When creative mind Suz Somersall, decided to try to increase the percentage of female engineers in this world, Kirakira was born. Along with a few hired interns, Suz has worked to relieve a certain stigma and break stereotypes by teaching young school girls the concepts of mechanical engineering, using interactive and creative methods.
Share that moment when the light bulb went off. What sparked that original objective?
Sitting with our KiraKira interns at UVA's Engineering Lab trying to learn Solidworks with tutorials teaching us how to make wrenches. I watched our interns lose interest and realizing there had to be a creative, innovative alternative!
Did you know only 7% of mechanical engineers are female? Staggering, we are aware! We have to be creative about reaching women at an early age through innovative avenues. We have found teaching engineering concepts through art and problem solving the design process engages a wider audience of girls and young women.
created at kirakira
What are your top three active and creative tips to starting a successful business and keeping your business afloat?
- Tip 1: Dealing with an emotional issue like gender inequality, we have to take both compliments and critique seriously. Listen to what your cheerleaders love and try to do more of it! Conversely, think about what your critics are saying and why are they misunderstanding? Can you communicate more efficiently your ideas to them? We take every voice seriously and try to listen and iterate as much as we can to move forward efficiently.
- Tip 2: Know your "why" (love Simon Sinek!). Starting with a clear purpose will drive your business, shape your decision making and unite your team. Your why can keep you on track when the work gets tough and knowing that you are not just working for the money can give you a sense of purpose that can help sustain you through the tough times. For us, our "why" is because we want to teach, empower and inspire girls and women. It is so much bigger than just us.
- Tip 3: Be true to yourself! Your customer/client will eventually see through insincerity, and it is just exhausting to try to portray something you are not. You are wonderful and unique, and you have qualities and quirks that no one else has. You bring something to the table that no one else can. YOU! Own that and be yourself!
Starting a business can take a toll on your mental and physical wellbeing. How do you stay inspired and motivated to be and do your best?
Make sure you exercise, sleep and doing fun activities with your team outside of the office.
one of the designs made at kirakira
Share two strong aspects of your business that support your students.
- We work with students of all ages, elementary, middle school, high school, and college. This age range helps us to understand the trajectory of the young women we are engaging in our program.
- Our online classes are fun! By the end of the lesson, you have finished a complete design. It is a wonderful sense of accomplishment.