Growing up in the United States with Indonesian parents who refused to speak English, saw Via Tendon grow up bilingual. Whether she liked it or not.
These days she counts this as a blessing, however, as a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her, Via admits it was something she struggled with.
“Back then, I never saw anyone who looked like me in the things I watched or stuff I read,” she recalls. “Now as a woman of colour working in the corporate world, I still often find myself in situations where I’m the token Asian, or the only woman in the room.”
Wanting to change that for both her children and future generations, Via created Metta Play, bilingual kids yoga and affirmation cards that help little ones learn yoga, mindfulness and another language through play.
The cards help children instill daily practices as well as learning a new language – whilst always promoting empathy, cultural awareness and tolerance.
Can you tell us a little bit about Metta Play and where the idea came from?
Metta Play is bilingual yoga and affirmation cards helping kids learn yoga, mindfulness and another language through play. A few big life things inspired it like growing up in the States as an Indonesian, not having access to mental health education, becoming a yoga teacher and teaching underserved and at-risk communities, and ultimately being a Mom, wanting to leave behind a better world for my future kids.
How did you take the business from concept to reality – what was that journey like?
It all started with a dream… and the journey was long!
I’ve always wanted to create something for kids, but never had the time. After I got married and moved to a corporate job in 2019, I had so much of it! So I started thinking about what space I could own, what I could confidently offer, what problem I could solve, and what that solution could look like. I wanted something practical, not too big of an investment, impactful and easy to trial.
I thought of a book but then the whole publishing part scared me! While I was doing extra yoga training hours, we played a lot with yoga cards and I thought it was the perfect practical learning tool to carry my idea. So I started conceptualising, reached out to my good friend to support me with the visuals, researched local suppliers, tested it on a bunch of kids and parents, and finally in May 2020, I launched the bilingual kids’ yoga and affirmation cards. Right before I had my firstborn and in the height of a global pandemic – what a time to be alive!
You had a successful corporate career before deciding to launch your own business, what was the catalyst for making the leap to entrepreneur?
My family and the future I wanted to have for my kids. I still work corporate because I appreciate a strong safety net, but I wanted to create and own something I was truly proud of. And hopefully as it grows, I can have more flexibility in choosing how to spend my time. That’s the dream!
What are some of the biggest hurdles you have faced since starting your business?
A lot and I am still facing them!! Starting a new brand from scratch is the ultimate hurdle. There is zero brand and product awareness. Some months honestly go without a sale, then some you get multiple orders. My reality is no one knows Metta Play, no one knows me, no one really seeks out these materials. So I have to work extra hard, extra smart and put in extra money to get the brand out there.
Which leads to my second and third biggest hurdle, time and money!
What are you most proud of when it comes to Metta Play?
That it’s a living breathing thing! The cards are in kids’ playrooms, classrooms, and stores. It’s thought of as a gift for friends and families. It’s featured in different publications. Unbelievable! It is really humbling and very surreal!
You’ve since welcomed a little one of your own since launching your business, how has this impacted you as a business person? Has it changed the way you work?
It’s definitely shifted my perspective and given me a more tangible sense of purpose. And strangely, it’s also given me a lot of space to breathe and surrender. She is a good reminder for me to slow down, be patient, and prioritise.
What do you find the hardest thing about being a working mum?
Time is a sneaky thief! I don’t have enough of it and I don’t have enough of me to go around.
What is the best advice you have for managing the two?
Be kind to yourself (yes it is easier said than done, but I’m making it a practice!) It is honestly a tough, tough, tough gig.
Do you have any tips for how you manage/plan your days around work and kids?
Not really. I think every person has their own working rhythm. I used to be a strictly structured, routined person. I’ve now leaned into the fact that we’re all human and no two days are ever the same. And this has served me so well!
So before I start my day, I consciously take stock of how both my daughter and I are feeling, how well we slept, what appointments we have, and work it out from there. There are a few sure things like I have a master to-do list and a daily one. I plan ahead to use nap times as efficiently as possible. I know I am absolutely destroyed by 8/9pm, so I also need to keep that in mind.
What are the daily rituals you do to personally bring loving kindness into your life?
As a family, we never miss a hug, kiss and an “I love you” in the morning or night. My husband and I do a simple gratitude practice every night before bed. I pray before bed and express gratitude as I wake up and I make time and space to connect with my parents everyday (since we’ve been apart due to COVID).
What do you love most about what you do?
That it’s true to who I am. I truly believe in it, I want to fight for it, and I want my kids to be proud of it.