My Early Hour: Sahar Meghani, founder of Trunkaroo 

Frustrated by the lack of creative, smart, engaging toys on the market for kids, Sahar Meghani decided to create her own. And Trunkaroo – a monthly subscription service for kids’ STEM and art projects – was born…

Sahar Meghani, 32, lives in South Kensington with her husband, Nabeel. She is founder of kids’ subscription service Trunkaroo, which launched in recent months, but is taking the parenting world by storm…

What’s your home like?
I love our flat! It’s full of photos of our family and friends and has a very warm and calming feel. The interior is pretty simple – our building is slightly older so we have tried to modernise our flat with more contemporary furniture, rugs and accent pieces. We’ve also added some character through paintings and items we’ve picked up over the years during our travels.

What time are you up in the morning?
I wake up around 6.30 or 7am on weekdays and try to sleep in when possible on the weekends. Sometimes a bit earlier to make it to the gym for an early morning spin or Pilates class when I’m feeling super motivated.

What wakes you up?
I set an alarm on my iWatch which vibrates on my wrist when it’s time to wake up – it’s such a great invention and so nice to not wake up to a blaring alarm.

How do you feel?
I’ve never been a morning person but over the last year as I’ve been working on Trunkaroo I’ve had so much on my mind and so many ideas to get on with that I’m eager to get out of bed and get started with my day.

We believe that children learn best by playing, asking questions, exploring new ideas and most of all enjoying themselves

What do you do first thing?
It’s a bad habit but I reach for my phone and check emails, Whatsapp, social media and read the news. My family and many of my friends are in the US so I’m always getting messages in the middle of the night and catching up on the news that I missed overnight, especially being election season this year.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Not. Enough. Time.

What’s for breakfast?
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so if I’m not rushing off to an early meeting I’ll take the time to prepare some eggs with avocado otherwise a quick oatmeal or yogurt with a cup of tea.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
I try and get to work between 8 or 9am and am usually there until 7 or 8pm on weekdays. Days are a bit of a mix between working with our team on developing our monthly boxes, planning and executing marketing campaigns to spread the word about Trunkaroo, meetings outside the office around London and these days prepping for Christmas season.

If I’m in town, I typically also work at least one day on the weekend to catch up on things that I didn’t get to during the week or to focus on something more creative when I have fewer distractions.

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One of the first things I realised when starting my own business is that there really is no such thing as a typical day and so planning and goal setting is really important. Each week I set my top priorities for that week and at the end of each day I plan out the top three things I’d like to achieve the next day – this process has really helped with my productivity.

What’s your workspace like?
I have a home office, which is now full of Trunkaroo inventory and supplies and totally unusable. Recently we were lucky enough to be selected as Finalists in the MassChallenge accelerator which is a three-month program to support start-ups. As part of the program, we have access to their shared workspace for free (!) – it’s an incredibly inspiring space, with dozens of other motivated founders, unlimited tea, coffee and foosball.

Tell us about your business…
Trunkaroo is a monthly subscription delivering hands-on art and “STEM”-based (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) projects for young children in the UK. We believe that children learn best by playing, asking questions, exploring new ideas and most of all enjoying themselves – so our hope is to make this process hassle-free and convenient for families and to inspire the next generation of mini-makers, scientists, inventors and tinkerers.

I initially set up Trunkaroo out of a personal frustration over current offerings in the market. As an aunt to three nieces who are all very curious (and require constant entertainment!), I was discouraged by the lack of smart, engaging toys that were also beautiful to gift. So, instead of buying them yet another pink doll, I started spending hours online and pouring through books looking for fun and educational arts and craft projects or science experiments to do with them, only to spend even more time and money shopping for supplies. While the process was painful for me, watching my nieces gasp at an erupting volcano we had created or “sell” tickets to and perform a show using homemade shadow puppets was truly delightful.

Early in my career I prioritised work over all else – putting in insane hours and routinely working through the night to meet deadlines

I realised then how crucial hands-on projects are for children but also how difficult it is for well-intentioned but time-poor parents to actually do them (and to avoid the temptation of turning on the TV or handing over an iPad).

I started talking to early childhood teachers, doing customer research, testing prototypes and very quickly I realised that there was a real gap in the market and that I might be onto something pretty exciting. We’ve been live in the market for just a few months now and feel humbled by the amazing response we continue to see from our customers.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Great question! I’d say prioritising. There are so many great ideas and initiatives that we want to pursue to grow the business and it’s just not possible or frankly efficient to chase them all. After making some early mistakes, I’ve found that the key is to test ideas quickly and use the data to focus on the ones that will have the highest impact on the business.

What makes it all worthwhile?
We’re lucky to have an incredibly supportive community who routinely send us feedback as well as letters, emails, photos and videos of them with Trunkaroo. The feeling I get when I see a child engaging with and learning from a product that we have worked so hard to create is priceless.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
I come from a business and tech background from my time on Wall Street and in tech start-ups so the creative side is actually pretty new to me. I love it but am no means a creative wizard – in fact I’m kind of in awe of it and so leave that to the professionals. We’re lucky to have attracted some amazing designers, illustrators and writers on our team who are passionate about children’s education and design and have helped us bring Trunkaroo to life.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
Definitely a shared workspace – starting a business can be a pretty lonely experience, it definitely was for me initially. When I first started out working from home there were many days where for 8-9 hours in my day I wouldn’t have spoken to a single person, which is a really strange and unnatural thing. Whether it’s stepping out to a coffee shop or working in a shared workspace it’s really nice to interact with people who can support and provide a sense of community.

What’s the secret to career success?
I wish I knew! I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors and a very supportive family. I was brought up to believe that if you work hard and really love what you’re doing hopefully the success would come.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Absolutely! Achieving balance is a constant struggle for me. Like many people, early in my career I prioritised work over all else – putting in insane hours and routinely working through the night to meet deadlines. Then, an unexpected family experience made me realise that it’s the relationships and time with friends and family that we’ll cherish most and must make time for. So, while I do lose sight of this sometimes, I try hard to take time out to spend time with people who are important to me and really be present in those moments. Haven’t quite figured out how to prioritise “me-time” and hobbies to be quite honest but I hope I’ll get there eventually!.

Describe an ideal weekend…
Sunny, gym, brunch, nap, friends.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
I’ve been meaning for ages to plan a trip to Japan. f I could wake up in Tokyo tomorrow (and someone else could have done the planning!) that would be amazing.

If you’d like to try out a Trunkaroo art and STEM kit for your kids or to gift, here’s 25% off towards your first month with Trunkaroo. Code: TheEarlyHour at www.trunkaroo.com

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