In the world of children’s toys, a new player has emerged with a purpose that goes beyond entertainment. Jana Hallam, CEO and founder of WonderWell Toy Co., introduces a groundbreaking product, The Kindness Mouse™, to instill core values in children year-round. A former member of EPICentre’s VentureWomen Program and RBC Founders Program, Jana shares her journey, the motivation behind her innovative toy, and the role of EPICentre in shaping her startup.
Jana’s inspiration for The Kindness Mouse™ sprouted from a desire to offer an alternative to a popular seasonal tradition that didn’t align with her parenting philosophy. Motivated by her desire to instill year-round values, especially in post-pandemic times, Jana sought to create a tool that promotes kindness, compassion, and empathy. “We know that being a caregiver is tough,” said Jana. “Recent trends suggest an increasing amount of responsibility on the caregiver to support children’s mental health and social-emotional needs through tools and products, especially as we navigate a post-pandemic world. What if we could create a kinder home, a kinder community, or a kinder world?”
The Kindness Mouse™ is more than just a toy; it’s a tool for early childhood learning and the development of crucial values. Jana envisions a play experience where children embark on aunique adventure with a plush mouse character. The storybook, “When a Mouse is at Your Door,” sets the stage, guiding the mouse’s journey of seeking connection and kindness.
The adventure unfolds as The Kindness Mouse™ travels around the home, appearing in various fun, silly, or hidden spots. “This could be once a day, once a week, or even once a month,” said Jana. Each time the mouse travels, it has an activity card in its backpack. “This includes conversation prompts for the caregiver to deepen the learning,” explains Jana. 24 cards cover 3 categories: activity, engagement, and affirmations around kindness. The experience is flexible, fitting into any schedule, and aims to create lasting memories while making kindness a daily conversation within the home.
WonderWell Toy Co. is positioned as a purpose-led line of toys, and The Kindness Mouse™ embodies this ethos. Jana believes that life’s challenges unite us, and her toys are designed to provide tools for parents and caregivers to support the “whole child.” The Kindness Mouse™ carries a sense of purpose, connection, and empathy, contributing to the well-being of children.
Jana acknowledges the pivotal role EPICentre played in her entrepreneurial journey. EPIC Founders assisted in customer discovery, idea validation, and creating a refined minimum viable product. EPIC VentureWomen provided access to mentorship, advisory services, intellectual property insights, and public speaking training. “These programs couldn’t be more vital to support startup founders, and this little startup has been supported in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and for me, it started with the EPICentre,” said Jana.
As WonderWell Toy Co. looks to the future, Jana’s mission is to create play for a better world. The focus is on expanding the reach of The Kindness Mouse™ while developing new products
addressing social-emotional needs like gratitude, self-esteem, mindfulness, and creativity. The goal is clear – impact and make a difference in the lives of children.
Jana Hallam’s WonderWell Toy Co. is not just crafting toys; it’s shaping a future where play becomes a powerful tool for instilling values and creating a kinder, more compassionate world. The Kindness Mouse™ is just the beginning of this transformative journey.