Announcing October’s Surprise Theme…

 

Did you know? The California Gold Rush was not the first gold rush in US history. Records show that a twelve-year-old boy, Conrad Reed, made the first gold discovery in North Carolina. More than 30,000 people rushed to the state to find gold. In this Ride your little one will head West in search of their own gold rush! They’ll learn how to pan for gold just like the ’49ers, and explore the history of the largest mass migration in the US.

Surprise Fact: When the Gold Rush started, there weren’t any banks in California! #staycurious

 

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Can we ask you for a favor?

 

Hi Surprise Ride Family,

Many of you have been with us from the very start – when we first appeared on Shark Tank three years ago! Thank you for continuing to tell friends and family about Surprise Ride. We wouldn’t be here without your continued support

This week, we’re launching a special collection in Michaels Stores beginning Saturday, October 14th! It’s the screen-free fun and learning you’ve come to know and love packed into beautiful packaging that makes the perfect gift for any little one in your life. The one of a kind collection will be available in stores in the greater Chicago, Houston, and Austin areas as well as online on Michaels.com! This launch is dear to our hearts… We grew up going to Michaels with our dad, and we never imagined that we would see a product we created on their shelves. We really need your help to make this launch a success. Here’s what we need from you:

  • Live in any of these cities? Go to your local Michaels Store this weekend and check out our rides! (Find your local store here)
  • Have friends or family in these cities? Tell them to go check out our kits! Go on, hit forward on this email RIGHT now. We <3  you 🙂
  • Live in or near Chicago? Join us this Friday, October 13th at the Michaels Store on 3131 N Clark Street from 1:30-3pm to meet us and Shark Tank’s Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary! We’ll be autographing kits and taking photos!
  • Bonus: If you post a photo next to our Michaels Store display, we’ll send you a thank you and a special surprise! It will be awesome, like you, we promise. 😉 Use #SurpriseRide and be sure to tag us @SurpriseRide.

Any questions? Hit reply to this email!

Hugs,

Rosy & Donna
Founders of Surprise Ride

Surprise Ride + Michaels: A Perfect Match

 

Dear Riders,

Growing up in a creative home, with an artist dad, we were always working on a new DIY project… whether it was modelling with clay, painting whimsical birdhouses, or more likely helping our dad frame his latest artwork! These projects made for some of our favorite childhood memories. This is why we’re so excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Michaels, the leading crafts retailer!  

Surprise Ride and Michaels are a perfect match, especially since we spent so much time shopping there as kids. We’re joining forces to make it easier than ever for families to spend time together without the gadgets and create memories that last a lifetime.

Starting this October, you’ll be able to find a brand new collection of our most popular learning kits in select Michaels stores across the country as well as on Michaels.com. (Find your local store here!) We couldn’t be more excited to share this news with you, and we’re so grateful to have you aboard this Ride.

With love,

Donna, Rosy, & the Surprise Ride Team

P.S. Check out our live announcement of our Michaels partnership on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange below!

Announcing September’s Surprise Theme…

 

What formed about 4.5 billion years ago out of materials from a crash between Earth and another planet? Step into the Surprise Ride lab as we explore September’s Surprise Theme… the moon! Did you know that the moon, Earth’s closest neighbor, is a satellite, meaning it moves around the Earth? Find out all this, and more as you explore September’s Ride and build your own model moon!

Surprise Fact: Did you know that the moon is moving 1.5 inches further away from Earth every year?! #staycurious

 

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Remembering September 11th

By Kelly Voci, Product Director

Yesterday marked the 16th anniversary of September 11. For me, the events are still burned into my brain like it was yesterday.

My mom was driving me to school, when I heard her gasp slightly at something on the radio. “What’s wrong Mom?” She looked shaken, but with my mom’s typical strength, she quietly replied, “Nothing.”

Thinking nothing of it, I walked into class as horrific images spanned the TV. Planes had crashed into the New York towers. Then, it hit me. Why my mom was so scared. My dad was in New York. I wasn’t sure where exactly, but my eyes immediately filled with tears. I watched in what seemed like slow motion; half listening, half silent in my own thoughts. “A girl needs her Dad. This can’t be happening.”

I’m not sure how long it took, but I heard the teacher call my name softly, and the word “Kelly…” shook me back into reality. I convinced my legs to move as I looked at that pink slip in her hand with dread. The words on that paper could change my life forever.

I took a deep breath as I tried to be brave, and slowly read, “Your dad is okay.” Tears of relief immediately overwhelmed me. My dad was okay.

I can’t remember the rest of the school day, or if I even stayed. Everything was a blur at that point. We cancelled our afternoon activities to be together as a family, and to be grateful for everything we had. Particularly, each other.

