‘In The Unibox’ – Supplier Focus
Find out more about one of our amazing suppliers this month: Frances Verbeek! We include one of her Happi Empire creations in the April ‘So Freakin’ Zen’ UniBox and UniPocket.
1. Describe The Happi Empire for us.
The intention behind The Happi Empire is to make useful, pretty tools that help you cultivate inner happiness, process life, let go and align with Love. Think of it as a practical, modern translation of all the fantastic spiritual and wellness teachings there are 🙂
In The Happi Empire range, you will find guided journals for self care and gratitude, inspiring card decks to hone your inner guidance and a range of mini action pads for things like manifesting and creating a positive life experience. I also run a private Facebook group to support people (and myself!) in remembering to focus on the light, as it’s one thing to know this stuff, but a different thing to actually put it into practice!
The ‘i’ in Happi is a nod towards inner happiness, as that is the only place you can find true happiness that will last.
2. We’re including a Happi planner in our April Unibox. Tell us a little bit about it in your own words.
I love the Happi Balance Pad and use it every day myself! It takes you through a quick process to make sure you have given yourself space to check in with your mind, body and spirit. The intention is to nurture your focus towards self care and what is most important to you. When we look after ourselves on these levels, our life flows much better. I designed it because I wanted something easy and quick that I could keep in my bag or have on my desk, to remind me to look after myself on a holistic level.
3. When and how did The Happi Empire come about?
When I left school, I went on some profound spiritual retreats which shifted my perspective about the world and what is possible. I was so blown away by these teachings that I was determined to share them with others. It annoyed me that all the spiritual and wellness resources at the time were really serious or had a religious tinge. So my vision was to create helpful stuff that feels fresh, light and free!
4. What are you most proud of and what would you have done differently… and why?
I’m most proud of manifesting my dream, really! I’ve held this dream for so long – that I wanted to work full-time for myself on a worthy, positive, sparkly mission! It’s taken 15 years from that first product, but I’ve done it. I hated that when I worked for other people, you couldn’t take the day off for your period each month, now I can haha! Little things.
I’m also proud that I’ve done everything myself, from the concept, writing, design, production and marketing. Oh and I’m also really proud that I’ve got to a point where I outsource the fulfilment of orders – that is epic!
What would I have done differently? When I started selling my first product, Happi Cards, I spent all the money I made on living costs, as I wasn’t business focused at that point. I really struggled to bring together the money to get new stock for about 2 years after I sold out, so that drummed into me that I must save all the money and only pay myself 1/3 of income, which is what I roughly do now. I’m sure that is business 101, but I was young and thinking about boys a lot! 😉
5. Did you go to University? Has it had an impact on what you do today? (If you didn’t go to Uni – please tell us about the path you took instead!)
I didn’t go to University, I didn’t enjoy learning in an academic way, so couldn’t wait to break free 😉 Instead, I had a few social kind of jobs like in a shop and a hairdressers, whilst working out what I was going to do with my life.
Throughout my teens I had taught myself graphic design and website design, by spending hours on dial-up internet. After a couple of years of ‘easy’ jobs, I decided to focus on design and got a couple of jobs as a junior designer. But working full time felt trappy and boring, so I saved up and went travelling in Australia and New Zealand.
Around this time, I also went on those life changing spiritual retreats – three in total, which was when my urge to create something like The Happi Empire started emerging. I created my first product Happi Cards after these retreats, to support me in remembering this new perspective.
Then I decided to move to Australia full time and ended up spending 10 years there! (I’m back in the UK now). In my first couple of years down under, I played, had fun and worked in some lovely shops whilst The Happi Empire idea bubbled in the background. Then in 2012 I finally officially launched The Happi Empire. I had just met my now-husband and he gave me a loan to reprint Happi Cards and launch The Happi Empire. I managed to pay him back in the first year and since then have brought out a new product every year or so, self sufficiently.
6. What tip would give any of our students who might be thinking about launching their own brand or business one day?
I lurrrrve talking business!!! If you feel drawn to running your own biz, it’s totally meant for you. I guess my tip would be to start small and start now. Depending on what your business idea is, you don’t actually need much money. And with social media, you can start creating an audience instantly.
Work out what you’re really selling (I’m not actually selling printed products, I’m selling inner happiness) and start sharing inspiration with your audience about this topic. For example, if you wanted to sell vegan snacks, you’re really selling a healthy lifestyle, so that’s what you inspire your audience with.
I have grown my business over the years into a full time gig, but I started off when I was 21, by investing £2000 (thanks mum!) to mass-produce my first product, Happi Cards. After I relaunched in 2012, I saved most of the money I made to invest in more products. This meant I continued freelancing as a graphic and website designer part time for 5 years whilst I built this up.
I’m not into stressy hustle business vibes, as I’ve suffered a bit with anxiety, so I’m into creating a life of peace, happiness and freedom – financially and time-wise. So my other tip is to make your biz fit your dream life. Don’t follow biz blogs blindly, thinking their way is the only way – follow your intuition and keep adapting and trying new things 🙂
7. Tell us something about yourself that will surprise us.
I enjoy talking to myself, especially whilst cooking. I present spoof cooking YouTube videos to the oven, usually in an American accent. In another life, I would like to have a comedy spoof YouTube channel!
8. Finally… what do you do when you feel the need to slow things down a bit and introduce a little more ‘zen’ into your life?
I have found that I need to have a regular ‘zen’ practice to keep my life in balance. I go to a regular holistic yoga class that is just wonderful. I also find meditation really helpful for slowing the mind down and calming looping thoughts. I make sure I go for at least one walk a day in nature, which really helps with my overall health. And of course I use Happi products, to check in with how I’m feeling, work out what I need and listen to my inner guidance for whatever challenge I’m facing that day.