English expat Akeelah Kuraishi has an impressive resume: digital advertising and sales at companies such as Univision, Buzzfeed and even Myspace.
The Myspace job was back when the social media site "was still cool," she points while laughing over a glass of sparkling water at a Tampa coffee shop.
Kuraishi had just finished up a day at the Glazer Children’s Museum downtown — a new part of her job that’s nothing like the decade she spent climbing corporate ladders.
She’s the co-founder of Little Global Citizens, a monthly subscription box company she started with her husband, Tim Minnick, and runs out of her home near Anna Maria Island to teach children about other cultures.
The Tampa Bay Times sat down with Kuraishi, a mother two young boys, to chat about what it’s like running a budding business and a new partnership with the Glazer Children’s Museum. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
What spurred the creation of Little Global Citizens to begin with?
My husband and I took 13 months off of our corporate careers when we lived in Chicago. We rented our house out, quit our jobs and went backpacking around the world on a one-way ticket to Beijing.
What we came away after traveling was that people aren’t just kind and generous and hospitable everywhere we went, but it was really an overwhelming sense of, they’re all just like us. People have the same aspirations for themselves, their families and their children that we have.
With globalization (growing) as fast as it is, our kids are going to be growing up in a really tightly connected world. So I want to be very intentional about what I teach my children… So I thought, Why don’t I do this? I can do it for my children and I can do it for children all around the country.
Why is it important children become global citizens?
There’s quite a bit of research and talk lately from global leaders and CEOs about how empathy, emotional intelligence and global awareness are some of the most important things kids need to be learning. And it’s not something the majority of schools focus on.
The first thing the child sees when they open the box is a children’s guide to the country. It’s their welcome to the country and it’s written from the perspective of a child from that country. It’s designed and written to make kids see themselves and the similarities to a child in Kenya, a child in Peru, and to start to get an understanding of the differences.
Why is it different to live in Peru? Why is it different to live in Kenya?
What else is inside this box?
A beautiful book about or from that country, craft activities that are most important in the culture, cultural games, folk games, traditional games and a souvenir… then a dinner party theme night (instructions). It’s a full box jam-packed with activities.
Subscription boxes are a huge industry these days. Did that play into your decision to enter the market?
It was almost serendipitous. I was not a subscription box consumer myself. It just seemed like the most natural way to have this ongoing relationship with kids. Once we started ideating and fleshing out the concept is when I looked into the subscription box and really realized that it is the fastest growing industry in the United States right now.
It was a really natural way to teach kids about new countries rather than, "Oh, I see the subscription box industry is moving really fast and I just want to get into it."
So how do the boxes play into your new partnership with the Glazers Children’s Museum?
The Glazers (Museum) is one of 20 percent of children museums in the country that have a focus on global awareness and diversity.
So in their Global Cafe we are doing programming every Wednesday in the morning and afternoon that sync up with us and align with the box. So this month is Australia. We did story time this afternoon and unveiled the box and the kids got to dive in.
We did a taste of Australia and ate Vegemite sandwiches — some kids loved and some hated it.
Every Wednesday in September we will have crafts or stories about Australia and I’ll have the first Wednesday of month so the kids can take a box home and do a deeper dive.
You can get Little Global Citizen boxes on its website for $38.95 per month. There are also bi-monthly, three-month and annual options. There’s even "add-on" packs for $10 siblings to ensure each child gets access to his or her own set of crafts and souvenirs.
Kuraishi packs and ships the boxes herself from her home.
Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.