Teni & Tayo Creations produces STEM kits, toys, books, apparel, and more for kids.
The business is on a mission to help close the representation gap in the products made for kids while creating fun and engaging products that any child can enjoy.
We caught up with founder Omobola Imoisili to learn more.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was born and raised in Nigeria and was always surrounded by people that looked like me, but now I’m raising 2 young daughters in California, and we are a minority.
After my girls were born it didn’t take long for me to notice the lack of representation in the everyday things for kids, but also the lack of awareness when it came to African culture and history.
Most people only think of poverty and war when they think of Africa, but I wanted my daughters to feel proud of their heritage and to know that there is more to Africa than that.
That’s when I decided to start something on my own. My hope is that the products I create appeal to children from all ethnic groups, while at the same allowing black and African children to feel more empowered, and proud to be who they are.
What is special about the way you teach kids about Africa?
I incorporate hands-on activities into the learning process which makes the learning so much fun. Each month I send subscribers a box of crafts inspired by Africa. They’ll make things like a mechanical safe while they learn about King Mansa Musa.
They’ll make a wooden thatch house while they learn about the Ndebele tribe. They’ll make a loom while they learn about African fabrics and so much more. It is the most fun way for kids to learn about Africa! Learn more at teniandtayo.com/subscribe
Why do you think it is important to teach kids about Africa?
Research shows that when children learn about their cultural heritage, they are emotionally healthier and have a better sense of self. I believe that when children are confident in who they are and emotionally healthy, they will grow up to create strong communities and influence the change we want to see in the future.
In other words, kids learning about Africa will make the world a better place!
What kinds of topics do you cover with the subscription box?
We cover a variety of topics! One month we did a country profile on Ghana, another month we discussed the Dahomey warriors and the Woman King movie by Viola Davis, and another month we talked about King Mansa Musa, the richest man who ever lived.
Each box comes with a tutorial video and each month we donate a portion of the proceeds to charities helping people in need in Africa and the diaspora. Our goal is to showcase all the wonderful culture and history that Africa has to offer and instill a sense of pride in the minds of the little kids who subscribe.
How do you decide what to include in your subscription box?
I teach a STEM robotics class and an African Folktales class, very different topics, I know. However, I get a lot of ideas from those two classes on what to put in the box. Many (not all) of the things in the subscription box are STEM toys (e.g., we’ve done a mechanical safe and a glowing house) so interacting with the kids in the STEM class helps to vet and test some of the things that go in the box. And by teaching the African folktales class, I learn what kids find interesting and build content around that for the subscription box.
What other products do you offer?
We offer a range of STEM and educational toys. All our products have a pinch of African influence because representation matters, and it is very important to us. Our most popular product is a kit where kids get to build their own solar powered car. It has a black superhero on the box. And yes, it works!
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
My advice is to pull a Nike and “Just Do It.” If you have an idea, don’t waste too much time thinking about the obstacles. Instead, focus on the steps that you need to take in order to get to your end goal.
Break into smaller manageable chunks if you need do. But don’t wait. Also, do not be afraid to adapt and change based on what is working and not working. Business is hard and being flexible is important to survival.
What are your future goals for Teni & Tayo Creations?
My goal is for Teni and Tayo Creations to be known as the go to place for fun and educational toys and activities for kids that empower and inspire. And through my products and services, I would love for Teni & Tayo to help change the narrative of Africa and inspire the next generation of leaders to work together to improve Black communities across the world.