This mom and daughter duo are encouraging more girls to study STEM
An interview with Girltivity founders Romona Mahadeo and daughter Kiara
Mom Romona Mahadeo wanted to empower young girls between the ages of 3 and 12 years old to be more interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Along side her young daughter Kiara they came up with a novel idea – A STEM subscription box aimed at young girls. The Girltivity boxes were born. I’ve reviewed one of these boxes here on the blog:
I was so incredibly impressed by the thought and effort that went in to the boxes that I wanted to chat a bit more to the Umhlanga based mother daughter duo to find out what inspired this great product and how they went about getting it off the ground. Romona very generously answered my questions and I thought I’d share those answers with you now, to hopefully inspire more young entrepreneurs with big uplifting ideas:
Where did the inspiration for the Girltivity box come from?
From the age of 2, the visionary at Girltivity, Kiara dreamed of having her own YouTube Channel. She was already very much aware of the power of positive thinking, positive speaking, kindness and sharing. She loved the excitement of making, giving and opening presents. She was inspired by videos she had seen of other children and she wanted to spread the same happiness to as many children as she could. Kiara has a passion for Girl Empowerment. The moment she realised that there has never been a South African female in space, it became her mission to let girls know that they can be anything they dream of, even an astronaut in space. This led to a 5-year old’s continuous questions about females in history.
As a mum of girls, I felt this unwavering need to empower girls to grow more fearlessly themselves. I came across statistics about women in stem and knowing that it may take 142 years for women to achieve gender equality spurred my decision to teach my kids about the amazing women that is not actively taught in schools.
We couldn’t find a brand to help our kids learn about females in history and STEM.
Very soon Kiara was making our own inspiration boxes.
The idea of The Girltivity Box, which is a unique monthly subscription is to remind girls about how amazing they are. The aim is to inspire girls between the ages of 3 and 12, by celebrating female role models who helped make the world better. Each Girltivity Box is thoughtfully designed by educational experts to encourage creativity, curiosity and support literacy development in the most fun ways.
How was Kiara involved in the design process?
When we decided to ‘play’ around with ‘Kiara’s Box Business’, Kiara did all the hard work. She designed the famous ‘3D’ Girltivity subscription box. The main character GT has always been very clear in Kiara’s mind. A superhero girl, fearless and brave. Capable of doing anything she sets her mind too. Kitty was chosen from a list of illustrations. Kitty reminded Kiara of one of her best friends who loves ginger cats. It made her sad that she could no longer play with her friend because he is a boy and she is a girl. Being exposed to gender discrimination at the tender age of 5, she is even more determined to break the gender barriers. She wants to share stories of fearless girls with future leaders. When our illustrator brought Kiara’s ideas to life, I could see the direction Kiara was leading us with the brand and I loved it.
Together as a family team we research females in history as well as fun ‘STEAMED UP’ activities, which is the best part. Kiara chooses the female role models we feature as well as the ‘STEAMED UP’ activities. She knows what kids want and they want to have fun. We give Kiara full creative licence from Friday to Saturday to work on Girltivity. Kiara has earned the title ‘Boss’ at the Girltivity Creative Studio for sure. As the founder I have learned to trust Kiara’s opinions and allow her to make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions as well.
The STEAMED UP box is inclusive of many different fields – how do you determine what to focus on each month and where do you source the activities included?
We do work with a team that comprises of kids and adults which focus on unpacking the ‘STEAMED UP’ (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, Entrepreneurship, Design, Understanding and Practice) concepts in bits and pieces that we build on from one box to the next to create an interest in these fields in a relaxed environment during playtime. Our brand is kid led which means our research is done from any and all sources at our disposal from the library, internet, experts in a specific field to even kids and what they think is fun education.
Who are you working with to ensure there is always something new available?
We work with a group of freelances and experts in our fields of interest from around the world. Behind the scenes we are busy working on an exciting project that allows us to feature the experts we are working with so keep an eye out for that. There are just so many amazing people that have helped the Girltivity brand come to life. Making a child’s dream come true one box at a time. We are a start-up which is kid led so you know there is always going to be something new and exciting. Honestly, can’t wait!
I had this oh so real moment when a group of mums at my daughters’ school approached me to congratulate me on our start-up and we were literally in tears and in awe of the impact that this brand can positively have on our children. I could just see the confident 20 something-year-olds that the little girls in our arms will one day become. Success for me is being part of a brand that changes lives. I want gender equality in my lifetime. I want my kids to be confident to pursue their wildest dreams in any STEM field. When everyone is treated equally and respect each other’s strengths and weaknesses, the possibilities are endless.
I usually send out a weekly mailer with a recap of blog posts but also some personal anecdotes. If you want to know about competitions or just catch up in a more personal setting then you might like to receive the mailer.