Our fabulous Bayside biz-mamas, Tanja & Kathrin, are the founders of TK Tribe which produced the cutest friendship book you’ll ever see. These fabulous mamas, both originally from Germany, met at a German playgroup and ‘My Friendship Book’ was created after their own fond memories of popular friendship books they had as kids growing up in Germany.
Firstly, tell us a bit about each of yourselves and your kids/families.
We are both working mums with two children each in kindergarten and early primary school. Our families are bilingual, and we mainly speak German at home, but outside we speak English. We love embedding both cultures in our day-to-day family life and merging our traditions with our chosen home-country Australia. That means while we celebrate traditional German events like “Advent” during the Christmas season, we are all cheers for Australia Day.
When did you arrive in Australia and what brought you here?
Kathrin: My husband and I arrived in Australia in 2004 on a two-year work commitment. We were both keen to explore and travel the world and we chose Australia because it is a beautiful yet English-speaking country. Work was the reason we came here, but we realised quickly that Melbourne was the place where we belonged. Two years quickly turned into more than a decade and we still feel lucky to call Melbourne our home.
Tanja: As a teenager it was my dream to live in the country of kangaroos and koalas. The idea of constant sunshine, beach and surf convinced my husband quickly and when I got the opportunity to transfer from Munich to Melbourne in 2009, we were both quick to ship our household belongings down under. Since then this has become our so much-loved home and we are grateful to raise our kids in such a beautiful environment and stunning city.
How does a friendship book work?
It’s a simple concept, but it has a deeper meaning and purpose. Children will pass their friendship book among their friends and teachers and have them write a little bit about themselves, include a photo and do a drawing. Kids who get to fill out their friend’s book will also share their interests such as favourite book, animal, food, colour, and much more. More importantly, our friendship book fosters positive interactions between kids with questions like: I’m grateful for …, I am really good at …, and when I grow up I want to … . It encourages creativity with handwritten notes and drawings in a fun way and helps kids to develop a love for books and connect with their peers and teachers outside of the digital world.
Tell us about your own memories of the friendship books you had as kids.
In Germany, every primary school student in our region had a friendship book. We had plenty of fun filling them in, sharing them and reading what our friends’ favourite things were. Looking back at them now, we see the value those books brought to us personally when it came to build strong bonds with our classmates. But really the best part of these friendship books is looking at them now, 30 years later. We’ve had some great laughs and giggles reminiscing over them, bringing back the joy from our childhood days – just priceless.
What were you doing before you started the business?
Before we started TK Tribe, we both had successful careers in management consulting and were trying to balance demanding projects and tight timelines with parenthood. Which all working moms know all too well. We also feel very lucky that we found each other.
Favourite part about living in Bayside?
Living close to the beach, being able to go for a run, play or swim anytime we want is just the best – especially when coming from Germany where the closest warm sea is hundreds of miles away. Also, we are just amazed over and over again by this caring and friendly community. The people here in Melbourne are very open and welcoming to all cultures and backgrounds. It’s a fabulous place to raise kids.
What’s your fav thing about being a mum?
It’s the hardest job we’ve ever done but the early morning cuddles in bed and kisses at school drop offs and pickups are priceless.
Where do you love to hang out as a family?
We are both very outdoorsy and active families. We take advantage of all the playgrounds, skateparks, beaches and love the abundance of amazing cafes and restaurants in Bayside.
What’s the best bit about running a business?
No day is the same, the learning curve is steep, but having the opportunity to do something we truly believe in and working for something we believe will have a positive impact on the next generation is the best part of it.
What can we expect next from TK Tribe?
We are also super excited about planning our next unisex edition of the friendship book. We will be seeking input and feedback from our community of TK Tribe followers, and hopefully readers of MamamMag – who we’d love to invite to join us. We’ve been getting great feedback on our first friendship book, but now we want to hear from our new tribe on the theme and illustrations they would like to see to help us shape our next edition.
And finally, care to share with us a funny parenting story?
We all know how kids mimic their parents, but it’s truly amazing when you experience it yourself. Our 4-year-olds have recently started using incentives, just like we do with them sometimes, to get their way. Statements like “If you don’t let me eat ice cream today, I won’t give you any more hugs and kisses” or “If I can’t have this you are not my best friend anymore” make us laugh and appreciate how clever kids are – their ability to adopt your way of thinking and speaking.
Check out their gorgeous friendship books at www.tktribe.com