Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Robyn Parets, the founder and CEO of Pretzel Kids. Let’s see what she is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, Robyn! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Pretzel Kids?
Robyn: Happy to be with you, Spiffy! At Pretzel Kids, our mission is to offer yoga and mindfulness classes to children ages three to 16. When children start practicing yoga and mindfulness at a young age, they learn invaluable social and emotional skills that they can carry throughout their lives. They also learn to value their unique skills and feel comfortable in their bodies.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Robyn: I started Pretzel Kids back in 2005. At that time, it was an after-school program under the umbrella of my former yoga studio. I knew that yoga was beneficial to children and saw this through my own kids, then ages six and nine. Children experience stress just like adults, yet they often don't know how to articulate what they are feeling. When I started Pretzel Kids classes, I could see first-hand that our program was helping so many kids—in a way that is fun! That motivated me to keep going, and in 2016, the time was right to launch Pretzel Kids as its own company!
Spiffy: How would you say you all are working towards a more equitable world?
Robyn: We believe all children have the right to live a healthy life. At Pretzel Kids, we work with schools all over the U.S., as well as with other organizations, to deliver our classes. We also have a diverse group of licensed instructors, and in this way can reflect the kids we serve.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community or audience?
Robyn: We recently moved into NYC and are offering classes in schools and neighborhoods where some kids wouldn't ordinarily have access to yoga and mindfulness. The schools have loved the classes so much that we are now in talks to offer similar yoga and mindfulness programs for the teaching staff!
Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Robyn: Right before the pandemic, we launched our new web platform. Our goal was to offer a marketplace for parents to find classes wherever they lived. Then the pandemic hit and suddenly there were no classes. Once things reopened, we realized how hard it would be to create a marketplace given the current times. At the same time, we were getting high demand directly from schools for our social emotional learning and yoga programs. Kids were stressed out, and they were looking for programs like ours. As such, we're revamping our site to reflect our renewed focus on serving schools and camps. It was an expensive “failure” as we invested a lot into a parent-centric marketplace. However, this helped us land on where we could have the biggest impact!
Spiffy: Terrific! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Robyn: As I illustrated previously, failure can be a good thing. We have now discovered our niche and where we can serve most effectively: in schools, camps, and other organizations. My teachers are also happy as I've been able to hire them directly to teach in the schools we contract with. At the same time, we provide our instructors with all the branding, marketing, and teaching resources they need in order to run successful classes on their own and in their own communities. This allows us to reach more children nationwide and around the globe. Our motto is: “Spreading Joy from Head to Toes, It All Begins in Pretzel Pose.” Our growing teacher and school network allows us to do this, and we are excited for our expansion!
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Robyn—it’s been an honor!
Robyn Parets is the founder and CEO of Pretzel Kids. She believes everyone should have at least three careers and always follow their passion. Before launching my own business, she was a newspaper reporter and then a yoga teacher. Yet, entrepreneurship was her calling. Today, she spends her free time kayaking, renovating her house with flea market finds, teaching yoga and meditation, taking photos of faraway lands, and hanging out with her three adult sons, two dogs, and one husband. You can learn more about her long and windy road here. (Nominated by Charlotte Michailidis of Parenthood Ventures. First published on the Ladderworks website on November 8, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.