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Ronit Shiro shares the gift of bilingualism with children through FeppyBox

Ronit Shiro is the creator and founder of FeppyBox — a bilingual subscription box designed to immerse kids ages 3-6 in Spanish and English language learning. 

FeppyBox makes it easier for parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. With the mission to connect kids with the globe through language, in order to build a more inclusive and FEPPIER world around them, FeppyBox strives to raise the next generation of open- minded, global citizens. 

FeppyBox

FeppyBox helps parents to raise their children bilingually, in a fun way that feels more like playing than learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Sharing the gift of bilingualism with children 

FeppyBox was born out of Ronit Shiro’s passion for learning, traveling, and connecting with people. Language was the common thread that brought all these passions together. 

FeppyBox creator and founder Ronit Shiro. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

Born in Venezuela to immigrant parents, Ronit was lucky to learn and speak more than one language. At the time she did not understand the importance of bilingualism or the opportunities it would offer. Later, as an adult and mom herself, she would come to understand that bilingualism is one of the greatest gifts she could give her children. 

“In our case, being bilingual means being able to connect with grandparents and friends, but it’s also a tool that creates opportunities for the future,” said Ronit. “It connects us to other cultures. It opens doors.” 

This is where the idea for FeppyBox began to take shape. Ronit began to ask: How can we provide tools to families to make language learning fun and meaningful? How can we give kids entertaining and creative ways to learn? 

From there, the subscription box service began to take form and was given its name: FeppyBox, from combining the word haPPY in English and Spanish (FEliz), to embody all parents’ ultimate purpose: to see their kids happy. In 2020, FeppyBox launched and has been growing steadily since. 

Raising bilingual children through immersive learning

By combining learning with play, FeppyBox makes language learning fun and easy. Each FeppyBox includes stories, music, and games designed so children can learn, laugh, and live in two languages. 

“From our customers, we’re learning that you don’t have to be bilingual to raise a bilingual child, and we’re seeing that play-based learning takes some of the mystery out of bilingualism,” said Ronit. “The spark of bilingualism happens when a kid connects the content in both languages.”

FeppyBox

FeppyBox offers a variety of activities to make language learning fun and immersive for children and parents. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox)

With a variety of activities, children and parents are able to engage with language in different formats. Feppy Book offers an original story in both English and Spanish and includes exclusive access to its Audio Video Book, which provides unlimited fun learning and supports pronunciation. Each Audio Video Book can be watched in English or Spanish. 

Next, Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. Feppy Music gives children a new song with bilingual lyrics and exclusive online access to Feppy Music. Feppy Music adapts versions of traditional children’s songs introducing Merengueton, Salsa/Trap Reggaeton/Vallenato, Electro Mambo and other Latin rhythms. 

FeppyBox

Feppy Play offers a hands-on activity to encourage bilingual play-based learning. (Photo courtesy FeppyBox). 

Finally, Feppy Parents is a unique Parent Guide to support ongoing immersive learning. Every item in FeppyBox is fully bilingual, so parents don’t need to know both languages to share 

FeppyBox is a gift that allows children to connect and grow as global citizens. For bilingual families, it is also a way for family members to connect, even across great distances. 

“We are happy to learn that grandparents have bought FeppyBox for their grandchildren as a way to connect with them,” Ronit shared. “One grandparent sent us a note telling us that, even though he lives far away from his grandson, they look forward to every box and sharing what’s inside.” 

You might be interested: ‘Diary of a Future President’ empowers young Latinas to dream big 

Tip for entrepreneurs: “Believe in yourself and in your ideas” 

Ronit’s personal philosophy as an entrepreneur is to embrace the uncomfortable and continue to move forward striving for something new and better and to seek progress over perfection. 

Creating FeppyBox was a gift of love and a passion project for her, but that does not mean there were no challenges or struggles along the way. Starting out, Ronit had to wear many hats, juggling management, customer service, and delivery. Her strength through all of this was her ability to problem solve 24/7 and be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

“Everyday my team and I are uncomfortable, it means we are moving forward because we are doing something new, mastering a new process and doing something better. I truly believe in seeing the positive side of being uncomfortable. If you’re uncomfortable it means you’re discovering something new and moving your business forward,” said Ronit.

To minority women thinking of starting their own business, Ronit advises, “It is very important to believe in yourself and your ideas. We can ask for advice, but deep down we have to trust and believe in what we are creating.” 

Most importantly, she reminds aspiring entrepreneurs to seek progress over perfection and keep moving forward, even when things get uncomfortable. 

“Perfection can paralyze us, and as entrepreneurs it is important to advance, to move forward. It’s ok to pivot and to evolve.” 

spanish children's books

How these personalized Spanish children’s books are helping to raise bilingual children

Maria Victoria Sanchez is the creator and founder of Libro Magico Amarillo, a publishing company that creates personalized Spanish children’s books. Her books offer a mix of adventures and educational content that keep children engaged and reading longer, all while playing and having fun. Her books also serve as a tool for parents raising bilingual children, helping them foster a love and appreciation of Hispanic language and culture in their children. 

