Today’s Mom on A Mission is Jenae Heitkamp, a child therapist, entrepreneur and mother of a young daughter. Together with her sister Gina Heitkamp, a start-up consultant with an MBA, they have created a brand of dolls and books that inspire little girls to be CEOs and tech leaders. How awesome is that! As a tech mompreneur start up company ourselves, we felt you all NEEDED to know how amazing this team of sisters are, and what these dolls are going to mean to little girls in the future. Not to mention, it’s a brand that they and ourselves would totally have loved to play with when we were kids!
Here is Janae, and her company, iBesties.
In her own words..
iBesties is a collection of dolls, books & online “edutainment” that promotes entrepreneurship and technology learning for young girls. The book follows the adventures of six friends, turned internet moguls, after their friendship blog goes viral. ( um, hello, that is amazing) The dolls are based off of the main characters in the book, who each have a special business or tech power.
With iBesties, Gina and I hope to flip the table on the idea of “conventional” careers for women, by demonstrating to young girls everywhere that the sky is the limit. The inspiration for iBesties is rooted in a deep passion and commitment to the empowerment of girls and young women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
To give to my daughter, and the next generation of girls, inspirational and modern media characters and dolls. I developed the idea for iBesties while working in a Los Angeles school. I noticed the characters on many of the girls’ backpacks, lunch boxes, t-shirts, etc and would ask them who the characters were and what they liked about them. Most of the time the answer was “I like them because they’re pretty”. Many of these characters had the same princess and fairy theme that I had grown up with so I started thinking about how I could make more inspiration characters while still keeping girls engaged. My sister and I developed the iBesties characters- 6 middle school girls each with their own unique “techy” skill such as “coding queen”, “digital diva”, “gadget girl” and more. Currently we have two dolls and two books based off the characters, as well as a website where girls can learn basic coding skills themselves. We have started a KICKSTARTER that ends the July 31st.
The young girls I’ve worked with over the years inspired me to make the characters as relatable as possible. Our characters come from backgrounds such as blended families, foster families and military families. I want every little girl to be able to see herself in the stories. My daughter is also a huge source of inspiration. I want her to see that there are many more things to aspire to be than just princesses, and to know that the sky’s the limit for what she can be in the future.
Advice that I live by right now is to give as many options as possible. My daughter has dolls but also trucks and soccer balls. Teach kids how to code but also take them for hikes. The more options and experiences kids have the more the world opens up to them.
Here is their website as well, go found out which doll you or your daughter most identifies with!
On a side note, we think, Nicole, our blog and social media guru is totally IZZY to a tee… hehehe (social media guru, and their digital diva.) Who would you be?
I think her new avatar will be: