Tinkertime is the brain-child of Naomi Young and, at its core, it’s a children’s entertainment brand that embraces the core concepts of STEM.
Led by female protagonist, Nay Nay, it also features a YouTube channel along with music and videos airing on ABC Kids. Nay Nay also delights large crowds of audiences performing live shows across Australia.
For Naomi, Tinkertime is all about adventure, pulling things apart, experimenting and being unafraid to make mistakes. her music videos feature children of various ages, cultures and abilities and often feature Australian sign language.
Naomi told SheHacksNews she noticed a gap in the kid’s market for 3-7 year olds, whose only option is either The Wiggles or stars like Katy Perry.
“Pop icons are a lot of fun for young kids, but often the content they are promoting is often inappropriate,” Naomi said.
“So in Nay Nay, we’re creating a superstar; a strong female, wearing strong costumes (steampunk inspired), who loves to sing and dance, who loves to tinker, loves to think outside the square and is encouraging kids to be brave and have individual and original thoughts.”
“We live in a world that needs both men and women to be thinking creatively about solutions and leadership. I hope to build a brand that encourages that from the ground up. Kids are natural tinkerers, they love building sandcastles, opening things up, and they embrace activities that foster their imaginative play. Tinkertime merely builds on the natural curiosity of kids.”
The idea for Tinkertime came about when Naomi was working on the ABC TV show ‘Giggle and Hoot’ as ‘Hootabelle’. She took her initial concept to ABC Kids and they loved her songs, signing up Naomi’s first album ‘Hey Hey Let’s Play.
“But the bigger picture, Tinkertime, was always the main goal. I created a music video for Bubble Pop, my most popular song in Australia and that video was essentially a proof of concept for Tinkertime as it features Nay Nay (steampunk’d up!) and several tinkering kids, all having fun and playing with bubbles,” Naomi said.
“I worked very hard with some advisors to create a larger TV show for Tinkertime that is currently in development. I’ve also started a YouTube channel where I upload weekly tinkering videos for kids, which has been received really well so far.”
But the road hasn’t always been easy and, as any entrepreneur knows, every business faces its fair share of obstacles.
- “Steampunk? It’s not very colourful!” Some people were very hard to convince that kids would respond to content that wasn’t highly saturated in primary colours. The Tinkertime brand is very colourful, but works in a different colour palette to your usual kids shows. I’ve realised that kids adore metallics, essentially, it’s ‘shiny things’. They also love functionality. It doesn’t matter how many times you hand your child a plastic ‘phone’, or toys that recreate adult items – keys, cooking utensils, computers – the child always wants to play with the real deal.
- Funding, funding and funding! TV and video content is expensive to make and funding for children’s TV is hard to come by. Australian content creators are trying to compete on an international level with our shows, yet without the proper funding it can be very difficult. It can also be very slow process to acquire funding, so I often find myself banging on doors with ideas that are “hot topic” or ahead of the game, and by the time I secure funding, someone else overseas has already ‘done it’.
- Perseverance… ask anyone creating a small business and the absolute most important thing is persevering. It takes time to build momentum. It takes courage to maintain an idea that you believe in and to convince others that your idea is the right one. It takes guts to sustain your project when things have taken months or years longer than you thought it would. But stay on track.. you can do! I can do it too!
Naomi plans to work on increasing financial support for Tinkertime and keep making great content for kids. She’s using the analytics and feedback on the content to ensure it truly suits the interests and needs of children.
“I’ll also work with other influencers and companies to encourage kids to be curious and to tinker with ideas. Also to bring other characters into the Tinkertime brand to create a more diverse cast of heroes for kids. I’d also like to support other women in the tech and media industries so our ideas are growing and our stories are being heard. And, to love and have fun with my husband and children, who are the absolute best part of me and so supportive in my endeavours,” Naomi said.
If Naomi could give any advice to women starting up a new business?
“Be fearless in your approach. Be unapologetic about the way you approach your ideas. As women are currently the less heard voice in the tech industry it is likely that you will approach ideas or problems in a manner that hasn’t been tried before,” Naomi said.
“The ‘We do things this way,’ will often not reflect your approach, but you need to stay true to your instincts. This is the reason why we need both female and male minds in tech and leadership roles, because we need varied approaches to solutions.”