Female Founder Feature – Acacia Pappas, Big World Boxes

Acacia Pappas is the Founder & Owner of Big World Boxes.

Tell us about your company. What inspired you to start it?

We deliver bundles of joy to families everywhere! We curate and create boxes full of super sensory, hands-on, educational projects and activities for young children ages four to seven. My sister and I started Big World Boxes to help busy parents during the pandemic. I was a teacher for six years so as the pandemic hit, I knew young children would need meaningful and engaging things to do in their homes. Juggling work, parenting, and schooling from home, we were really feeling for parents. One in three mothers have stated lack of childcare as the reason for quitting their job or reducing their hours. Not only that, but parents working from home express feelings of guilt over how much time their kids are spending on screens. One mom said “My job requires me to be in meetings a lot of the day and so [my daughter] is spending a lot of time in front of the TV. That’s my child care.”
Who are your cofounders and what makes you a great team?
As a teacher, I loved working with families. It takes a village. I always sought creative ways to engage parents in their child’s educational journey. But when this idea sparked, I knew nothing about starting or running a business. My sister Bethany brings years of experience starting and running small businesses. I’m the dreamer and she’s the realist. She is a mother, I am teacher. She has strong skills in strategizing and pragmatism whereas I prefer to create, innovate and play. We both have big hearts, and care deeply about who we’re serving as we build this business. Not only our customers, but our employees, and everyone we touch along the way. We pull together toward the common goal to bring joy to children and give parents a break. Being sisters makes things easier. Building something new requires trust, common vision, and good communication. We have a lifetime of trust and mutual support established. We already know how to communicate assertively, negotiate, resolve conflict, etc. I think we both have big hearts and deep conviction to do the right thing as we build and run this company.
How is your company making a difference?
As parents are stretched to max capacity and need a break, the easiest thing to do is plug their kid into a tablet. This is completely understandable. But the opportunity cost of screen time is high. While an infant is born with around 50 trillion synapses, a three year old’s brain has grown to have 1000 trillion. Synapses in the brain are added or pruned based on life experiences. This is called experience dependent neuroplasticity​. Children need a diversity of sensory experiences for healthy cognitive development. Additionally, the future of work is asking this question, “What can you build from scratch?” Parents can give their child this experience of creating things for scratch at an early age. It starts with simple concepts and materials: glue, scissors, paint, paper, clay, etc. and can build to more complex materials and tasks. We want to empower kids to “create what they imagine”.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Ideas are free, but bringing an idea to life is a lot of hard work. We chose eCommerce as the mode to deliver boxes to families everywhere. Neither of us know anything about eCommerce. We are learning as we go, so challenges abound. We are constantly experimenting, testing, and learning from our mistakes. We have already made so many mistakes (too many to list here.) In general, my greatest challenge is keeping my eyes up on the horizon of what’s possible and where we are going. The day to day can feel like a slog. When I over-engineer something, or build into an unexamined assumption, the failure can be demoralizing and disappointing. I have to vigilantly listen to stories of other entrepreneurs, those who have gone before us, in order to keep my wits about me and stay the course.
What is your biggest win?
Hands down, the first sale! We started with the idea around August 1st, 2020 and made our first sale on December 6th, so about four months later.
Who is your role model?
Do I have to choose just one? Michelle Obama, Brené Brown, Walt Disney, Yvon Chouinard, Leonardo DiVinci, Jocko Willink, Jim Collins, Jane Jacobs, Coco Chanel…
What do you wish you had known before starting your company?
I wish I knew the importance of the who and how of hiring. As we are still small, who we hire matters a great deal. Additionally, how to find the right skill sets for what we need can be quite tricky.
What is your CEO superpower?
My previous boss said “You can’t help but act with conviction.” And I think he was right. When I see or feel that something is the right thing to do, I have to do it, even if it costs me everything.
What has been your experience with FFA?
I’m new to FFA but as a first time female founder, I’m very grateful to have access to this kind of support and community. Thank you FFA!
Anything else you want people to know?
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