Me and Adam had the pleasure of meeting the beautiful Jumana & her daughter Ayla today. Jumana is such a sweet, beautiful, kind hearted and such a great host. Being at her home made me feel at home. She is so easy going and just such a lovely person. She exudes happiness!! I left her house extremely happy with a big smile on my face.
Jumana & her sister in law Linda are the founders of The Happy Box. The Happy Box offers monthly themed and educational activity boxes filled with fun surprises for children and adults alike.
From Sauce to Harvey Nichols, the Happy Box is now the go to for all mama’s.
Being a Mompreneur isn’t easy. It’s about finding the right balance between being a mom and entrepreneur. How do you create the perfect balance? How do you make sure you’re not dedicating too much time on one and not the other?
I really don’t think there’s such a thing as the ‘perfect balance’. In fact, I think I’m constantly trying to achieve some kind of balance, every single day and with everything I do. It’s a constant struggle but it’s expected. I wear many hats, so I have to learn to juggle them. I think I’ve managed to get as close to perfect as possible, through the wonderful network of help I have in the form of family, friends and the growth of team behind The Happy Box, plus my daughter’s interest in all that we do makes it easy to involve her and use The Happy Box as a teaching opportunity at every turn.
Tell us something people don’t know about Jumana?
This is a difficult one, because I honestly have so secrets. I’m sometimes too open and too honest! But I do have one guilty pleasure that I don’t disclose to most people: I like to eat Twinkies in bed whilst watching a movie, and I hate to share them. Twinkies are mine, all mine. And perhaps another thing I should share, that I would hope most people know but if they don’t, I’d love them to: my family is my number one priority, and quality time with them means everything to me. Everything I do, it’s with my family and my daughter in mind.
What are the 5 most important things to you?
1- My husband Suhail and my four year old daughter Ayla.
2- My family and loved ones, who are all over the world.
3- My personal development and career ambitions and the continued success of my ‘other baby’, The Happy Box.
4- Travelling and seeing the world and experiencing other cultures; travel is a huge priority for our family and for the way I choose to raise my daughter.
5- Good food, decadent chocolate and priceless memories!
How did the name “Happy Box” come about?
When we dreamt up The Happy Box on a cold day in New York, the first day of the year actually in 2014, my sister-in-law Linda and I wanted to inject happiness into the lives of families who were disillusioned with how they were spending time with their children, and we wanted the result to be something that is both educational and fun. There’s nothing more fulfilling than embarking on a mission to spread happiness so it was easy for us to come up with something simple yet at the same time perfect: The Happy Box!
What was your main inspiration?
Well, on that fateful day in New York, it wasn’t just Linda and I who were having brunch. We were with our husbands – my husband Suhail and Linda’s husband, my brother. We were talking about what happiness means to each of us, and what we felt was missing from our lives despite how blessed and grateful we were for everything we have. My feelings that I was missing out on my daughter’s early years, and not spending the quality time I craved with her and with loved ones, was the starting point of dreaming up The Happy Box. I took my own dreams and desires as well as my love for my daughter as inspiration.
With such a busy schedule, how do you manage to always look so beautiful and stay in shape?
Thank you so much (blush) ! I truly believe that caring for myself helps me be a happier and more fulfilled person. I simply can’t resist good food and dessert is my ultimate weakness – extra sprinkles every time! So because of that, I try to remain active. When we travel, which is often, I discover the cities we visit by walking tens of kilometres every day. At home in Dubai, I love running on the beach and I try and fit in yoga two times a week. Oh and let’s not forget the number of times I have to run up and down the stairs after my little one, that in itself is a major workout! Having always been so busy with a demanding career and now the demands of my own company as well as being a mom, I have managed to perfect the ‘get ready in no time’ superpower; I make sure my hair is always done and I can put on my make up blindfolded. Then, once a week, I make sure to escape for a little ‘me’ time and get a manicure, which always makes me feel put together.
Any quick tips for getting ready on the go?
First, start with something that will give you confidence! Whether it’s a comfortable pair of jeans and a trusty pair of flats to help you run through your errands, or a power suit and killer pair of heels to give you presence, your clothes have to inspire both comfort in the way you hold yourself and consequently, confidence. I try to always make sure my hair is done ahead of time, because then no matter how little time I have to get ready, I still feel pulled together. And if no time exists, then a quick swipe of lipstick or lipgloss and a bit of mascara should do the job!
How do you maintain work life and time with your daughter? Do you set hours per week dedicated to Happy Box?
