December 5 2017

Cheeky Days – Outside The Box

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m going to self describe as weird, you know I was the nerdy girl who at recess went to read Judy Blume instead of playing kickball. I’m a pretty serious person, I think it’s a combination or being born that way and just how I grew up. And yes, I’m serious but I still love to laugh. I have a funny bone and I can be sarcastic, plus I have a little cheeky ball of fire that keeps me giggling through most of the day. I worked in nonprofit for ten years, because I felt called to be there, to help and to serve. I’m pretty passionate, and whatever I do, I do with my whole heart and give it my all.  I have a true calling to community and starting Outside The Box by Cheeky Days is a part of that calling. I can be slightly awkward if you meet me in person, sometimes I just want to jump in on a conversation about the public school system or the plight of polar bears in the arctic and I’m so terrible at making small talk. My husband and I have been married for 10 years and he’s my partner in life and the business. To sum up, I’m a mom, a wife, a small business owner, and an introvert… not always in that order. I started my own business a little over a year ago. I think the combination of becoming a mother, my experience working in nonprofit, and the support of my husband led me to take the leap and start our business, something I never would have imagined doing.

What exactly is Cheeky Days?

Cheeky Days started as a blog. Really as a way for me to start writing again and share my journey as an introverted mother of a cheeky, extroverted little boy. The name comes from our son, who definitely makes our days cheeky. Cheeky Days is now our home base for our business, it’s still a blog, but also a resource for moms and families. We talk about and share stories of kindness, gratitude, grit, resilience, diversity, compassion, empathy, and connection. Our goal is to become a safe place and a resource for families. We want to empower parents and children to live a life outside the box, to look at the world and instead of just seeing it, seeing how they can add to it, impact it, and create the changes they want to see.

What inspired you to start Cheeky Days?

A couple of things, first my son did. He is where our name comes from, he is what inspired me to start writing again, he is what sparked my desire to share my passion for community, giving back, and talking about kindness and the messier parts of life. I would say I was also inspired when I left my job at the homeless shelter. I knew it was time for me to leave and to start a new chapter of my life, but I was inspired by my work there and knew I wanted to continue to make an impact in community and to share that passion with my son and with other children. It’s hard for us as adults to talk about things like homelessness, children with cancer, children in foster care with garbage bags as suitcases, families who can’t afford food, animals that are being hurt, killed needlessly, and losing their habitats, and environmental issues due to climate change and more. But these are the parts of life that we need to talk about even if they’re difficult or challenging and not only with each other, but with our kids too. We believe we are connected and we need to think of the collective we and how we are a part of it and can impact it with our daily actions, not in grand ways, just in daily ways, living out kindness and compassion. I wanted to share that and teach that and empower others, but how? That’s when we came up with the idea of a subscription box where families get everything they need to spark these conversations and live out these actions in practical, real ways, all while playing with their kids, connecting, and having fun.

What is the mission behind Cheeky Days?

Cheeky Days is our home base, and Outside The Box is our subscription box for families. Our mission behind Outside The Box is to empower children through play and creativity to give back and create change. Our goal is that every box will provide an opportunity to spark creativity, curiosity, and imagination while providing teachable moments on how we can live out connection and community. Our dream is to create a movement, to build community, to break down what divides us, to empower families and children to embrace diversity and difference, through an intentional life of kindness, connection, compassion and gratitude, because we know this is so necessary, especially in these times that we live in.

Every Box Supports a Non Profit & Empowers Kids Through Play to Give Back & Create Change, can you tell us about that?

For every box we partner with a non-profit and create a theme. Then everything that comes in the box is curated to the theme and includes family challenges and activities that empower the families to give back together in practical, real ways that make an impact for the non-profit we’re partnered with for that box. We want to empower and teach kids about giving back through play (not lectures), we want it to be fun and inspiring, so everything in the box is geared to spark conversations and be a useful tool for the parents to engage and teach their little ones, all while playing. For example our Art With Heart Box, came with a picture book about the power of art in a community, an art smock, canvas, paint, clay, a book of poetry written by children with cancer and a postcard. Our nonprofit partner for that box provides art programs and camps for children with cancer. So the kids receiving the box get to read about the power of art, get to read powerful art written by children affected by cancer, and they get to create their own art, plus create a postcard to send to one of the children affected by cancer to tell them how they enjoyed their poetry. Talking to your kids about other kids with cancer is pretty daunting, but when you are able to play, read, and create with them while doing it, it changes the dynamic and allows the conversations to flow so much easier, plus it gives little ones pride in knowing that what they are creating is helping others and making a difference. We are also a give back company so for every box purchased we donate a portion of the proceeds to the nonprofit partner for that box.

