My lightbulb moment: The HappySelf Journal founder Francesca Geens, reveals the inspiration behind her wellness company

  • Francesca Geens, 46, who lives in Kent, created the HappySelf Journal in 2017
  • Inspiration came from her children writing daily journals and gratitude lists
  • The HappySelf Journal have now been distributed to thousands of children  

Francesca Geens, 46, created the HappySelf Journal, a daily wellness journal for children, in 2017. They are now sold in more than 150 countries. She lives in Kent with her husband, Nazz, their daughter, 15, and son, 11.

Even when I was running a tech consultancy, I was a pen-and-paper person. I’d encourage clients to use a paper planner to map out goals and they liked it.

We started applying some of these things at home with our children, sharing our top three things of the day at dinner. And I saw a shift with everybody’s ability to be more positive and not let problems overwhelm them.

Francesca Geens, 46, (pictured) who lives in Kent, created the HappySelf Journal, a daily wellness journal for children, in 2017

I noticed the positive impact on them of writing daily journals, having reduced screen-time and making gratitude lists. I wondered why we didn’t help children learn these skills earlier in life. So, in 2017, I set out to make something that incorporates habits science shows leads to a happier life.

At that stage, it was a passion project I funded myself rather than a business. I worked with designers on the page layouts and found a printer. In my spare time, I also completed a course at the University of California, Berkeley, on the science of happiness, and spoke to experts in child psychology as well as teachers.

The result is a simple daily journal that can be completed in a few minutes. It’s illustrated, there’s a quote of the day, and free space to doodle or write, plus checklists.

The first journal was tested on dozens of children, aged six to 12. The feedback was that they slept better after processing the day and ending it on a positive note.

Open up:

In August 2018, I launched an online shop to sell the journal (which costs £19.90) and an Instagram account. It snowballed. Within a few months, London department store Liberty emailed to ask to stock them.

By 2019, with sales going through the roof, I knew I had a full-time career. I closed the tech consultancy and my husband, an IT consultant, joined me. We’ve since launched a teen edition and, most recently, an early years edition for ages three to five. I’ve also started a podcast, The Curious Parent.

The journals have been so important in lockdown, during which our children’s mental well-being has suffered. In July 2020, we received funding from Innovate UK to distribute thousands to schools for children who are eligible for free school meals. I still do the journal with my children each night. It’s a great way to end the day. 

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