Spanish children's books

Maria and her son reading “Adventuras en Troya” (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez)

Rediscovering the magic of stories 

Libro Magico Amarillo officially launched in June of this year, but before that it spent 30 years simply being a dream in Maria’s mind. Creating Spanish children’s books was something she always thought of doing but procrastinated for many years, never knowing when was the right time to start. As a child, her mother instilled in her a love for reading and writing. Stories were magical and they became her greatest passion as a child. However, as she grew up, the magic spark receded in her mind. She let her dreams of telling stories fall away to a small corner of her mind where she would think of the idea from time to time but never act on her dream. 

Before Maria would make her book business a reality, she first spent a good portion of her professional life having a successful career in the corporate world. Born in General Roca, Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentina, Maria earned her degree in law. After graduating from law school in Argentina, she then came to the U.S. to do her Masters at Harvard Law School. 

“I worked for big names in the corporate world including Greenberg Traurig, JP Morgan, and Mastercard. I got to live in different countries and travel extensively. But with the arrival of my two children, I realized that I was no longer interested in corporate life or business trips,” says Maria. 

With her priorities shifted, Maria did some soul-searching to figure out what she wanted to do next with her career. She was searching for the magic spark. She soon found it in one of her earliest loves: stories. Maria realized that happiness for her also meant doing things that had a social impact. Libro Magico Amarillo would provide her with the platform to do just that. 

Starting from zero

Maria officially began working on making her dream a reality a year ago. At the time she had no knowledge of the industry, e-commerce, or digital marketing. It was completely new territory.

Maria in her office working on her latest projects (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez).

“I had to start from zero,” she says, “but I decided that it was now or never and that I did not want to die without having tried to build my own business venture.”

Over the next year, Maria met with illustrators, printers, writers, and delved deep into the amazing world of book publishing. She faced some obstacles along the way, from not having access to lines of credit or a name in the industry to other entry barriers such as the high cost of marketing and having to make tough choices because of limited funds. Then of course there was the Covid-19 pandemic which threatened to halt the process and launch of Maria’s dream venture. 

“The pandemic was not going to stop me,” says Maria. “It has certainly created hiccups, but also it has proven to be an opportunity for connection.” 

Launched on June 6, 2020–what would have been the birthday of Maria’s late mother–Maria’s personalized Spanish children’s books have served as a bridge to connect family and friends during the pandemic. Family members can gather together virtually to read together and share stories, all while helping to foster a child’s bilingual education and growth. 

Sharing the magic with others 

Maria’s driving force through the struggles was her love for books and her desire to make an impact. One of the ways she’s using her platform to help others is by donating a percentage of all new profits to JAFCO, an orphanage that is doing great work for children. The other main area of impact for Maria is in education and sharing the magic of stories with others while also helping parents raise bilingual children and foster an appreciation for Hispanic language and culture. 

bilingual children

Maria Victoria Sanchez, sharing her love of stories with her daughter. (Photo courtesy Maria Victoria Sanchez).

“As a mom, immigrant, raising bilingual children, I bring a new angle to children’s books, focusing on the Spanish language, with stories thought and written in Spanish and not just translated by AI,” says Maria. 

Her books bring Hispanic values and culture to bilingual children and act as an educational tool for parents who want to instill a love and appreciation for their home culture in their children. 

Libro Magico Amarillo’s books keep children engaged and by making the children themselves the protagonists of the stories. The personalized Spanish children’s books allow parents to customize the books with their child’s names and each book is printed on demand so that each child receives a carefully designed adventure personalized just for them! 

The books also cover a variety of topics including history and geography, which allows children to learn as they play. 

Recently, one young reader shared a video with Maria of her reading experience. In the video, the 3 year-old and her mom were reading Adventuras en Troya together for the fourth time and she was so excited and engaged, asking questions about the story. 

“The little one was asking her mom, “Tell me about Menelao!!!” He was the King who was married to Elena, who was kidnapped by Paris, giving origin to the Trojan war. That just made my day,” says Maria. 

spanish children's books

Libro Magico Amarillo’s current Spanish children’s books

Most 3 year-olds are not asking about characters from ancient Greek stories, which just shows the amazing power of reading and storytelling. Libro Magico Amarillo’s books immerse children in fun, educational stories and take them on adventures all over the world–literally, since the books characters are personalized based on the child. 

You might be interested: How MiLegasi’s founder deals with resilience in children during COVID-19

Finally, Maria is also using her platform to uplift other entrepreneurs. During her journey, she had many supportive people to uplift her along the way and she wants to pay it forward. 

“I want to be an advocate for the need to provide more support to local business owners and entrepreneurs who do not have access to the same loans or health insurance as others.” 

Maria knows how beneficial it is to have a strong support system and mentors when starting out. To aspiring entrepreneurs she says, “First, count on me, give me a call! I’m happy to pay it forward. Additionally there are a lot of women networks or alliances of fantastic ladies who are doing the same or have done it before and want to help you. Second, believe in yourself. The sky is your limit. Do not let them tell you otherwise. Third, think of how you want to be remembered. I want to be remembered as someone who was not afraid of a challenge or giving a shot to impossible dreams.”