At The Positive Planner we know all about the power of creativity in children. We spoke to the founder of our wonderful Stib Positive Colouring Pencils, Emily Sayer, about the story behind the brand and what creativity and self-care mean to her.
1: How would you describe Stib in a few sentences?
Stib’s mission is to design creative products and resources which inspire the development of children’s internal wellbeing, through connection, confidence and creativity. Our worded colouring pencil activity packs are designed to spark strategies and ideas for children to develop a positive internal self-identity, which we believe is one of the most important things they will need to thrive throughout their lives.
2: What prompted you to start Stib and why did you decide to make colouring pencils?
Raising children myself, I was struck by the way they see the world and how these perspectives would benefit adulthood. Kids starting school now will retire in 2070 and with huge changes in technology and AI, most of their jobs haven't even been invented yet.
The mental health crisis is vast and the statistics speak for themselves: 75% of mental illnesses start before the age of 18, 10% of 5-16 year olds have a mental health condition and teenage suicide rates are rising. But we are talking less. A recent UK poll found that despite spending around 8 hours a day together, families chat for less than 10 % of that.
Most adults want children with a strong sense of wellbeing and to share what’s on their minds. The more we can raise children to talk about their worries and ideas, to be able to lead, to make positive changes for the greater good, to nurture transferable skills and think outside ‘tick boxes’, to find and channel their passion, spot opportunities and think laterally, the more we will be helping them to thrive and contribute to a future that’s changing apace.
From a brand point of view, colouring is an ideal time to have conversations. Colouring and doodling induce a very relaxed state of being and while you sit mindlessly (and mindfully) colouring, you create a wonderful space where chats and connection can happen. This is one real power of creativity in children. At Stib we love the quote by C.M Wallace: If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them it has always been big stuff. Yet it’s not always easy to get those conversations going. The positive Spark Words on our pencils are intended to be prompts to start conversations and see where they lead.
3: We love the Spark Words each pencil has. What’s behind the words and how did you choose them?
Each pencil is embossed with a different inspirational word or phrase. We've built Stib around 12 Spark Words that are intended to be reminders and prompts for practical ideas, suggestions and inspiration for creative ways adults can work with children to grow internal wellbeing. The words and phrases we chose are: Great Leader, Good Listener, World Changer, Earth Lover, Self Believer, Big Thinker, Freestyler, Team Player, Storyteller ,Problem Solver, Joy Finder and Peacekeeper.
We want these Spark Words to plant small seeds that will equip children to make the voices in their heads kind ones. We also want to remind them that they don’t need to wait to be a grown-up to make changes in the world. Children are never too little to lead and make a positive difference in their world.
We selected words that we felt would be helpful beyond childhood. The more we can feel deeply OK in our own skin and head, the more we are able to navigate the world. We can’t control the huge global forces at play, but we can help shore up young minds by focusing on developing resilience, confidence and a deep ability for them to value their own individuality.
Our primary mission as parents and carers should be not to worry quite so much about grades, badges, and certificates, but rather to pay attention to the stories our little ones are telling themselves about who they are and how they feel about themselves. Helping children build internal mental resilience, strength, flexibility and assurance is one of the main missions we have as the adults shaping their lives. To be able to set children afloat with mental boats that don’t leak and have enough life rings on-board to weather the storms.
We know our Spark Words alone won’t do this. But our intention is that having them there helps children both spark conversation with the people around them that will work towards building a positive mindset or spark their own ideas on how to face situations when they could do with a boost.
4: How do you hope Stib pencils will help children?
All children face varying degrees of challenges as they travel through life. Our youngest minds today are more aware than ever of the huge global issues facing the planet: climate change, pollution, pandemics, racial and gender inequality and political unrest all mix into the soup of digital exposure to the external world.
With Artificial Intelligence already dramatically changing every aspect of how we live and work, it has been estimated that most children will end up working in jobs which haven’t even been invented yet. Added to this, when they hit adolescence, they will find themselves in an unprecedented technological age where an addiction to gadgets and social media has created unrelenting pressure to promote the appearance of happiness. Every exclusion, slight or disagreement is played out on a 24-hour digital stage, inviting comparison, feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, without respite. This shift in the need to communicate external markers of success for the benefit of the digital masses throughout every moment of their lives, is changing adolescence forever.
So, what can we do? We can try to build higher walls. We can try to fight the waves of social media and artificial intelligence and the limitations of an educational system, shielding our little ones from starting a lifelong addiction to the clutches of technology, mute worrying news, prevent awareness of pressing and worrying global crises and lock the doors to the big, bad wolves that wait in the shadows.
But at some point, the waves of the wider world are going to find a way to seep into their lives. We need to not only equip them to be ready, but to have developed enough resources in their emotional toolkits to not just spend their lives bobbing on the surface, barely afloat, but rather, to embrace this wonderful new world and all the opportunity it offers. To be a Self Believer and ride the waves, have adventures and fun on the high seas and make their mark for good, leaving an even more exciting and thriving world behind them for generations to come.
5: As a small-business owner and Mum, how important is self-care to you and what's your go-to self-care tool?
I have at times found the isolation of working from home difficult. I'm a huge believer in collaboration. So many of us have been impacted by the pandemic and the more we can support and champion each other, the more small businesses will survive. Working with The Positive Planners and the rest of the Positive Doodle Diary Team has been a huge lift in helping share the mental load of the new product development.
I have also gone back to working for a couple of days a week at Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of the Virgin group which is doing mind blowingly huge philanthropic work around the world. I worked there as a co-founder from 2003 and have been with the team on and off since. Being connected to such a large organisation running such incredible world changing initiatives has had a really positive impact on Stib. It's reminded me of what’s possible and why it’s so important to work towards creating a better world for all our young people and engage them in becoming change-makers no matter their age.
For the last year, I have also started to really limit how much news I watch. I stay informed daily, but find that listening to business and mindset focused podcasts has had an incredibly positive impact and I would say that podcasts have now become my number one self-care tool.
6: What’s next with Stib?
We have been busy behind the scenes working on our new products, which the endlessly creative Positive Doodle Diary team have been instrumental in. Our new packs are designed around being creative toolkits, which bring the Spark Words to life in a creative and fun way. We are also about to launch a range of worded T-shirts in collaboration with the brilliant team at Lala and Bea and we’re working on our new website, which will be packed with many more ways for young people and their families to Feel Good and Do Good.
If this blog post has inspired you to get doodling and creative with your children, why not try our Parent Pack together with a pack of Stib Positive Pencils? The Parent Pack contains The Positive Doodle Diary for your child and The Positive Planner for you. The perfect way to model a journaling habit together and spark those conversations! We also have free Mini Editions of both The Positive Doodle Diary and The Positive Planner in our exclusive online Resource Library. You can access and download them here.