Imagine you’ve just made a few new materials for your classroom and used them for a year or two with great success. “I should sell these,” you say. “I’m sure teachers would love to use them in their classrooms.” Sound familiar? It seems like it would be so simple. Then reality sets in. “How will I let people know that I’m selling this? What should I charge? Do I have to create a business with a name and everything? What would that cost? Do I have to pay taxes?”
Faced with finding answers to these daunting questions, almost every teacher realizes that selling your own great materials takes a lot more than just having the great materials. It’s a bit less daunting now with the internet but--what if no computers existed at the time you were thinking about it? And, let’s also add, what if one of you had a toddler and the other had a baby on the way? It sounds impossible, even to me.
But my teaching partner and I had just left our school and, being jobless for the moment, we wanted to give it a whirl. While teaching together, we had found that we needed more than the traditional Montessori materials to give the students an exciting, creative and fun experience. They weren’t out there, so we made them. The new materials were still Montessori-based, using the same lessons and concepts. But as important as that was, we also wanted to free the teachers up from having to write daily math problems or sentences for grammar or creating supplemental materials for their own classrooms. We wanted to give the teachers more time to teach. So I suppose we were on a bit of a mission.
That’s why, 31 years ago, being young, naive and energetic, Judy and I found the answers to all these questions and discovered more of them on our way to creating Mandala.
Two things happen when you start a business selling your own products and people actually buy them. You begin to realize: First--you can’t just sit back and fill orders if you want to stay in business. You need to create new products at regular intervals. Second-- to do that you need to be constantly open to and searching for new ideas to use to create those products. This second part is crucial if you want to keep your business thriving. Neither of us had looked that far ahead when we originally formed Mandala. However, 31 years later, we both found that we loved to be on the lookout for new ideas. There is a real joy in finding a way to turn an idea into a material that teachers not only use in their classrooms but love to use.