How did you come up with the name?

Cheeky Days comes from our son who makes our days cheeky. My husband and I can both be pretty serious people, but our son is a burst of fresh air, energy, passion and jokes. Outside The Box comes from our goal to model and live a life that isn’t the status quo. We want to break free from the traditional definitions of success and how a “successful life” is currently defined by our society. Plus we are sending families boxes, but we want them to know it’s not only about what’s in the box, but how we can take what’s in the box and live it outside (of the box, of our home, of our family, of our neighborhood, and beyond).

What makes your boxes different from the others out there?

We are different, because we’re not just another toy or craft box. We’re a mission to empower families and kids and to start a movement and build community. We’re a new way to talk to our kids about all those things we want them to know, but don’t always know how to start. For example – WHY kindness matters, WHY some people don’t have homes, WHY super powers aren’t about using guns and gadgets, but about understanding, compassion and perseverance. Our dream as a business, and as parents is to build a movement of parents that yes, are tired, that work hard, that have tons on their never ending to-do lists, but believe life isn’t about the stuff, it’s about our actions and how we show up in the world with, and for our children. A movement of children who know their actions make an impact and can create change. A movement of families who value, embrace, and live their lives boldly, and honestly rooted in kindness and compassion.

Is there a favorite product that everyone loves?

I would say the books are always a big hit with the kids and the parents. We included Pals Socks in one of our boxes and the kids just loved those. The art smocks and hand drawn Story Cards we’ve included in various boxes were other big hits. But each box is so different and we’ve heard great feedback about all the masks and tees and fun things included in the boxes.

How do you spread the word about your company?

We use social media; Instagram and Facebook primarily, but Pinterest is a place we’re starting to research as a business to spread the word to more moms and grandparents. We also spread the word through other bloggers and influencers who do reviews and box openings. Word of mouth and recommendations from current subscribers is another huge way to spread the word. It’s always important to find the people who truly love your business and what you’re doing and ask them questions to find what resonates with them and keeps them coming back. Going local is important too, we’re primarily an online business, but we do local pop-up shops and shows when we can to be in the community. Another way is through media; podcasts, interviews like this one, and we’ve been on a couple of TV segments.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

My advice would be, go for it. Whatever dream, goal, business you have don’t let doubt or fear stop you. You’re never going to have all the answers, and the journey is definitely difficult and challenging. You will fail, you will make mistakes, but do it anyway. If you believe in it, if it is your passion, if it is on your soul to create and put out into the world, do it. I know that can sound cheesy or even like sure easier said than done. And you’re right, it is totally easier said than done. I know because I’ve lived it and am still living it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. What starting a business has taught me is you never know until you take that leap and do it. There have been opportunities, moments of growth, and changes in my life I never would’ve imagined, because I took the risk and did the scary thing and started. It’s not easy, and I think knowing when you start that there will be really hard times, failures, and mess-ups is so important because in those moments you’re going to question yourself, why did I start this, I must be crazy, what was I thinking, and on and on. But that is a part of the journey, and if you believe in what you’re doing and creating the other part is, you keep going and doing and it is so worth it. There’s this amazing quote from Cheryl Strayed, “We don’t reach the mountaintop from the mountaintop. We start at the bottom and climb up. Blood is involved.” Go for your mountaintop, but remember blood is involved.

Do you have a favorite quote or go to saying?

Oh gosh, this is a hard one for me because I have so many. I gain such inspiration and wisdom from the written words of others. I’ll share two. The first is the quote on our website and the back of every Outside The Box, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” –Dr. Seuss  I love this quote because it’s a reminder not only of why we do what we do and why we started, but why we want to empower others to create change. And the second quote is one that I read when I was trying to decide should I leave my work in nonprofit, should I really try to start my own business, and I was just in a head space of constantly questioning myself and what I should do. I saw this quote and I felt like it was sent to me at the right moment, when I most needed it. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain

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