally launch it into the world. And of course, I ‘planned’ it at best time, as our daughter joined us Earthside in the middle of a global pandemic.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
1. Being present in relevant places like markets, partnering with parenting apps, collaborating with play moms on social
2. Useful, relevant and regular content
3. And honestly, you cannot beat the power of word of mouth!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today looks like a lot of PR work, getting the word out there, while being a parent in a pandemic and working a full-time corporate job.
The ultimate goal for the future is to be in more classrooms and playrooms around the nation and beyond. And this can only be achieved by increasing awareness of Metta Play’s brand and products.
For the medium to long term:
– add more languages
– sell in different countries
– partner with more stockists
– create special editions
– add more products to the range
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Yes, partnering with the right PR expert is powerful and to have a plan in place to ensure there is business continuity during life’s big moments (i.e. newborn, moving houses, etc)
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
– Social media (Facebook, Instagram)
– Social media scheduler (Later.com)
– Email (Zoho mail)
– Commerce site (Squarespace)
– Google suite (spreadsheet, docs and drive)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, WorkLife podcast by Adam Grant, Originals by Adam Grant, The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Keep going and you are not alone
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