The power of creative women truly is unparalleled.
There are many women are out there building businesses and creating products that are making the world better in so many ways. (And I feel lucky to know so many of them!)
On today’s Talking Shop, I’m going to introduce you to a woman responsible for helping more kids have positive, fun, and engaging learning experiences. I know, HUGE, right?!
Alyson Peterson is a mom, entrepreneur, and the creator of The Winkle Crate, a STEM-based subscription box that helps provide easy access for at-home, DIY-style STEM based learning for kids. Complete with accompany video instructions and all necessary materials, The Winkle gives kids tangible, educational, and fun projects — and gives parents a smart, easy way to foster their children’s learning. It’s pretty amazing.
On today’s Talking Shop, Alyson chats with us about how failures help her business grow, what inspires The Winkle Crate activities, and why her job is so rewarding. (Plus, Alyson was kind enough to give readers a shipping code for Winkle products!)
Everyone, meet Alyson!
Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Alyson. I’m enjoying the last year of my 30s. I have a fine arts degree from Temple University and lived in Philadelphia for seven years. I’ve taught art to kids and adults for 15 years. Now my husband and I live in sunny Arizona where we raise our four kids, 3 girls and 1 boy, ages 5-13. If you have tacos and guacamole, I’m there.
What inspired you to start a business?
As with most entrepreneurs, I saw a need and I was filled with a desire to meet that need. In the beginning I got so excited about this, it was almost like having another child. I could hardly sleep at night.
What makes you passionate about The Winkle?
Exposing children to positive learning experiences is my jam! Raising four kids and being a teacher to hundreds of students over the years, I’ve seen that children learn in different ways. I have some children who thought they couldn’t learn because they struggle with reading. But by putting a project in their hand and a video in front of them, they suddenly soar! The Winkle sparks their interest and their creativity…And if they can learn about kinetic energy or the Bernoulli effect too, then that’s even better!
In what ways can The Winkle benefit families?
The Winkle provides easy access for at-home, DIY-style STEM based learning for kids. The instructional videos mean kids can work independently (without parents help) and they also don’t need to be able to read. As a mom, I would always see STEM ideas on the internet or wherever and thought “I just don’t have the energy or the time to round up all that stuff and then teach it to my kids!” The Winkle makes that process so easy for parents.
What does a normal day for you look like?
I’m a big fan of time blocking. I love exercise and try to start everyday with exercise before breakfast. I make a hot breakfast for my kids every day and we do lots of hugs and kisses and talking about our upcoming day. I work from 10-2 while the kids are in school (but we’ve had to be creative during COVID- help from my oldest daughter, my husband, or a nanny). Almost every afternoon, I let my kids invite friends over. We’ve been known to have 10 extra kids at our house at a time! After everyone is rounded up and friends go home, my husband and I make dinner together. After dinner, the kids clean up the kitchen and the house while I get some more work done. After the kids head to bed, my husband and I go on a walk or go swimming, depending on the weather, to catch up on the day.
How do you come up with The Winkle projects?
Coming up with the projects is the most fun part of The Winkle business. I have a small team that consists of myself, my 11-year-old son, and a retired Kindergarten teacher, Merrilee. There are so many creative juices flowing over here! Sometimes a project will start with me thinking something like “I want the kids to build a robot” and then we’ll search the internet for ideas, combine them and add some Winkle flare to it. Or sometimes I’ll be walking through a store and something catches my eye (like a funnel) and I’ll think “That looks fun! What can we do with a funnel?” Or we’ll think, “There’s a space launch coming up. How can we celebrate that? Let’s build a rocket!”
How do you involve your kids in your business?
Oh wow! My whole family is very involved in The Winkle. I develop four projects a month, and I have four children, so every month one of my kids is included in the instructional video- learning and doing the project with me. My son helps prototype Winkle projects. My oldest daughter helps package Winkle projects and label bags. Even my little five year old will sort out colored straws or pipe cleaner. During shipping week, it’s all hands on deck! My husband has box building races with my kids. We form an assembly line starting with tissue paper and products down to the crinkle cut and packing tape. Then we celebrate by going out for ice cream!
What has been the most rewarding part of running your business? The most challenging?
I love teaching locally, but I wanted to create a wider reach. When I get messages and pictures from people I don’t know, it gives me fuel to my flame. When I see them opening their boxes and doing their projects with huge smiles on their faces I think “I created that experience for them!”
I don’t have a business degree and I’ve never run my own business before, so every single thing is new for me. I’ve experienced a lot of struggle due to pure lack of knowledge and it has cost me a lot of time and money. But every time I fail, I learn from it and keep pressing forward. I study business entrepreneurs, study my competitors, and study my customers. It takes time, but I’m learning and growing every day and my business reflects that.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs, (particularly females)?
Be passionate about what you are doing. If you aren’t, it will be very hard to stick to it when things get hard. Find your “why,” write it down, and post it where you can see it every day.
Where do you hope your business will be in the next year?
I would love to make money in the next year (LOL). I’ve been in beta and start-up mode for about a year while I’ve been testing systems, getting to know my target audience, and figuring out pricing. It’s time to grow The Winkle into a profitable business.
The Fun Qs:
Your favorite out-of-office activity?
I love traveling and exploring new countries and cultures (especially the food!)
Your favorite treat?
I cannot resist any combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
Your last Netflix/Hulu binge?
I don’t normally binge, but when I do binge, it’s on Outlander.
The song that’s currently stuck in your head?
“You and Me Together” by Dave Matthews Band.
The funniest thing your kids have done/said lately?
My five year old was walking through the house and said “I’m sore. I think I need a massage!”
*DISCOUNT! Use code SHIPFORFREE for free shipping on any Winkle purchases.