Read the story behind this unique company
Here is an interview with Marneta Viegas - founder of Relax Kids.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
My father wanted me to be a doctor but it was becoming quite clear to him that was not going to happen! I had been performing on the stage since I was six and I really wanted to be in musicals or a children's TV presenter. As I grew older, I didn't have the confidence to pursue my dream as I didn't fit into the blonde slim TV presenter norm. I did continue with performing right up until setting up Relax Kids.
Why did you set up Relax Kids?
I was a children's entertainer for 13 years in London. Over that time I saw a change in children's behaviour and the inability to sit still and concentrate. Having practised meditation with my mother from a child, I wondered if meditation and relaxation could help children. I wanted to make meditation accessible for children and so I was concerned that so many people would think that it was concerned that people would think relaxation and meditation for children would be a little weird. I had the idea to write a book of children's meditations using fairystories. Children could imagine they were Jack climbing the Beanstalk and floating in the clouds or Sleeping Beauty on a bed of feathers.
What makes Relax Kids so unique and special
When I first started I looked at all the books on my bookshelf and they were all books about children, meditation and fairystories so I decided to combine my three interests together to create fairy story meditations for children. This has captivated the imaginations of children throughout the world. Another unique thing about Relax Kids is our classes. I have developed a 7 step system to help children relax. The system follows the chakra system and so we work with children's natural energy system taking them from a high energy to low energy. The classes also have a creative and imaginative element to them so children have fun while learning to relax.
How does Relax Kids work?
Children can listen to the CDs at bedtime or when they come home from school for just 3 mins or the family could relax together in a Chill Out corner. Just a few moments relaxation can help children's concentration, confidence as well as help them sleep. Parents have also noticed that their children's behaviour improves and they are more able to cope with stress and anxiety. It really is so simple to do and if a family can relax together that is even better as it is a way to de-stress and spend some quality time together.
Who is Relax Kids aimed at?
Relax Kids is for children of all ages. There are CDs for all ages. There are fairytale CDs and books for younger children. We also have a Chill Skills range for children over 7 and are currently working on a Stress Busters CD for teens.
What was your biggest obstacle setting up Relax Kids?
The most difficult thing was convincing adults 10 years ago that relaxation for children was important for children. So many would say that children don't need to relax. There was noone in the UK with relaxation CDs for children and although all the major retailers loved the CDs, they didn't know where to put them on their shelves. Now the market has been opened and everyone is realising how important this is. Looking back it is a great feeling, knowing that I was at the forefront of a new market and saw the need before anyone else did.
What has been the most stressful time?
The early days of setting up the company was very stressful as I had to develop all the exercises, write all the meditations as well as get ISBN numbers, bar codes, and trademarks which I knew nothing about. One very stressful day was when the company who was acting as a distribution network went into liquidation and I had hours to get all my products before they were seized by the administrators. I brought everything back to my kitchen and just cried wanting to give the whole thing up.
What are you most proud of?
I think I am most proud that we have managed to grow the company slowly without taking investment but also not losing the ethos and core values. Sometimes when a company gets bigger it can be easy to lose sight of the reasons why you started in the first place. I am lucky that I have a team of employees and coaches who have the same values and so we grow and develop as a community.
Do you think that Relax Kids can reach out to more than just kids?
Yes we all know that relaxation is so vital for everyone as we are all so stressed. Even though I have had so many parents and teachers say that they love using my CDs for themselves, I am working on a relaxation CD for adults and teens. We also run relaxation sessions for adults.
Wheres the evidence base that this works?
There has been so much research over the last 30 years showing that meditation and relaxation improves concentration, learning and pain management. We ran a 3 year pilot in a school in Liverpool (UK) where the children were using Relax Kids on a daily basis. Exclusions reduced from 19 in 2006 to zero in 2009. 2010 and 2011.
What was your experience going on the TV programme Dragons' Den
It was much more stressful and scary than I realised. I waited nearly ten hours in a holding room before I went in. Walking up the stairs makes you even more out of breath and everything is created to put you on edge. It was painful when I realised they were laughing at me and I cried all the way home on the train as I felt my dream had been shattered.
What and where would you be now if your had not entered the Dragon's Den?
Being on the show definitely helped promote the company nationally and also internationally as there were so many parents and teachers who could see that the idea was a great one and much needed. I do think I would be doing the same thing if I hadn't gone on Dragons' Den but we might not have expanded so much. I still have my box of magic tricks ready (so I can be a party entertainer again) - just in case it doesn't work out.
Do you feel that you've achieved your goal yet?
I don't think that when I set up Relax Kids I had any goals. I definitely didn't realise it would be so successful. I didn't ever believe I would have trained over 700 coaches from over 30 countries. I didn't ever think that Relax Kids would be used in every school in whole boroughs. I don't think when I wrote my first meditation, I realised it would be used by literally hundreds of thousands of children. The thought that I am putting thousands and thousands of children to sleep every night and help so many relax in school makes me smile. That makes life worth living.