July 24, 2023

Building an Impact Brand: The Blooming with Birdie Story

Building an Impact Brand: The Blooming with Birdie Story

Join us on an exciting journey as we dive into the world of education, curiosity, and compassion with our special guest, Ashley Bird. In this episode, Ashley shares her unique experience growing up in a traditional educational model and how it inspired her to explore the transformative power of Montessori education. 

Discover how Ashley's passion for learning, her love for sci-fi, and her desire to make a positive impact led her to create a captivating children's TV show called "Blooming with Birdie." 

Get ready to be inspired and gain insights into fostering curiosity, self-direction, and a deep connection with the world around us. Whether you're a parent, educator, or simply curious about innovative learning approaches, this podcast episode is a must-listen.

Thank you for listening,

Zahra Cruzan

Founder, The Brand Collaborative And Brand Author

The Brand Collaborative      Brand Author

Transcript

Zahra  

Welcome, Ashley, I'm so excited to have you here on the show with us. For those of you who don't know, Ashley Bird is the owner and founder of Blooming with Birdie. She runs a lot of amazing events here in San Antonio throughout the year, one of which is the Monarch Festival. If you have not been out here to that yet, you have to come out. And we'll talk a little bit about that as we continue on. But I just wanted to say welcome, so excited to have you on the show today.

 

Ashley  

Yeah, thank you. Thank you for having me, you know, I love everything that you guys do. So I'm happy to be able to be a part of it, so thank you.

 

Zahra  

Fantastic. Okay, so I just want to dive right in to the quick so tell for those who aren't familiar with Blooming with Birdie, can you give us a little bit of background? What is Blooming with Birdie you know, what kind of things can we can know, does your company and organization do?

 

Ashley  

Yeah, so Blooming with Birdie, is an education company and we create both digital or online experiences as well as in person experiences. And I really leverage so my background in my history was actually as a Montessori educator and so I've brought Montessori concepts into the digital learning space and into really curated event, but I'll explain what the story is, because I know that that's kind of a buzzword, especially when you have young children. But if you're outside of that, it might be something that's new so Montessori is basically an educational approach that was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy. And she worked with really young children and realize that they do really well, by learning with hands on manipulatives, that they can be self directed, or kind of responsible for their own education, when they're created, have a prepared environment to be able to learn at their own pace and the things that they're most interested in. So there's also a huge social emotional component, which brings me to my other big inspiration, which has been Mr. Rogers. So kind of combine those two in order to create the content and experiences that we have. 

 

Zahra  

That's fantastic. So I will say, for those of us that have young kids at home, right, and it's gonna like, what are your thoughts? And why is it so important that you brought it in your mind like, why is it so vital that this exists for kids? You know, I have, you know, I talk about all the time, right, my second grader, my son, and one of the things that I think it's very true that sales for entrepreneurs, right, like 90% of success and failure is like happening up here. Well, for those of you who are listening and not seeing in your mind, right, it's a mindset thing. And so I think that for kids, too, and that's kind of the mystery, that's why we went to Montessori, you know, is that we want him to learn how to learn, we want him to learn how to figure things out, and have a perception that the process of figuring it out was a fun one. Not a frustrating one, because I don't really feel like I learned that growing up, you know, it was like, the process of learning was angsty, because everything was like red marks and bad grades. And so the process of learning became a very faux pas thing to do, you either knew it or you didn't. And if you didn't know it, then you were instantly wrong or bad or not good enough, or not making the grades. And so like there was very little value placed on the learning process, there was a lot of value placed on the knowing process. You know, like, that's where the emphasis was so like, what are your thoughts on that and why is it so important that your curriculum exists and that it remains accessible to as many people as humanly possible, right, kids and adults.

 