What’s great about The Happy Box is that is can completely involve my daughter, so it has become “our” thing. She tests our activities and products and attends events with me ; I’ve chosen to involve her in the company completely. For my responsibilities that require my full attention and can’t be done with Ayla underfoot, I try to schedule them when she’s in school or at night when she’s asleep. It’s a constant struggle to find the balance, but it’s worth it because I can be so fully involved in her life while at the same time growing this business that I care so much about. As for setting hours per week that are dedicated to The Happy Box – I still don’t have that luxury! The Happy Box demands all of me, all of the time, day and night, and I wouldn’t have it any other way right now. This is what a start-up requires, and I went into this fully aware of that. Even when I’m on vacation, I make sure to check my email and deal with any pressing matters.
What are the main challenges you come across as a Mompreneur?
The hardest challenge would have to be the shift for me from working for a non-profit to working for myself and for a profit, closely followed by the difficulty of having a business partner who lives in another country. Still, thanks to the wonders of technology, we manage!
How do you go about fixing that?
Trial and error, it’s all a learning curve. My partner Linda and I are pros at Skype, which is how we conduct our daily meetings, and sometimes multiple times a day, plus we are constantly messaging and whatsapping – technology is the name of the game! And I have a select few who I can go to for advice when it comes to thinking as an entrepreneur and what a start-up requires, since I still think as a philanthropist most of the time!
What’s the best advice you received?
I’ve been told that relationships are key, and I think that’s a valuable piece of advice. Through the relationships we have made as The Happy Box, we have been able to grow in ways we never imagined and have been presented with so many options and opportunities that would not have come our way if we had not spent time creating and solidifying relationships. We are so grateful to our network of local and global partners such as Aramex, Harvey Nichols, Sauce, The Baby Boutique, Ripe Market and many others who believed in us and helped further our mandate. We are incredibly indebted to them for their support. In relation to that, stay humble; it goes a long way and you never know who you’ll meet on your journey. Stay true to your mandate and continue to innovate yourself while you keep going back to your product – the opportunities are endless once you put your mind to it. All were such valuable pieces of advice!
What’s your advice to mothers who want to start their own business?
NEVER give up, and if a good idea strikes, RUN WITH IT! Make dreams realities – it’s possible and always dream BIG! And there’s no question about it: hard work yields results, and most of all, if you are passionate about what you’re doing, then you’re going to succeed. You have to accept, however, that it’s exhausting and involves long, endless hours and every fibre of your being, and you’re going to have to live and breathe your business. So make sure you have a good support network! Also, everything is so fast-paced in business! The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that you always need to be 10 steps ahead of the game – always. Plus you never “leave the office” and forget about work until the next day – those days are over!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I gravitate towards the sun and the sea and the breeze that’s part of being on the beach. Once I’m in that environment, I quickly start recuperating! I also like to take a night off to have a family movie night with popcorn, or to bake with Ayla in the kitchen – something that we can cover with sprinkles. Then, there’s my weekly manicure session, which I’ve started taking Ayla to because she absolutely insists. And a good chat session with a close friend does wonders for the soul!
And finally, take me through a day in Jumana’s life.
I try to wake up early to get a headstart on the day and down some coffee in peace before Ayla’s demands set in, but that’s becoming harder and harder to do considering how late I go to bed these days, thanks to work! Still, I usually wake up early and get Ayla ready for school – I value our time in the mornings together. I drop her off at school then it’s work, work, work – everything from attending meetings to answering emails to going through orders for The Happy Box to working on social media to attending events where The Happy Box is featured – all of it! Then I pick up Ayla from school and get her fed, and in the afternoon, we package Happy Box orders together. I like to save that part of the job for the afternoon because Ayla loves to take part and help me, she takes her job very seriously as a Happy Box employee! Then, it’s time to cook dinner and spend time together as a family and my husband and I get Ayla ready for bed. In the evenings, when I can, it’s my time to socialise with friends or catch up on a show, but more often than not, it’s more work to do! The work doesn’t ever really end, so sometimes I have to forcefully choose to take a night off. In the evenings, I also catch up with co-founder Linda, my sister-in-law, who manages The Happy Box out of New York. Because of the time difference, the evenings is our best time to Skype and brainstorm, so I’m always up late. Ever since I started The Happy Box, I barely sleep!
Right now, however, we have a more relaxed schedule thanks to school being out for the summer. Ayla and I have taken to waking up a little later than usual, and we have been traveling extensively with family and friends. Summers are always special and the best time ever to make memories with loved ones xx
Below are some pictures I took and others from Happy Box.
You can follow The Happy Box on their instagram account @thehappyboxofficial and their website http://www.thehappybox.ae