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AAPI Small Business Series: Metta Play

Welcome to the fifteenth installment of our ongoing series blog highlighting the extraordinary journey and contributions of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) small businesses! Each entry in this series celebrates the resilience, innovation, and diverse narratives woven into the fabric of AAPI-owned businesses across a variety of industries. In this edition, we introduce Metta Play! Bilingual Yoga and Affirmation Cards for Kids to Learn Yoga and Another Language.

Tell us about yourself & what your business does.

I’m Via, an American-born Indonesian, living in Australia. I am super independent when I’m left to my own devices. But when surrounded by my loved ones, I turn into this lazy puddle that won’t move a finger! I’ve worked in advertising most of my career – from strategy, creative, and ops. My passion is building and leading teams, which I currently do full-time. I’m a certified Yoga Teacher. For years, I delivered outreach programs for underserved and at-risk communities, which was the most rewarding job.

Most importantly, I’m a Mom to two magical (and 65% of the time sweet) toddlers. They are the light of my life and the ‘why’ of my small business, Metta Play. Metta Play helps empower tiny humans to become more aware, compassionate, and fierce. We sell bilingual yoga and affirmation cards for kids. I created this brand for my kids to learn important skills in their heritage language. Growing up, I never had access to these materials, and most learning resources didn’t look or sound like me. So, I wanted to make sure my kids don’t have the same experience. An educator in the community said “It makes a difference for our kids to know our heritage languages can be used for praise and love and not just for punishment” and that just really stuck with me!

 

How long have you been in business and how did it all begin?

I launched in May 2020, before our first daughter arrived and in the middle of COVID. I was naive and optimistic that I would have all the free time and I’d be so bored! On top of having a newborn in the middle of the worst lockdown, I suffered from post-natal depression. So, the business took a backseat. We welcomed our second not too long after. Now, almost 3 years later, I feel like I’m just launching it properly! For me, the business is a long-term goal. With that, comes the acceptance that it will have to flow with our seasons of life. I’m one to have a million ideas and have tried making different things. This time, I knew it was something serious and it had to be for kids. But I wanted to find something that was low-risk (and low-effort). After doing a lot of research, flashcards seemed to be the best option. So away I went. Got my illustrator friend and we started making my imagination into reality. Tested it on families, teachers, and kids. Kept reiterating. Built the website, got my finances in order (well, kind of), and ordered inventory. And it was born!

What are some challenges you have faced in running this company, as well as an Asian-owned small business?

Where do I begin? Haha The biggest two would be resources (time and money) and the niche I put myself in – Resources: you just never have enough time or money, right? Being a small business, an unknown brand with an unfamiliar product, there needs to be a lot of brand awareness activities surrounding it. And I just can’t fully dedicate all my resources to it. So it’s been a very slow, slow, slow-moving piece. – The niche: it’s hard because I am not for the ‘majority’. I’m not for the minimal aesthetic, nor am I for the sparkles. Don’t get me wrong, they all have their place in this world, I’m glad they are here. They’re just not who I’m speaking to or representing. So it does make it harder for me because I am selective with who I work with, what it looks and feels like, and what message am I sending. Same as with my suppliers. I carefully select them and try to go with local small businesses. I often think, gosh if I just let all these requirements go, I’d make it so much easier for myself. But then, I ask myself, what for?

What are your thoughts on the changing landscape in the industry?

This a complex one to answer because in order for it to really change, everything and everyone needs to be involved. And that’s hard. I think we’re making headway and it’s better than before. And we also have a long way to go. Fundamentally, there needs to be more support and exposure. From how caregivers are equipped, and what they teach in the classrooms to financial support. For communities to access better schools and teachers. Teachers to be paid resourced properly. Families to have job security. Government and businesses to be accountable for their actions. There needs to be more of us, in every sense of the word. There already is way more of us than not, but we exist in our own strong communities. And those who support us, need to be out there more. It’s not just our job to make a difference. Let’s be honest, it’s so tiring to be doing both – carrying the load and making the change. This doesn’t get highlighted often enough and this needs to change too.

What are your favorite things about your company?

It can live beyond me and hopefully make the world a better place than when I first came in.

What are your hopes and dreams at your company?

For every child and caregiver to have the understanding and tools to look after their hearts, souls, minds, and bodies.

How can we best follow and support you?

Like, share, comment, save, and follow me on Facebook mettaplay and Instagram @mettaplay

I share a lot of educational goodies here! Further support by thinking of Metta Play for a gift, bring us into your home or classroom at mettaplay.com

 

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