Ashley  

Yeah, absolutely. So kind of a lot to unpack in that right like, I think I completely agree with you. I had the great fortune of going to Montessori school when I was in pre K and kinder, which actually, as a side note, what brought me back was my mom, she told me to go read The Absorbent Mind whenever I was frustrated with some educational experiences later in life, but it was in you know, a traditional model. And it was very much based on memorize this facts and information to regurgitate them in the next day or two. And if you have a great, you know, short term recall memory, you're going to do really well. And after exiting that, and obviously, you know, moving into my adult life and then making my own observations with children and working in the education system, I was like, this is not the root of what it means to be a happy, successful person. And I, you know, really realized in my experience of observing Montessori classrooms, as I was trying to decide my career pathway that with Montessori, the real goal is that we are learning how to learn and we are making a connection with life because at the end of the day, when we look at what any one of us do, if we wake up and we're doing something that is literally just like the taking the test, learning the facts and information, regurgitating like that type of experience that is very, you know, controlled by what's outside of us, then that's when we feel in that we're in those like oppressive environments or that we're not living up to our potential right compared to or in contrast to, you know, more of a Montessori environment where you learn how to be self directed you learn what brings you joy, you learn how to learn, and then with our curriculum or the content and stuff that we create. Specifically, my goal is to help those children or help people I don't, our events aren't just for kids, we have Nerdy with Birdie for adults too. But our goal is simply for you to fall in love with life and to fall in love with learning whether it's about bees or the monarch butterfly or planting plants, which these things happen to be my passion, so it's easy for me to create content, but whatever it may be, we just want you to feel connected to something outside of yourself that might lead to compassion or taking action to make the world a better place. I think this really mirrors you know, the elementary child so Montessori believes in the most recognized and believes in the stages of development. And once with children hit around that early elementary to upper elementary level, they're really trying to find their place in life and their place in society, like, where do they excel? Where do they belong? What is their role, and so we want to provide them with as many opportunities as possible to find that role and to find that place. It's not about becoming the next doctor or lawyer or anything like that but finding that sense of purpose and what you can do to contribute to the world around you.

 

Zahra  

I love that and I think it's really and I want to know what you think about this. So what you're describing is exactly how my husband operates right. So he went to Montessori School, in fact, he went to the same Montessori school that my son went to. And whenever it's yeah, it's so crazy my son's gym teacher was my husband's teacher. And so, yeah, it was, it was beautiful, it was a beautiful experience for us, you know, for her to have all these stories about, you know, Robert's dad, it's funny, because he does approach everything with a figure that he can tinker with something, he has the patience to sit with something until he figures it out. And if I can't find a YouTube video in five minutes, I'm beyond frustrated and like, this is private school education for you, right? Like, there's gotta be a 123, a flatpak set of manual instructions, because otherwise, I'm like, why can't I figure this out? What's going on right and so it's been a process for me as an entrepreneur, a very steep learning curve, to be able to sit in that moment of just not knowing until you know, right and that's a very difficult thing. But you know, you mentioned something and you made a connection but even after we work together, I hadn't made until just right now how important that process is, because, you know, the point is, is to have humans feel empowered to make a change. And I think sometimes when we're so overwhelmed, and there isn't a detailed map as to how to create that change, we tend to get overwhelmed and give up and it's hopeless. But if you can learn to approach it in that Montessori based concept with this, let's sit with the problem. Let's think it through let's tinker, let's just take some kind of action, let's touch the thing and see what happens until we get what we want. It kind of takes that overwhelm, because the expectation of instantly knowing, like, don't try and solve the problem until you already know how to fix it. That doesn't. it's counterintuitive but yeah, it's how a lot of us operate. And so sometimes, if that's the learning model that we've been given, does that prevent us from saying, oh, that's just too big and scary? Oh, I could never solve that problem oh, I could never make an impact. Do you think that that is why your program is so successful, to getting people to get out of that sense of freezer overwhelming into motion?

 

Ashley  

I mean, I want to, I want to hope so. I mean, you know, as you were talking, the thing that you know really kind of popped into my mind was, I'm a big sci fi nerd, like, that's one of my personal like hobbies and passions, like I'm just a big sci fi nerd. And as you were talking, like I was thinking about, you know, Montessori provides the environment for you to be able to create a mindset that reminds me of the movie The Matrix with the keymaker. Like, there's always another key, there's always another way, like there's no such thing as a true dead end, where you have no options or no ways there's, you always can find a way that was Montessori, just to bring it really down into the concrete she uses, especially at the primary level, didactic, or self correcting materials to the one that whatever that I really, really love is like there's it's basically like a wooden material that has so little holes drilled into it, they get larger, and then you have the corresponding piece that you put it in there. And it teaches children about, you know, size and estimation and also pincer grip, because they're learning how to write but has multiple functions from it. But the child then has to learn that eventually each one of these will fit but it's not an adult coming over and saying putting an X next to that that's wrong. It's not the feedback isn't external, the feedback is based on this material and that once they're all corrected, the child like, realizes like, oh, I figured it out. I solved the puzzle, because I know that it wasn't right until I continued to do it, right there, it bleeds into that same concept, there's always another way. And in my observation of children, you know, I think that it's sometimes difficult, especially if we've been environment where it's been the opposite, where someone's telling me if I'm doing it right or wrong, and that's, that's all that we know to think that a little child would do that but in working with my nephews, you know, my sister and I went through and come through Montessori stuff and got them a whole lot of materials for the house were them just to play with and then watching you know, the two and a half year old do this and him realizing the first kind of time realizing the sums are messed up or he has pieces leftover. He's like and he just kind of shakes his head, he just starts over and he just does it again and just again without me prompting without me saying, that's not right, or did you see this one? It's there's that innate desire to learn and to find order in our lives, that is innate within us. And I would even argue that, like, we take that away by placing in these environments that are meant to, you know, based on the Industrial Revolution model of everyone doing the same thing the same way at the same time. You know, I just think that we are also incredibly uniquely different and we have to be given the opportunities to learn our differences, and how we can excel and grow with them.

