In our latest interview we caught up with Tanja and Kathrin, founders of TK Tribe, producers of the magical world of children’s friendship books. Originally from Germany, Tanja and Kathrin were inspired to bring to Australian children a refreshed take on a German tradition – the friendship book. A non-digital approach to capturing memories and a unique keepsake, children share their friendship book with their friends and teachers and capture fun facts about themselves, their interests, personal stories and dreams.
Tanja and Kathrin share more about how these friendship books work, benefits to children who use one and their tips for anyone thinking about setting up their own business.
Tell us a bit about TK Tribe.
While TK stands for Tanja and Kathrin, the two German mama-founders of this boutique business, the vision behind the brand stands for much more than these two names. At TK Tribe we thrive to create books that encourage children to connect outside the digital world, foster social interaction and build strong relationships with peers and adults. Our books are the next step to a baby book, capturing memories of childhood friendships in an interactive way. The books are designed to help children develop their self-identity, learn social skills and form positive relationships by learning fun facts about their friends. They foster creativity, and self-expression through a series of guided questions while capturing a unique moment in time.
What inspired you to set up your business?
Friendship books have been an integral part of childhood in Germany for many generations, going back hundreds of years. As children, we had so much fun filling them in, sharing them with our friends, and having a good laugh as we read the answers or looked at the drawings and photographs. Thirty years later, we still treasure our books to take us back to a time of carefree days filled with friendships, play and laughter. Our books capture who we and our friends were, and who we dreamed we would become.
Watching our children form their first precious friendships inspired us to continue this tradition for our children and bring this joy to kids in Australia by introducing the very first “My Friendship Book” series.
Tell us how these beautiful friendship books work?
Children share their friendship book with their friends and teachers and ask each person to fill in a page, draw their picture, include a photo and add their birthday. Soon the book is filled with interesting facts, fun drawings, photos and happy memories, making it a truly unique keepsake that will bring lifelong joy.
The friendship book assists children to build strong bonds with their friends. What other benefits does the book provide children?
Our friendship books are great conversation starters for children but also with their parents and teachers. Questions like: I’m grateful for …, I am really good at …, and when I grow up I want to … take a first step into positive psychology topics which support the process of finding your self-identity. Furthermore, the books encourage creativity with handwritten notes and drawings in a fun way, help children to develop a love for books and to connect with their peers and teachers outside of the digital world. Creative and interactive activities like this are great for children’s cerebral and social development.
What’s been your biggest highlight / achievement for your business?
The greatest joy and reward is when we receive positive feedback and huge smiles from our little and big customers. There is something about seeing children being happy that just cannot be trumped by anything else. Seeing that they enjoy our product right now and us knowing that the book will continue to bring them joy for many years from now is an amazing feeling.
Apart from this, our biggest achievement has probably been that after just one year in business we have had such positive feedback and we had customer requests for a more gender-neutral version. We have just launched our second edition in time for this year’s Christmas period. In addition, we have commenced selling our books in gorgeous boutique and gift shops in Melbourne.
What tips would you give someone who is thinking of setting up a business?
Passion and Persistence – You need to be passionate about your dream and believe in it. Even when things are getting tough, these combined with persistence are the superpowers that will keep you going and make you push forward.
Courage – It takes courage to leap into entrepreneurship and it takes even more courage to not be afraid of making mistakes but to consider them invaluable lessons learned. They are a necessity which will influence your next steps, let you rethink your decision-making process and help to challenge your thinking.
What’s next for TK Tribe?
While we are fully immersed in the Christmas period right now, we are super excited about 2020. We will continue to grow our brand and products through our online channels on Facebook and Instagram as well as through the wholesale market. We also have some amazing ideas and will work on further expanding our product range and partnerships. It’s going to be a big year and we are looking forward to everyone who’ll join us on our TK journey.
Short bio of Tanja and Kathrin:
Tanja and Kathrin are two working mums with children in kindergarten and primary schools. Both originally from Germany, met at a German playgroup and TK Tribe was created after their own fond memories of popular “friendship books” they had as kids growing up in Germany. Shared values in relation to parenthood, upbringing and keeping traditions alive in the digital age blended with their strong work ethos and business background of combined 25+ years international experience in management consulting form the foundation of their friendship and business partnership. When they are not working or being mums they enjoy hitting the tennis court and exploring Melbourne’s rich outdoor and cultural offerings.