MOMS & TOTS MAGAZINE interviews mompreneur Nina Rappaport-Rowan — the creator of KIMOCHIS™. The catalyst to launching KIMOCHIS™ was the devastation Nina felt after the Columbine tragedy in 1999. Nina first launched this line of characters in November 2008, hoping to help parents teach their children about empathy, kindness, resilience, and gratitude. KIMOCHIS™ have a purpose — they are lovable, educational, and can bridge connections and open communication with our kids. SHOP KIMOCHIS™
Q & A
MOMS & TOTS MAGAZINE: WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION FOR DEVELOPING KIMOCHIS?
Nina Rappaport-Rowan: Turning 40 marked a pivotal time in my life. While I have always been satisfied with the choices I made in my career, I knew that I had something a little more purposeful to do. I was really struck by the Columbine incident. This continues to haunt me everyday. The idea that children are killing each other in schools is simply NOT ACCEPTABLE to me. I have to believe there are ways that we can stay connected to our kids, to make sure they are emotionally well, and to give them the proper resources to seek love and help should they need it. Kimochis seemed a simple way to connect with kids. The importance of teaching kids at a young age to understand empathy, kindness, resilience, gratitude — can make them socially strong and emotionally healthy. I like to imagine a world with kinder, better people.
MOMS & TOTS: WHICH CHARACTER WAS DEVELOPED FIRST? WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS BEHIND ITS CREATION?
Nina: I always imagined a cast of characters so I developed these characters as a group design. The characters are based on real life people with real life behaviors. I wanted each character to be likeable, but also to have a personality challenge that they need to work on. I wanted both adults and kids to be able to identify with the characters to bring them a sense of familiarity and comfort. Once the personality descriptions were written, I asked my dear friend and amazingly talented illustrator Hanako Wakiyama to help me design the characters.
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CHARACTER?
Nina: I love all of them for different reasons. But if I have to choose one, it would have to be the Lovey Dove. Lovey Dove is my Mom. My Mom is my best friend. She has believed in me since the day I was born. Her love and support has always been an inspiration to me. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences with Lovey Dove with the rest of the world.
MOMS & TOTS: DO YOU PLAN TO ADD MORE CHARACTERS?
Nina: Yes, we hope to add new character(s) every year. We want to celebrate all of the people we know and to somehow incorporate their loveable personalities into these plush characters.
MOMS & TOTS: ARE YOU PLANNING OTHER MEDIUMS TO INTRODUCE KIMOCHIS, IE. BOOKS, ANIMATED SERIES?
Nina: Yes, our next step will be to create fun, engaging, and educational stories to tell around these characters. Books are an absolute must for this project and we are busy writing down our ideas for stories. We’re also excited about developing an animated series with the Kimochis. My background is in animation, so I look forward to this phase of production. I think that an animated series will take Kimochis over the top. There is nothing more fun than to see these little characters come to life!
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE EDUCATIONAL TOYS?
- Zolo-a-go-go — Sculptural Construction Toy that develops creativity and imagination;
- Scrabble — I love word games;
- Boggle — My favorite game growing up;
- LEGO — I love to watch my son role play, build, destroy, and build again.
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT DEFINES A GOOD EDUCATIONAL TOY?
Nina: For me, any toy that challenges your imagination is a winner. When we are challenged we are growing. I never want to stop growing. And I never want to see my son stop growing.
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT ARE THE TOP THREE (3) ESSENTIAL TOYS THAT EVERY PARENT SHOULD BUY FOR THEIR KIDS?
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT’S YOUR MOM MOTTO?
Nina: If you can dream, come up with a scheme!
Nina with her son, Nathan
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT ARE YOUR PARENTING RULES?
- You can be mad but you can’t be mean.
- Sharing is more caring.
- It is just as much fun to give than it is to receive.
- Don’t jump on Grandma!
- It is always ok to talk about how you feel.
- Please and thank you are a few of the nicest words you can say to get your way.
- Love goes a long way. Try to act with lovingness and kindness.
- Listening is a great lesson.
- The hardest truth is easier to take than the smallest lie. Always choose the truth.
MOMS & TOTS: WHAT ARE THE TOP TEN THINGS THAT ALL MOMS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT RAISING HEALTHY KIDS?
- Feelings can be messy – but they can also be great fun to explore!
- Teaching kids how to bounce back is fundamental. We always learn the most when we make mistakes – the sooner we teach our children this the better.
- Self-confidence and self-esteem will take your children where they need to go.
- Be careful not to put too much pressure on your kids. Love them for who they are no matter what.
- Family dinners – stay connected as a family – dinner is a great way to talk about the highs and lows of the day.
- Play play play! It’s good for your kids, and it’s good for the kid in you!
- Pay attention. Sometimes serious changes can be subtle. Stay attuned to the emotional and physical health of your children.
- Reach out to friends, neighbors, teachers and peers. We all have something great to teach.
- Panic doesn’t get anyone anywhere. Learn how to take deep breaths and take them often.
- Use your instincts. No one knows your child better than you do.