 

Zahra  

Yeah, I think that's so true. And you can see kids, they create their own rules based on those experiences so like, just my son, he's a huge LEGO fanatic. I mean, incredible, right and he's now to the point where he doesn't need to follow the Lego instruction, so built his own. But even when he was little, and we have the Duplo ones, you know, the bigger ones that don't really have instructions, he just kind of like go at it, but he would learn something like in playing with him, he would learn to certain things, and he would tell me, you know, like, he would build something that was maybe heavier on top, and it would keep toppling over and toppling over and he would just get like really frustrated with it. And so then he, you know, keep trying and undo it and redoing finally he learned for himself, you know, that weight distribution principle, but like, he was able to learn that and, you know, and but it was through trial and error it was through, you know, like, it wasn't just kind of, it's not, I don't think it's satisfying, when it's like number one, click this into this, you know, then it's just kind of busy work, you know. 

 

Ashley  

And I think we all have like me, I think you too and to go back to the question you asked me about, like our success, like, we really focus on two things. And that's curiosity and compassion and I think that we naturally are curious human beings, people living things, mammals, like whatever category you want to put us in. And so he wants to figure out naturally, what's going to make that thing work and I do think that, you know, it's important for parents, and it's important for people who support or help, you know, guide children that we don't come over and we say, Oh, you have to fix the bass and you have to blah blah blah, but you know, like, you don't, we don't want to give them away the answer, because then that kind of squashes that curiosity, too, because that curiosity is what leads us down the path of learning and understanding and finding and fulfillment, right? And so just going over like, that falls every time you put up a larger one on top, did you notice that? And it's just enough to like, drive that like, oh, did it well, but when I did, and then they just to get them on their own path. So modeling what that curiosity looks like, versus just giving them the answers and I think that that's what that step by step process does. But that's not to say that that's not also valuable in learning the foundation, right like, you still have to understand the tools and materials with which you're working.

 

Zahra  

That's so true, so I want to kind of switch gears really quickly. So speaking of the learning process, and let's talk about your entrepreneurial journey, because you started your business, right when COVID hit or just after if I remember correctly, so like, what was that?

 

