Inspired by her own children, and concerns about child and adolescent mental health in general, Francesca Geens founded Happy Self Journal in 2017. The business has grown quickly since then with journaling becoming increasingly popular, and of course, concerns about our children as they experienced something none of us had ever been through before.  

As part of our Spotlight on Suppliers series we asked Francesca a few questions so we could find out more about the people and ideas behind the business.

What gave you the idea for Happy Self Journal? 

I actually started work on the journal over 4 years ago as it was a passion project I worked on alongside my previous business. I became really interested in the science of happiness and those simple habits like gratitude and kindness that have been shown to really impact our happiness and wellbeing. I had been gratitude journaling which had a profound impact on me and really wanted my children to do the same. So I set about creating something I thought my kids would love to use themselves.

I put my heart and soul into this project and launched it with no real business plans. Things took off quite quickly after launch and we’ve been on a rollercoaster ride ever since. I’m so grateful that I now run the business with my husband, Mr HappySelf, and that we have grown a small team to support us. We just celebrated our third birthday this summer! It’s been an amazing three years.

How have you found the last 18 months? 

Tough. The biggest challenge was keeping up with the business which grew a lot over the last 18 months – it was pretty all consuming and left me completely exhausted. The absolute highlight though was receiving two rounds of Innovate UK funding which allowed us to distribute thousands of journals to children on free school meals. It was hugely rewarding being able to do something so positive during such a challenging time.

Have you learned anything new in the last 18 months that you will be keeping now life has (somewhat) returned to normal? 

Lockdown forced me to review how I exercise, and I love the new fitness habits I have established over the last 18 months. Joe Wicks got the whole family started with this and I don’t think I have ever exercised so much since. It feels great and it’s a habit I plan to keep going.

A lot of our packages are sent for people going through something, whether that’s illness or a break up or a tough time at work. What’s your go-to product or thing to do when you’re feeling the need for TLC? 

I do love a massage or facial- apart from the pampering there is nothing better than just lying still for an hour and taking some time out.

What is the most thoughtful thing someone has ever done for you?

So grateful for all the little things my husband and the kids do to be kind and supportive when things are busy with work – from my daughter taking on cooking dinner on a regular basis to my husband subscribing me to a bi-weekly fresh flower subscription because he knows how much joy it gives me to have fresh flowers in the house.

With the start to the new school year, lots of children and their parents might be navigating some challenging feelings. What is the best piece of advice you have heard about how to foster more positive feelings about school?

To acknowledge the feelings and not always rush in with a fix. Just listening and giving the opportunity to talk through the challenges does wonders. This is something I always try and encourage when I fill out the journal with my youngest.

What makes you laugh?

Old episodes of Friends still make me laugh. It’s been great rewatching the series with my kids.

Words to live by?

I have two prints next to my desk – one says ‘These are the good old days’ and reminds me to be in the moment and appreciate the now and the other ‘She believed she could and so she did’ which reminds me to keep going through all the ups and downs that entrepreneurial life throughs my way.

You can find Happy Self Journals in our Create a Kids Gift Box, and in our Create a Teenager Gift Box.