Former Art Historian and Productivity Consultant, Francesca Geens, created The HappySelf Journals - daily journals to promote happiness, develop positive habits and nurture enquiring minds.
With just a few minutes focus each day, children benefit by being encouraged to express gratitude, reflect on their emotions and think about their actions. We chatted to Francesca to hear more about her story, what motivates her and what she set out to achieve.
How did The HappySelf Journal come about? Why did you see a gap in the market?
It was the result of bringing together various interests of mine- as a mother I was concerned with all the press reports of rising anxiety levels and mental health problems in our children and young people; as a productivity consultant (that was my business at the time) I loved seeing the return to paper planners and organisers; as a former Art Historian I have always loved small beautiful objects (I have a PhD but that is a whole other story!) and well, I love quality stationery.
I became very interested in the science of happiness and positive psychology and realised there were so many simple habits that have been shown to have a meaningful impact on our happiness and wellbeing. I wanted to bring these together into a beautiful daily journal format designed for children. So you can see that what is now HappySelf is all of these things brought together!
What things do you do as a family to stay connected and share your thoughts?
We love to share our ‘top three things’ at dinner - sharing gratitude for those little moments in the day that brought us joy is always a highlight. We love to find ways to spend time together offline- whether it’s playing board games or going out for walks these offer lots of opportunities for great conversations.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as a brand so far?
Copyright and brand IP have been incredibly challenging on all sides. From not being able to trade as HappySelf in the US due to trademark restrictions (we sell there as HappyMe) to having to deal with copycats.
What inspires you and motivates you?
My children are my inspiration - I started work on the journal for them. Seeing the journal make a positive impact on so many children and their families is what motivates everyday. I am incredibly grateful to be able to do good with our product.
How important is it to you to build a community and connect with the people who follow you?
This is everything. I’m so grateful to be able to run a business that allows me to speak to a global audience of parents through social media and our newsletters. When we launched HappySelf we had zero audience and zero followers on social media. It started one like, comment and conversation at a time. Our community are our most important brand ambassadors and I love sharing our journey with them. Their feedback and photos of our journals being used in homes around the world is what keeps me going.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to set up their own company or start their own personal project?
Finding time for a passion project is incredibly rewarding. HappySelf started as a project and ended up being a business! Spend enough time validating your idea and focus on getting your MVP (minimum viable product) out into the world. Connect with like minded folk along the way- there is so much wonderful support and advice out there from those who are ahead of you on the journey.
At A LITTLE FIND you can find brands and products for all your home and beauty needs, with a particular focus on sustainability and being kind to our planet. What would be your top tip to help encourage others to live more sustainably and mindfully?
We can all make small changes through our buying choices like finding brands that offer refills or cutting plastic all together. I always like to look out for brands who choose to use recycled plastic for their containers.
What are you most excited to work on over the next few months (or in 2021)?
I’m currently working on the next edition of our journal which will be out in early summer.
What do you look for when finding the perfect gift?
I always try and support small brands when doing any gift shopping.
What is your LITTLE FIND? (Favourite product on A LITTLE FIND)
My teen loves Spots & Stripes Gentle Cleansing Lotion.
It’s always fun to end with a quickfire round...
- Favourite TV series right now? Bridgerton.
- Last thing you cooked? Homemade pizza.
- Favourite Instagram account to follow? @mutha.hood
- Best book recommendation? Mindset by Carol Dweck.
- Perfect way to spend your weekend? Walking in the woods near my house followed by a drink in our cosy local village pub (sadly not open at the moment because of lockdown!).
- Best restaurant you’ve eaten at? We had a special family meal at Locanda Cipriani on the island of Torcello in Venice to celebrate my father’s 75th birthday. Being all together in a beautiful garden setting sharing the most delicious food was a truly unforgettable experience.
- Country you’d love to visit? I’ve always wanted to go to Canada but right now warm tropical destinations are high on my wish list!