Ashley  

Yeah, so I actually I always joke like, I'm a COVID baby. I'm a COVID baby, so that my business was born as a result of COVID to help solve a problem. So I was working with Monica Mackley from Texas Butterfly Ranch, she had brought me in to support her with the monarch butterfly and pollinator festival, which is amazing, I absolutely love that work. And she asked me to write a curriculum for an idea she had called caterpillar condo which is basically like a pop up mesh kit and milkweed plant, which is the host plant for the monarch butterfly, you put a little caterpillar in there. And then the caterpillar lives off the milkweed plant becomes a chrysalis and so you get to see all of the stages of metamorphosis. And she's like, I want to put these in schools, it's 2020, we're not gonna we don't know what the festival is going to look like, we're probably not going to meet up. So this is a way for us to do some sort of education and outreach to support the monarch butterfly, can you make a curriculum like yes, Montessori educator in my sleep, let's go. So I write a curriculum, and we are ready to share it with the schools and this is about the time when everything's really closing down. And they're like, you know, thank you, we would love to do this but we don't have like, we're not with our kids. We are all virtual, this really needs to be digital content and I was like, Okay, what do I do at the time, we were working with the Wally's, which is a local filmmakers, and you know, wonderful and I went to them, and I was like, Monica was like, why don't just record yourself teaching? And I was like, no, that sounds so incredibly boring, especially as a Montessorian and so I went to the Wally's and told them kind of my predicament and they were like, Well, why don't you just turn it into a TV show? Like go do some research, figure out what your approach would what you would want your approach to be like, and then come back to us and we'll see if we can make it work and so I did. So I did a deep dive into kids education and of course found myself you know, really matching up with Mr. Rogers, who was my favorite show when I was little, and then going back and watching it as an adult like, oh my gosh, like the way he speaks to children, the social emotional education is a single character. So like it's not, you're not getting lost in all the dopamine drip because the action like this is really healthy quality content and you know, data supports that information too. And then of course, like Bill Nye, so it was like, okay, and then to be honest, and if there's any if you're a Parks and Rec fan, but Johnny karate I just was like, I just wanted to see monarch butterfly and graphics over my head. So those were influences and so the Wally's unfortunately not available, I found another company who was able to help me create and do everything. And so we put together basically, we turn those four, four lessons into a little kids TV show and created my character who was Birdie, who was you know, based on my whenever I taught, my name is Ashley Bird but when I taught in the Montessori classroom, I was quickly called Birdie by all of my students. So that was kind of where the name came from and yeah, we added a whole bunch of graphics and things like that, just to make it really interesting. I enjoy being on camera had never had never done it before, but ends up really loving it. Yeah, and then from there, you know, you were asking about my journey, it really just kind of took off on its own, like, now I had this product, I didn't really know what to do with it and so I want to Geekdom. They basically support entrepreneurs downtown on Houston Street, I went there and did what's called a Startup Weekend, where they just basically support you in figuring out your business model. And all that kind of stuff did it went through the TechStars ends up getting second place at that time, it was a competition, which gave me you know, funding to be able to start my LLC and then like an idea of what I could do with this content so did that. And then right around the same time, I content kind of leaked out to some other nonprofits and other organizations and I had one musical bridgers reached out to me, and they were like, we love this content, can you make some for us? And I was like, sure, I guess I guess I can, yes and so then started making content, and then from there, it just kind of ballooned. And now we have I've worked with, I don't even know how many different organizations in San Antonio Sasw, Pearl, like a long list of people. And then we've also created more Blooming with Birdie content. Yeah, but it's been a ton of fun and absolutely love it but yeah, that's kind of how we got started and amongst solving 2020 problems that turned into making a TV show.

 

Zahra  

I love that I love how intuitive and organic it was and in a time when nobody thought it was possible to make money, you found a solution to a very real problem. And I think that goes to show you know a lot and I know that right now kind of people are wondering, oh, is a recession coming, oh, is it going to be you know, impossible and so I think it's really cool that you shared your story about how even in a seemingly shrinking market, you were able to produce something that was a real value, and people are willing to pay for it. There's another topic that I wanted to just touch on real quick is, I love how creative you have gotten because I know one of your passions, and one of the things that's very important to you, is making sure that this curriculum is available to anybody who wants it and that can be kind of a problem as a business, right? Because you've got to keep the lights on, and you've got to be able to pay your bills, you've got to be able to hire a fantastic video production companies to create wonderful content that actually entertaining and all the things you know, but at the same time, you've got a heart for what you do. And if you could you just give it away to everybody for free and so I think that's kind of like the catch 22 of a lot of companies that aren't impact driven, that are cause driven is that you genuinely and truly believe the world needs this, you genuinely truly love the people who you know, could use it or your audience or customers. And then you have the realities of like funding, right and keeping and continuing to grow that and you there's that logical understanding, well, the more money I make, the more people have access to it. But the more I charge, possibly the less people have access to it and I love how you were able to creatively find a way to get funding so that you could make this accessible to Title 1 schools. So talk about that process and how that came to you and how you were able to make that connection and like can you talk a little bit about that creative process, I feel like that's your Montessori kicking in, like, here's the problem.