That’s the perspective from a young girl, and my dad was kind enough to share his account. As an ex-crime reporter, you can’t begin to imagine the things my dad has seen, but according to him, September 11 was the worst. In the words of a true reporter, his story paints the chaos of a horrific event while beautifully capturing his emotions as a reporter, a survivor, and a dad.

*Article by Springfield Lewis published in The Cincinnati Post, Saturday, October 11, 2001. Vol. 120, No. 246

This piece is framed and hung at my house back in Texas. I re-read it yesterday as a grown woman, and couldn’t help but see it differently. I don’t remember reading about the chaos and uncertainty; maybe I blocked it out because it was hard for me to read. Maybe it’s because the only words that seemed to stick were: “Where’s Dad? Sweeter words were never spoken.”

Reading it now as a mom, an Air Force veteran and a wife, the words hit even harder. Imagining a strong and capable man, my amazing dad, associate something patriotic with something so horrific… to the point where he wells up with tears; you stop to remember what’s important.

So, we share this article and a moment of silence for all the families impacted by 9/11. 16 years ago, our lives changed forever, and we will never forget.

Learn How to Make Chalk

Ever wanted to make chalk? Explore India and learn how, as you make Rangoli chalk art in our latest India Ride!

Rangoli is a floor art popular in India, full of colorful designs or geometric patterns. It’s normally made with powder (like the chalk powder in your Ride) including sand, sawdust or spices. During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, people decorate their outside entrances to welcome people into their homes. In this video, you’ll get to make your own chalk and draw custom Rangoli floor art. Let’s get started!

 

 

New to Surprise Ride? Get everything you need to make chalk and Rangoli floor art here.

What’s Working in Washington: Surprise Ride

The podcast What’s Working in Washington recently spoke to our very own Rosy Khalife on how Surprise Ride is tackling screen addiction in kids. See what Rosy had to say below, and check out the full article and podcast on Federal News Radio here.

DC sisters foster creativity in kids

By Candice Pye – May 30, 2017

Screen addiction is seen by many as an epidemic. Children are spending countless hours a day staring at tablets and televisions, and parents are wondering how to get them inspired to be curious, creative minds.

Sisters Rosy and Donna Khalife, Co-Captains of D.C. start-up Surprise Ride, say they have the solution.

“Research shows that kids are spending [more than seven] hours a day on screens and that’s a big problem,” says Rosy Khalife. “We’re there to help.”

Surprise Ride is a subscription service that delivers hands-on activities and toys to kids. Each month, they deliver a new product to their customers. Their packages typically include a book, a snack, and a hands-on activity that is meant to draw children away from their screens.

Packages can also be bought one-off on their website, and Surprise Ride will also be launching in retail later this year.

What differentiates Surprise Ride from other toy companies is its kid- and parent-friendly material. “The biggest problem we’ve found with a lot of toys and activities that are out there is [that they] always need parent supervision. Parents are so busy,” says Khalife.

“Our activities have photo instructions that are very easy. They speak to the child and it’s very easy for them to do it on their own.

“[The toy industry is] constantly churning out products that are just for the child. They’re very bright, they’re loud, packaging is crazy…everything in it is for the kid and that’s not what mom wants,” Khalife told What’s Working in Washington.

Surprise Ride is growing, with 20 employees and the founders still hiring.

With their appearance on hit reality show Shark Tank, they were able to go about financing in an atypical fashion. Not only did they acquire hundreds of customers the night that their episode aired, but Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary made them an offer and they took it.

Khalife says she owes a large part of her company’s success to her prime location.

“We love D.C.,” says Khalife. “You’re able to hire from such a wonderful, diverse group of people. People who have worked in the government, people who have done advocacy, people who have worked at non-profits…you get a really great array of people here.”

Article and podcast by Federal News Radio, What’s Working in Washington


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What’s it like to have Kevin O’Leary on your team?

The Small Business Journal recently spoke to our very own Donna Khalife on what it’s like to have Kevin O’Leary on board. See what Donna had to say below, and check out the full article on The Small Business Journal here.


Being The CEO of Your Company and Having Kevin O’Leary on Your Team

By The Small Business Journal – May 25, 2017

Surprise Ride designs activity kits and toys aimed at keeping elementary school aged kids entertained away from screens. The company was founded in 2013 by sisters Donna and Rosy Khalife. The women wanted to find a way to give moms a break but also keep kids away from screen time. Their idea was inspired by the DIY activities their dad would make for them as kids. Surprise Ride was featured on Season 5 Episode 9 of Shark Tank where the Khalife sisters turned down offers from the Sharks but later accepted a surprise offer from Kevin O’Leary on an episode of Beyond The Tank. I recently caught up with Donna Khalife, the Co-Founder and CEO of Surprise Ride. She talked to me about what her day-to-day currently looks like at the company, how to deal with burnout, and her work-crush on Sheryl Sandberg, among other things.

