Hey Jamie! The Kind Friend started on Instagram as a place to spread positivity and kindness. Can you tell us about the early days of your business, and how your first product came to life?
The Kind Friend was started on Instagram (@thekindfriend) by my husband, Deeps De Silva in January 2019 with a mission to uplift others through kindness.
The Kind Friend quotes were being shared far and wide and our community started growing really fast. We received messages of support thanking us for the positive posts. We had students writing to us letting us know how alone they felt in this connected world, we had professionals sharing stories about how they feel stressed and overwhelmed at work and we had artists sharing their battles with anxiety and depression with us.
We saw this as an opportunity to build something for our growing community. We polled our Instagram community on tools they use for well-being and journaling came up on top.
We then launched The Kind Friend journal in November 2019 and sold out in 21 days.
Our customer base has grown from Singapore to over 56 countries worldwide. We’ve also worked with over 40 organisations globally including Salesforce, AWS, Hubspot, Business Chicks, Spotify, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, Accenture, Unilever and Twitch. We are also conducting wellness workshops to help people get started with journaling as well as covering key well-being topics.
We love your beautiful journals and gifted them to our Business Club members. What do you think sets them apart from other journals on the market?
We treated our Instagram followers as our stakeholders and we spent two months polling them about what they would like to see in the journal. We took these insights to craft our product. One of the biggest insights was the need for guided templates within the journal.
A lot of love went into crafting our journal, it’s a really special tool that can be used by anyone. We have kids, mums and dads, students, CEOs, startup founders and artists using our journal. The beauty of journaling is that anyone can do it and we want The Kind Friend journal to be accessible for all.
The journal has 160 pages and includes 26 weekly templates that help set goals, track habits and mood, and prompt you to reflect on your week. In today’s environment, it is more important than ever to be grateful for what you have. This new normal we are living in needs everyone to adapt and build mental resilience, our journal can help with this. Journaling can be transformative when used daily and consistently.
Our journal also has a bunch of our most positive quotes from our Instagram as well as empty dotted pages that can be used for writing, drawing and doodling.
Wellbeing is at the heart of The Kind Friend. Have you always had a passion for this area?
I have been journaling since I was 12. It was at a time where I felt completely lost in both my inner and outer world, writing was my escape. I wrote while being confused about my identity, coping with my parents’ divorce, and combating the loneliness of not being able to make friends in a foreign country.
Over the past years, my journals provided me with so much information about myself. Without it, I would not have started my businesses, I would not understand the value of authenticity, nor would I know how to lead. My journal took me everywhere and provided me with opportunities that I never thought I’d have. Now I want to take The Kind Friend journal everywhere so that others can benefit from it too.
You donate a percentage of your sales to important causes in your community. What causes are close to your heart?
Last year we donated a percentage of our sales to Samaritans of Singapore (SOS). It was never our goal to just create a journal, but to use it as a catalyst to start conversations on the importance of taking care of our minds.
What’s been your best investment to date?
The Kind Friend journal was the by-product of our community’s idea. We invested time to listen – really listen – to our community and to understand their views.
What have been some of your biggest learnings in business to date?
Focus and knowing what to ignore. When you are running your own business, your brain is always on and it’s wired for productivity. I constantly want to take advantage of each moment and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to do so, especially during times when things were outside of my control. I had to learn that sometimes it is okay to stay in your comfort zone and recuperate. Just because you didn’t get to tick off all of your to-do list for that day does not mean that you are not doing a great job.
We love your Instagram and journals for the inspiring and uplifting quotes you share. What are some of your faves that you live by?
- “We will never find happiness if we compare ourselves to others.” I am now 32 years old and define success as inner peace. When you are a peaceful person, anything you do will be a happy activity. But when you are comparing yourself with others, you would just end up miserably.
- “Treat each day as an opportunity to leave a positive impact on others around you.” I didn’t get to where I am today through schoolwork or classes. My most important learnings in life have come from my mum. My parents got divorced when I was 12 years old. My mum was heartbroken, depressed and devastated, yet she was fearless in raising two children on her own in a foreign country. She soldiered on with such dignity that no matter how tough things got, she still managed to forgive and rise above the mess with a smile. She has never stopped inspiring me with her positive view towards life and her compassion for those who have less than we do. She always says, “to give and to share is a blessing in itself and the most effective way of giving is to share your passions with the world – because when you are good at something, you inspire others by your excellence.”
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career like yours?
- The harsh reality is that most startups fail within the first four years, so you don’t have to quit your full-time job to pursue your passion. Both can co-exist at the same time.
- Learn to sell. The best entrepreneurs know how to sell the problem, not just the product.
- The best investment you can make is to invest in yourself. Figure out what makes you unique and apply as much leverage as possible.
What’s next for you and The Kind Journal?
We have achieved incredible growth this year so far and we are planning some really great collaborations and partnerships to help us grow and better serve our customers.
Inspired to journal? The Kind Friend have shared a 15% discount code for the Business Chicks community. Just use the code businesschicks2021 at checkout until 31 December 2021 to redeem. They ship worldwide, too! Happy journalling!