 

Ashley  

Absolutely, so as a Mexican woman, like, I immediately after people start observing, they're like, oh, my gosh, like you're really able to show someone as a woman, as someone who is of color like that you can do this too, that you can be like we really promote citizen science and promote being a scientist period of being curious in nature. So having the opportunity and seeing the value of that for our students in San Antonio, who are primarily Hispanic, I was like, Oh my gosh, like there's a whole other level of value here outside of information about the monarch butterfly, you know, alongside with having spent time in Title 1 schools and really, that just pulls on my heartstrings, right. And so we actually went to a local sponsor and said, this is the program we had done it the year before, we had just self funded, this is the program you know, we really believe in it. Well, we showed them all the video, here's what we could do, like we would really love for this program to be accessible and free to Title 1 schools, can you support us and they did. And so then that next year, we were in 75 classrooms, like for free. We gave a free teacher training, and it was just immensely successful and then when our teachers respond for the next year, we went back and we said, hey, is it this is the learning outcomes, we would like to be able to do it again, can we do even more in there like? Absolutely, and here's bonus money, can you actually enhance the curriculum and make more videos. Yes, I absolutely do that and so over time, this partnership has really just grown and grown and grown to where what was able to best serve our sponsor was for us to open up a nonprofit. So by opening a nonprofit, which is called Project Bloom, we were able to bring in those types of funds, which will provide opportunity to get access to whatever the curriculum or content may be for free in Title 1 schools. So at this point, I have to do some quick mental math, but we've been in over I think, 350 400 classrooms and we've also been in the San Antonio Public Library and Biblio tech and other organizations both here and in Austin and in Braunfels, and then other surrounding, like small towns around San Antonio. So yeah, I guess it was just like, I found that no matter what, like I have overhead, I have a company to run, like, I can't just give away my programming for free, and I am a for profit organization, right. But it's still really important to me that every child has access to this types of information, education, and to be honest, to be talked to in a really kind and respectful way. And so that was why we were I was like, I have to figure this out and fortunately, it was literally the first person we asked, you know, so it worked out. 

 

Zahra  

Yeah, so I have a question for you, you know, just kind of talking and looking at it from a branding perspective. You know, what do you think you were able to capitalize on or what do you think, what priorities or values do you think as a brand you really stuck to, in order to deliver the quality that you did to build your culture and to build your raving fan base, so that when you came next year, they said, Oh, yeah, exceeded expectations, here's more money, you know, because I think that is a big part of, you know, so many of us are worried about and work on brand awareness that we sometimes, you know, failed to put as much emphasis on brand, reputation, and management and it has a lot to do with not just delivering on your brand, but setting the expectation of what your brand is, so that when you deliver what you want to deliver, it's in line with and adds value to that so can you talk a little bit about how you did that? 

 

Ashley  

Yeah, it was really like a really transformative process in creating this character, Birdie, and then having a product that represents was basically starring this character, right, which was really I realized, like a facet of myself for who I am when I'm in a Montessori classroom, which is I like to think the best version of myself, because in Montessori, like direct, cute, direct kind communication is just paramount, high respect for everybody in the room, making sure we're always listening to each other. Like, I can't speak more highly of how heart centric that the Montessori environment is and that, in turn, that's what what was pulled through in those videos and through that character. And so it was actually in working with my team, that we realized that Birdie was kind of who we all want to be when it comes to the way that we run in the way that we represent our company. So in our communications, with our sponsors, with the teachers, with the students, whoever it is that we're talking to, at any given moment, we provide that same level of authenticity and compassion and kindness and direct communication as a reflection of the type of product that we have. And then on top of that, I think that staying true to our core values, so making sure that, you know, it would be really easy, and this is still something we're battling, it would be really easy to say like, let's just throw on YouTube and try and make some money and just try and get out there. And it's like, well, that that kind of goes against what we believe in, like we think that took children's materials and content should really be curated and chosen, selected, and not just what pops up next on the on the screen and that I can't control what's going to be after me and that that isn't what's best for children, you know, so remaining true to that. And then within our branding, too, like I really believe that, you know, young children are capable of so much more than we give them credit for and I don't think that they need, you know, really how a high pitch loud fast music or these really, really crazy bright colors in order to capture their attention, I think by speaking to them kindly, meeting them where they are and providing them with something that is engaging, that that's all that it requires. And so you know, our website for example, we were really mindful about our color choices like no I don't want hot pink and neon green on there. Like it's meant to be a place that that is provides focus and an opportunity to be able to learn and to grow and to build our attention span, not feel like we're here and now we're really engaged now I'm not engaged so I'm gonna move on like that is not that was not the experience we were ever trying to create. Like it's hard, especially when you bring in new designers and they're like, oh, have you thought about this? Or what if we use this really funky kind and I'm like, No, nope, we stick with simple circles and triangles. And you know, we're not everything that we do is very intentional and curated, especially in on the children's and for children, including our events. So I was one thing I hadn't really gotten into yet but basically, we realized I was kind of thrown into doing an in person event whenever we were working on a new series about bees. And I was like, Okay, well, I'm not, I'm not going to just do an event, I want to do a really highly curated event that kind of mirrors a Montessori classroom as if you were entering a Montessori classroom and could have, we ended up being more station like, just because of the nature of an event, which is not Montessori stations is not a Montessori thing. But that was very curated for the child and design where they could do everything independently so that looked like every station had stepped stools, for the tables in case for a really small friends that were going to need that support and everything was designed, all pre done for small amounts, that they would feel comfortable being able to, you know, make, do, pot, whatever the experience was, they could do it completely independently, and educating the parent on, you know, yeah, you can plant that plant for your kid. And you can even do it together or you can stand back and allow your child the opportunity to learn how to do it themselves, and support them if they need that support. There was parent education and volunteer education behind what it was really, we wanted it to look like that highly curated environment to support their learning. And that was another one where I was like, No, I like really, I really don't want XYZ here, because I want to make sure that our children are able to have that type of experience. And, you know, it went really, really well, like, you know, throughout the event had parents like I've never been to something like this, like, how do we design it, like my kid is like, it just went and did it on their own, they felt so comfortable. I was like, it's because it's made, it's made for them. It's designed for children, it's not about the adults in the room, it's about the adults having fun, it's about creating a space for children to be able to thrive and connect and engage and ultimately learn. 

