Education

Sarah Gilbert: Empowering Children Through Little Sunflower

Sarah's journey blossoms through pandemic hurdles, driven by belief, mentorship, and the nurturing of little sunflowers

Rita Pierson once said, "Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."

In a world where nurturing the emotional well-being of our youngest generation is so important, founders like Sarah from Little Sunflower are lighting the way.

Little Sunflower is more than just a startup; it's an animated, interactive, digital sanctuary for children navigating the complexities of their emotions. As Sarah aptly puts it, "It's about helping children understand and navigate big feelings through fun and animation, the tools that children connect with."

Let's dive into Sarah's journey as a founder and how she's reshaping the landscape of children's emotional well-being through her innovative startup.

Little Sunflower's Rise

Sarah's journey began with a realisation during her time as a drama teacher.

"I often felt that I was giving children a face of confidence because behind their eyes and in their hearts I knew what I was doing wasn't sticking," she shares.

This insight, coupled with her background in psychology and holistic therapies, inspired her to create a resource that would truly resonate with children.

The early stages of entrepreneurship presented Sarah with a myriad of challenges, from balancing work as a single mother to navigating the uncertainties of lockdowns and funding shortages.

Yet, her resilience shone through as she pivoted and adapted her business model, turning setbacks into opportunities.

"I used the time during lockdown to apply for innovation vouchers, feasibility grants, trading online vouchers, and developed the animated, interactive, digital, online platform," she reflects.

Identifying her target market wasn't just a business decision for Sarah; it was a deeply personal one rooted in her experience as an educator and a creative soul.

"The Little Sunflower parent resource is now sold as far away as New Zealand and Canada."

"The animated characters all experience what children do on any given day, and it's the emotional connection that children are drawn to," she explains.

This emotional resonance, coupled with the alarming rise in childhood mental health issues, fuelled her confidence in Little Sunflower's potential impact.

Starting her business, Sarah’s hit some snags along the way, but she kept on learning and tweaking things as she went.

"You need funding to build the content and grow revenue, but it can be difficult to access funding until proving you can grow revenue," she acknowledges.

Sarah's belief in the product and her knack for tackling problems helped propel Little Sunflower forward.

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Triumph in Uncertainty

Reflecting on moments of doubt, Sarah recalls the period of uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"That was a moment of doubt and a definite need to face fear for the future," she admits. However, her belief, conviction, and determination to keep going ultimately triumphed over adversity.

Scaling her business wasn't just about expanding reach; it was about deepening impact.

"Sometimes, it can be hard to hear what you don't want to hear about your business, but it's these times I feel are moments of growth."

Sarah embraced online platforms and continually expanded her skill set to cater to a broader audience. "The Little Sunflower parent resource is now sold as far away as New Zealand and Canada," she proudly shares.

While Sarah's journey has been marked by warmth and positivity, she acknowledges the challenges of convincing stakeholders to invest in her vision. "If there is resistance, it's with loosening those purse strings that will help to develop the product," she reflects.

Belief, Resilience, Growth

Amidst pivotal decisions and transformative moments, Sarah identifies the pandemic as a catalyst for innovation.

"From a self-delivered lifestyle business in the locality, it became a vibrant interactive platform that is available to any child or school anywhere," she observes.

As our conversation draws to a close, Sarah shares her wisdom with aspiring founders: "If you believe in your product and have a passion for what you are doing, then keep going."

Her experience proves that having faith in yourself, bouncing back from setbacks, and staying determined can really take you places.

On mentorship, Sarah emphasises the value of seeking guidance and feedback. "Sometimes, it can be hard to hear what you don't want to hear about your business, but it's these times I feel are moments of growth," she affirms.

Sarah's journey with Little Sunflower isn't just about building a business; it's about nurturing little sunflowers—children—across the globe, helping them navigate the complexities of emotions and empowering them to bloom brightly in a world filled with challenges and opportunities.

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