When Sheryll Yu, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, read the same book night after night to her toddler, she began to realize that reading is not enough: young children need ways to bond and understand what it is. ‘they hear. Yu believed that with the right tools she could foster learning, but all she could find were ineffective workbooks and time-consuming Pinterest activities. So she decided to create her own system of easy-to-follow learning activities that hired her son, and when friends asked where they could get them, TigerKubz was born. We spoke with this mother of three who recently moved to Holmdel to talk about how her comprehensive system allows busy parents to be their child’s first teacher, how the pandemic has helped her polish. her business and her favorite places her family goes out on the water to look.
Selected image Photo credit: Pinhai Shen
Tell us a bit about your family.
My husband, Jimmy Yu, and I have three boys, Jayden, 12, Jaxson, 5, and Jeremy, 15 months. We moved from New York to Holmdel last December as part of the Covid-19 mass exodus. Although I grew up in Old Bridge, I am unfamiliar with Monmouth County and enjoyed getting to know the state again and seeing all that this area has to offer.
What is your professional background and how did it play a role in your launch of TigerKubz?
I worked in finance at BlackRock, an asset management company, but took a career hiatus due to a combination of “mum’s guilt” and burnout. When I started looking for a new job, I didn’t feel the spark and couldn’t justify spending so much time away from my kids, so I decided to put all my energy into educating my children until I find the right person. At that time, my oldest was in grade 3 and I had a 2.5 year old child. I read my youngest child’s favorite book, The runaway rabbit, to him every day for a month, and one day I asked him if he knew what a crocus was, and he didn’t. It made me realize that reading is not enough. As I am Type A I have done a lot of research on how young children learn. I realized that you need to help your kids make connections with things they don’t know about in their day-to-day life, so I created extension activities so that he can grasp specific concepts. Eventually it became the TigerKubz system.
What was your “aha” moment that led you to take the step towards entrepreneurship?
The learning journey begins from birth to 5 years old, and when the basics are done, the child’s educational journey is easier to set up. I focused on my toddler’s learning and found Pinterest activities too long and workbooks limited and ineffective. So I did a lot of research and started creating learning kits for him. A friend saw what I was doing and encouraged me to share my system with other parents. The beauty of TigerKubz is that it empowers parents who might doubt themselves and the tools they need to be their child’s first teacher.
What sets TigerKubz apart from other early childhood enrichment programs?
My system helps empower parents who might doubt themselves and think they don’t need to be qualified to be their child’s first teacher. TigerKubz is ideal for 2-4 year olds, but is somewhat flexible with age as young children vary in their strengths and needs. For some ages, exercise books aren’t always developmentally appropriate, and there are only a limited number of sticker activities young children can do. This system fills this gap in the market. And unlike many other programs, as soon as a parent purchases the program, they can begin to be educationally engaged with their child.
Are there any causes that are particularly close to your heart?
Giving back is very important to me. One way to do this is to provide learning opportunities. It gives university students some experience and the opportunity to be creative and to practice their business skills. I also work in partnership with Women in Need, an organization that provides safe housing and essential services to homeless single mothers with families. With every purchase of TigerKubz, one is given to a mom in need.
How has the pandemic affected your business?
I started growing my business in November 2019 and had planned to launch it in March, but the pandemic struck. I thought about starting it later, but there were so many parents of toddlers who needed advice with them at home, so I started the business by posting free printables and guides to storybook activities. These are the same concept as my learning kits, but since I didn’t have the physical products ready, these guides gave parents the ability to create extension-based activities at home. I had excellent feedback which allowed me to determine what needs I could and should meet and the direction I wanted to take.
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you juggle running a family and a business?
Usually mompreneurs remind me of the tree in the book, The tree that gives. It is far too easy for us busy moms to get caught up in the dynamic of taking care of absolutely everything to the detriment of our well-being. I have found it helpful to work smarter, not harder. My advice is to outsource tasks so that you can spend your time where you need it most and be honest when you feel overworked. In addition, keep the lines of communication open with your husband or partner to share household management and parental responsibilities as much as possible.
How to reset after a hard day?
There are some things I find useful including shutting down all social media and electronic devices. My best days are when I “lose” my cell phone. Additionally, since returning to New Jersey, I have learned to embrace and appreciate the closeness to nature. It’s crazy, but even weeding our lawn has become meditative and therapeutic for me. And every now and then, a glass of wine or whiskey at the end of the day is a welcome way to unwind.
What are some of your favorite local NJ businesses?
The Turning Point in Holmdel is a welcoming, family-friendly place for breakfast and lunch and has become our go-to after weekend football practice. Living in the city, we have been spoiled by having access to various foods and ingredients. Discovering Fresh Food Mart in Middletown was such a pleasant surprise. Although not too big, this place has everything I need to cook our favorite Asian dishes at home. If you’ve never been to Bell Works in Holmdel, I highly recommend it. It’s like a city with shops, restaurants, businesses, coworking spaces, and more, and the best part is it’s inside, so it’s a whole experience. year, whatever the weather.
What do you like to do in New Jersey with your family?
With three energetic boys our favorite activity is to go hiking. We love Thompson Park because no matter how active we feel, there is a long or short hiking trail for us. Holmdel Park is another place we love. It has a paved area and lots of trees which are like natural bridges and lots of play areas and areas to explore. And we love to boating and fishing in Keyport, where we moor our boat. We’ll take it out of Raritan Bay or take it to Point Pleasant or Atlantic Highlands, where there are so many places we can dock and have dinner. Another place we love for boating is Hopatcong Lake. To please you, we will rent an Airbnb and moor the boat there.
What would you like to know to become NJMOMpreneur before starting your business?
I am a person, not a big company. When I started I tried to adopt the entrepreneurial mindset that had helped me be successful in my previous career – I wanted to plan things very far in advance. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make things perfect, but entrepreneurship is a very different animal. I now know that it is okay to move forward without having all the answers, and that it is better to embrace the journey and adapt if necessary because things will change as you go.
For more information on Sheryll Yu and TigerKubz, check out their website, Facebook and Instagram pages.
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