 

Zahra  

I love that and I think one of the things that I want to highlight about that walked through and thank you for that that was a beautiful, like example is the consistency is that you took a stand on the brand position, and then you consistently executed it and you take the time, you know, we always say like, you know, everybody, we love it, when we get the requests, like I need a logo in a week, you know, I need a brand identity, and I got to eat for like work, right? Because a lot of this work, it takes time, because you have to sit in that moment and say, in order for me to deliver on this brand promise, in order for me to be true to this position that I've taken in the market, the thing that's differentiating me and you know, the thing that's making this idea that I am tied to that I believe makes me necessary in this industry, you know, whatever that is, how do I need to show up? What does that look like? What does that sound like, you know, putting yourself really in that customer journey and not just, you know, pre made AI customer journeys, you know, like really sitting down and saying not to say that we don't use you know, and and have that help us but like really sitting down? What does that look like? What does communication look like? What are the programs look like? What does the environment look like? What does the training look like? How do we train our team? How do we create job postings? How do we what partners do we choose to, you know, connect with, and I think that's a big one, especially in the nonprofit world, because sometimes it's well, whoever's issuing grants is who we're affiliating with, but sometimes they'll don't really aligned with our mission and values and our approach. And then we find ourselves having to like tweak and torture, what we believe to fit those specifications and it doesn't always, you know, translate. And so just kind of like in case you guys missed it, rewind and re listen to how she's explained going through that process of consistently showing up, you know, in that like Montessori Montessori, Mr. Rogers, like everything is with that, like, how are we showing up? And we're giving the support to everybody in the room, everybody involved in that experience, giving them the tools and resources that they need to show up consistently as a brand. And then what are we giving our customers and then understanding that your customer journeys are in part, the parents and you have to think about that, but it's also the kids and so a lot of times in branding, there's more than one segment that we're looking at, there's more than one person involved. There's the decision maker and then there's the end user and so understanding you know, okay, well what are the parents need to, you know, be successful, what's going to give them that aha moment? What's going to make it exciting for them seeing their kid watching there's nothing like watching your kid learn something there's nothing like watching your kids get excited about something that they weren't excited about before. As a parent, there's no price tag on that, you know, and then as a kid, what do they need like, as a child? What does the child need to feel engaged and not intimidated or bored? Or, you know, self conscious or, you know, like, how would that support them and just really looking at it taking the time to look at what that all would be, I think is really important.

