Startup News Magazine

Amrita Aswani’s Story of Summer Stories

Summer Stories is a company which was born out of the pandemic last year. The company conceptualises and designs educational activities and products that bring learning and play together for children. They believe that kids will be fully engaged with products that have creative designs. Amrita Aswani, an animation industry veteran, is the Founder of Summer Stories. A long-term practitioner of positive affirmations, Amrita recently released her first book called ‘A to Z Affirmation & Wellness book for kids’. We had a candid chat with Amrita:

How & when did you decide to start Summer Stories?

I started Summer Stories along with my husband, Kunaal. I previously worked in the kids’ animation industry for over ten years. I was working with the brands Chhota Bheem and Mighty Raju and then worked on shows for Sony. Kids’ content is something I am passionate about way before I thought of launching Summer Stories.

I love designing beautiful products, and I think the core of our company is definitely design. We work with international and Indian independent artists for the creation of all our designs. It goes through multiple stages of approval to bring to life beautifully created illustrations. We cater to children, so we teamed up with pre-school teachers and children psychologists for our product development.

We launched Summer Stories in Oct 2020. In March 2020, when the pandemic hit India, and we went into a complete lockdown, I had to leave my job. I was working as a creative producer with a start-up, producing short films. I was also pregnant at that time.  For someone who has been working their whole adult life, it wasn’t easy to accustom me to be home without a job.

As I was pregnant, the natural course of things led me to research a lot of children’s products. I always wanted to be this cool mom teaching concepts to my baby in a fun interactive way. And then it flashed to me – flashcards!!

I felt a dearth of flashcards that were beautifully and creatively designed to appeal to moms and babies.

As I was expecting, the first product we started working on was high-contrast flashcards meant for newborn babies. Newborn babies have blurred vision, and high-contrast cards help them focus and concentrate. We came up with two sets for newborns; first themed as forest friends with all animal characters, and the second – Letter to my child, which is all the objects and things you want to show your newborn baby. Both these sets come along with stories that you narrate to your kids while showing the cards. It’s an enjoyable, interactive session with your baby, and I truly enjoyed it most when my baby was born. Most moms who have bought the high contrast cards have enjoyed using them with their babies.

We have flashcards which are very different from what’s available in the market. One of our products – 21 Acts of Kindness, has 21 easy, fun tasks for kids to do. To mention a few – Feed a stray animal, Write a Thank you note, List 5 things you are grateful for, Donate your old clothes. This box aims to bring out the best in our children and show compassion to everyone around us.

Emotions and Feelings is another set that has been doing well with parents and children. Our children might be small, but their feelings are big. Their feelings keep oscillating from one moment to another. These cards help in terming what and how they are feeling.

We are now launching a few books and will be doing a lot of digital launches as well as we feel the world is moving digital.

What are the various offerings of your company?

We have launched 11 products so far, starting with the newborn cards. That’s the hot selling product for us. We see that parents are looking at different ways of interacting with their babies. Our flashcards, coupled with fun stories for babies, are a great way to have fun with your baby, sharing stories using them. You can use these cards for tummy time and put them on the wall and play point and show.

Using these cards from when Kabir (my baby) was born, I saw how he recognised so many objects and animals on the cards. It’s a super hit in our house.

Other than the newborn cards, we have four products in the toddler category (1 to 3 years) – Alphabet, Numbers and Fruits, Farm Animal and Shapes and Colors.

We have five products in the four-plus category – Emotions and Feelings, 21 Acts of kindness, Outer Space, Countries and Flags and Underwater Animals.

We have flash, which is very different from what’s available in the market. One of our products – 21 Acts of Kindness, has 21 easy, fun tasks for kids to do. To mention a few – Feed a stray animal, Write a Thank you note, List 5 things you are grateful for, Donate your old clothes. This box aims to bring out the best in our children and show compassion to everyone around us.

What is the USP of Summer Stories?

We are a company which was born because of the pandemic last year. Design is at the core of our company. We work with designers all over the world to bring life to our products.  We believe products that have beautiful and creative designs will fully engage kids. At Summer Stories, our development team includes pre-school educators, child psychologists and kids’ animation artists. We evaluate every product and build a design team best suited for that particular product.

Tell us something about your book.

A to Z Affirmation and Wellness book for kids is a book that includes positive words from A to Z, their meaning, along with an illustrated example. It is an “I AM”  book for kids to write their affirmations like – I AM BRAVE, I AM CONFIDENT. It includes a small box on every page to write their own experience down, for example- When do you feel brave? When do you feel confident? The characters illustrated in the book are super cute and attractive to appeal to the kids and their moms.

This book is more of a personal journal for every kid. Journaling is a great way to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. I am sure many parents out there want to teach their kids how to think positively and believe in their capabilities.

This book is more of a cross between doing a fun activity at home and learning positive self-talk. Of course, mothers and fathers play an essential role in teaching them why positive thinking and positive words are crucial in life.

This book makes for a great morning routine with the kids.

I believe how we begin our mornings sets the tone for the entire day.

We are only just beginning to discover the amazing outcomes of cultivating positive, helpful thinking patterns. Positive, encouraging self-talk leads to a more positive day, which leads to a more positive year which leads to a more positive life!

Words have an incredible ability to build people up—especially kiddos. Teach your child some of these feel-good phrases to boost their self-esteem.

Our words directed to our kids are so important.

“A child will think, ‘my mom thinks I’m kind, caring, smart, funny and lovable, so I must be!’”

As our children learn behaviours and wire their brains, affirmations effectively nurture well-being in childhood.

What are the challenges you face?

Affirmation is a fairly new concept. The first time you say your positive affirmations, you might find it absurd and even funny because we are not used to positive -self talk. As awareness and usage of affirmations are a challenge, I am working on workshops for parents and children to implement affirmations in their daily lives.

If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting, what would it be?

I believe everyone should listen to their inner voice, and it will show you a direction. In this busy world where there is so much noise, one needs to go into that quiet place which resides within themselves; to know themselves first and then ask, “what is the best product or service I can offer to the world?” Once you have the answer of what you want to start and do- GO ALL OUT. Leave no stone unturned, and always remember to enjoy the journey as that is more important than the end goal. Another piece of advice for anyone who is starting is to – Network, Network, Network. You never know when and where the opportunity arises, which can level up your brand and open up different paths for your business.

Take a lot of feedback from like-minded people ready to help and advise you on your product and service.