Jay: So what’s it like at your position now with Surprise Ride what is it like on a daily basis for you?

Donna: Right now it’s really about reaching more people and reaching more families. I spend a lot of my time on growth, dreaming up partnerships that could be mutually beneficial and also thinking about what type of hires we need to make to be able to support our growth.

Jay: What role does Kevin O’Leary play at Surprise Ride? Is he pretty hands-off as an investor or does he play a more active advisor role?

Donna: There are two things we love about having Kevin on our team. First, he is a brilliant entrepreneur. It’s wonderful — pun intended — to work with an investor who is not just financially minded but also has experience with operations. I was on a call with him yesterday and I had a very real operational question and I knew that there would be no one that could answer it better than Kevin. Because he’s been there and he can speak from his personal experience. The second thing is, he is just a good person. He really embodies the values of Shark Tank, encouraging and empowering people to be entrepreneurs, to create jobs, to create products that consumers can love and enjoy.

Jay:  There’s a tremendous value that investors like Kevin bring, as you mentioned, but there’s so much work that you guys do that he trusts you to execute. So, how do you find that balance between what’s on your shoulders and what you can ask of him?

Donna: It’s a balance for sure, but the bulk of it is on our shoulders, it’s really not half-and-half. It’s more like  95-to-5 or 98-to-2. Having mentors like Mr. Wonderful is really all about helping you fill in the gaps and get guidance more than anything but you have to ask the right questions for it to be fruitful. That relationship can not carry you: you really have to carry yourself.

Jay: What’s been the happiest or most awesome piece of feedback that you’ve ever gotten from your customers?

Donna: One thing that really stuck with me was a question from a little girl named Sophie. she asked  us, “from the thousands of questions that you could be covering in your Surprise Ride kits, how do you choose the themes?” This was an amazing question because adults often ask us things like, “don’t you think you’ll run out of topics to cover? Is this sustainable?” Children really see the world in this very curious way and they’re trying to absorb as much learning as possible. And they’ve got that thirst for learning. Sophie’s question reminded me why we do what we do: to feed children’s curiosities, to get them off of screens and get them fascinated with the real world.

Jay:  If you got stuck in a window seat on a three-hour flight and you could choose anyone in the world to sit next to and pick their brain who would that person be and what would you ask them?

Donna: If I could go back in time I’d probably pick Albert Einstein. Learning to see the world with that childlike wonder is something that I think more and more adults need to do and that’s one of the things that we try to foster through our activity kits for kids,  just nurturing that curiosity. I think that’s something that Albert Einstein really embodied. Today, if I had the honor to sit next to someone, I would probably pick Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook. She’s an amazing human being and woman in the workplace, (where are all my #LeanIn ladies?).  There’s so much I could learn just chatting with her both on a professional and a personal level.

Jay: What advice can you offer to budding entrepreneurs?

Donna: Don’t forget to have fun! I wish I had more fun when we first started the company. When we first came up with the concept I had a blast but once we launched it things just got stressful. As the owner of a business it’s easy find yourself lost in the weeds worrying about every detail can be very stressful and really keep you up at night, which is an easy way to burn out and I think I got close to that at one point and when you get close to burnout it really doesn’t serve anyone, it doesn’t serve your company it doesn’t serve your customers, your employees or yourself. So I think I would just remind anyone who is launching a company to take breaks, have fun, celebrate the victories don’t feel like this is the end all be all, give it the best shot and see where the journey takes you.

Article written by The Small Business Journal


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Announcing May’s Surprise Theme…

 

 

Get ready to learn about one of the most famous artists of all time. While living in France, this artist looked out his window one morning and saw a breathtaking view. He used this as inspiration to paint Starry Night, one of his most famous paintings! In this month’s Surprise Ride, we explored the artistic creations of… Vincent van Gogh! In this Ride, your little ones will have the chance to create their own masterpiece, and explore the science behind the technique of marbling!

Surprise Fact: Did you know that van Gogh taught himself to paint, and that some of his artworks took more than a year to dry because the paint was so thick?! #staycurious

 

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You Rock! A FREE Mother’s Day Printable Just for You

You are loved and appreciated. This Mother’s Day, we would like to thank you for being ‘out of this world!’ We’ve made a FREE Mother’s Day printable just for you or for the mom in your life. Just print it out and display or give to your mom as a gift and show her how much you care. We’ve even included a few coloring pieces around the outside for your little ones to participate, too!