 

Ashley  

Yeah and I mean, just to piggyback off that, like, I think that that was that maintaining that mindset, like you know, before was really emphasizing how we really looked at it through the lens of the child, but it was also mirrored in the experience the parent would have. So when we got there, we had a place where you could check in your stroller like I know that I don't want this mom this, if it's a mom, and she's got three kids and she doesn't have anywhere to post stroller, we were gonna really confined space, like, here's where you can check in. When we did, we had a section because you know, being able to make your own food is a huge part of Montessori being able to feed yourself being able to nourish yourself. And so we had a section where they were able to make their we call them Birdies baits, but these little energy balls that a kid could make on their own. And we made sure that it was gluten free, and no nut allergies, and every parent would feel safe and comfortable. So that same, you know, experience of providing like a really mindful experience where the children have can feel safe so can the parents based on those decisions to be able to create an environment where they feel like they can rest a little bit, there's plenty of chairs for you to go sit down while you're doing this, or there's these things that you can do for your littlest one, while the your older one is out there really exploring with their hands or whatever the case may be. But yeah, it has to go through every aspect of what you're creating, both physically and for human beings, making sure that you're mirroring those core values, which is, I'll be honest, like, you know, it's, it can be really challenging, because like I said, it was me saying like, no, they can't just push them through. I know what parents feel like, no, I can't, no, I can't have some with peanut butter because what happens if that one kid gets it, and then that parent, like, you have to stand by what you really believe in and, you can reflect, you know, I ruffle feathers, sometimes it's like, I have to do what's best for for our audience. 

 

Zahra  

I love that, so do you have any words of wisdom for somebody who either is thinking of starting a cause driven brand, or somebody who started a cause driven brand, and is starting to feel the pinch, because I think whenever you hold to a standard, there comes a point where your values are challenged, you're, you know, like, Oh, if I do this, I could lose a sponsor, I could lose clients, I could lose revenue that I feel like desperately needs. So what advice would you have for people, you know, who are considering creating, or continuing a brand that really is cause driven and focused?

 

Ashley  

I think that there's a couple things, I think first like wading into there's always a way and being really flexible and open to truly figuring out what your market and your customer needs. And what I mean, I know we did that we had our digital learning kits that do fairly well but then I found that the learning experiences and the in person experiences, just the feedback was so overwhelming and positive, it was like, okay, our community needs this. And it doesn't make you know, the margins aren't quite as high. But I really believe that in time, we would be able to get there and you know, and we have, and we're able to reach more students, more children, more families by doing that, and being able to then present the opportunity to be able to do the other programming, co programming and things that we have, but just a really open minded listening to our audience and being flexible about what our product and what what we offer looks like. And those experiences are still curated and follow everything that we offer that is still absolutely Blooming with Birdie, it's just in a different package, you know? 

 

Zahra  

Yeah, I love that. I think that that's just getting creative with it like finding that true Montessori spirit. Okay, so for people who have kids, or are adults and just need to connect with you, how do we do it, how do we get a hold of you? How do we find out when the next Blooming with Birdie or Nerdy with Birdie experience is.

 

Ashley  

So social media is a great place to be able to connect with me, I keep up with that. I do my best to keep up with that our website is being completely redone right now but there's still a place on there where you can submit inquiries. So that's another great place and come visit us in about two weeks, we're almost done. That way we've completely revamped it just to make sure to speak to what you were saying earlier that we're clearly sharing to our brands to our clients and our customers exactly what we have to offer, but through email, but the best bit is really social media. That's where we try and always communicate and then anytime we have events and things like that, we'll also be able to promote it there and then we have a newsletter you can sign up for on our website also.

 

Zahra  

Awesome, so for those of you guys who are listening in your cars, don't panic, we're gonna have it all linked up in the show notes, but you can just click away and probably about two and this thing is published, your website will be up and running. So go check that out oh gosh, as always, I love talking with you. We could spend another four hours and I have like a million questions, but I know you have a life and other things to do. So thank you for the time that you shared and your knowledge and your wisdom, I know our listeners are going to just eat this up.

 

Ashley  

Yeah. Thank you, thank you for having me and thank you for creating a platform for us to be able to share what we're doing and what's working and give advice. It's really helpful.

 

Zahra  

Awesome. All right, guys, well, thanks again and we will see you next time.

Ashley Bird Profile Photo

Ashley Bird

Founder, Blooming with Birdie

As founder and CEO of Blooming with Birdie, Ashely applies her skills and experience as a Montessori educator, digital learning consultant, and project manager to create engaging, innovative, and educational experiences that are both in-person and digital.

Blooming with Birdie is a children's education company that creates high quality, Montessori-inspired digital and in-person experiences that inspire curiosity and compassion for life.