Empowering Joy: Jumana Al Darwish’s Decade-Long Journey with The Happy Box Sparks Social Change Across KSA and Beyond

Jumana Al Darwish

In a decade defined by the relentless pursuit of happiness, Jumana Al Darwish has orchestrated an extraordinary symphony of joy through her brainchild, The Happy Box. As this pioneering venture embarks on its remarkable milestone journey, it’s not merely a celebration of business; it’s a jubilant ode to a decade of fostering social impact and change in the KSA.

Yet, The Happy Box transcends being just a business venture; it’s a beacon of empowerment. Jumana’s vision extends beyond profit margins; it uplifts marginalized artisans, particularly women, through up-skilling programs. With eighty percent of the workforce comprising women from low-income backgrounds, The Happy Box crafts not only artisanal wonders but also opportunities for self-sufficiency and empowerment, which makes her a pioneer in her field in Saudi Arabia.

The impact of The Happy Box extends far beyond the GCC region. Through its CSR arm, Happy Hearts Global, educational kits have been gifted to children in need across eleven countries, collaborating with esteemed organizations like UNICEF, UNHCR, and Save the Children. It’s a testament to Jumana’s unwavering commitment to leveraging entrepreneurship for the greater good.

As The Happy Box marks its tenth year of spreading joy, it’s more than a celebration; it’s a call to action. Jumana’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of entrepreneurship, inviting others to join in collective growth and impact. We sit down with the inspiring entrepreneur and find out exactly what makes her tick.

“AS THE HAPPY BOX MARKS ITS TENTH YEAR OF SPREADING JOY, ITS MORE THAN A CELEBRATION… ITS A CALL TO ACTION!“

How would you describe your decade of The Happy Box?

Over the past decade, The Happy Box has been a journey marked by significant growth, that has combined both challenges and achievements, as well as development and innovation. From its inception as a concept that was a direct result of a dream to helping it come to life and become a recognized brand, each year has brought new learnings and opportunities for development.

Celebrating a decade of happiness is truly fulfilling, as it’s not just about reaching milestones, but also about embracing the journey of real learning and evolution.

Each year has brought new growth opportunities, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to see our vision evolve and innovate over time, both in the lives of families we serve and in the broader community.

From humble beginnings to becoming a recognized brand, it’s been a decade of witnessing our dream come to life, grow and evolve through dedication and commitment, and that journey – that dictates we are here to spread joy and foster creativity – is something to cherish and celebrate.

Jumana Al Darwish
What has been your biggest challenge on your journey?

One of the biggest challenges we faced on our journey was introducing a novel concept in a conservative market like the GCC region. Convincing stakeholders of the value and potential impact of The Happy Box required persistent effort and strategic communication. Additionally, scaling our operations while maintaining quality standards presented logistical hurdles that demanded careful navigation and resource management.

The secret here is that I refuse to look at challenges as hurdles. Instead, they are opportunities for innovation; a challenge simply means we have to come up with a way to do it better. Challenges are to be expected in normal business practices; they are what help a business remain relevant.

What has been your biggest milestone?

Our journey has been marked by numerous milestones, each contributing to the growth and success of The Happy Box. However, perhaps the most significant milestone is the culmination of reaching ten years in business. For someone with no business background, transitioning from government and philanthropy to entrepreneurship was a bold leap of faith. Sustaining the company for a decade is a testament to resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to our mission.

Every day has brought its own set of goals achieved, each one contributing to the larger narrative of our journey. Watching The Happy Box evolve over the years alongside my daughter, Ayla, has been particularly meaningful. She is the original Happy Box, and as she grew, so did the brand.

Our loyal staff, who have been with us for the entirety of this journey, are an integral part of our success story. Together, we’ve navigated challenges, celebrated successes, and grown as a team, forming the backbone of The Happy Box’s enduring legacy.

“SUCCESS ISIN’T JUST ABOUT PROFIT… ITS ABOUT DELIVERING AN EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE AND STAYING CUSTOMER CENTRIC!“

If you had any advice for yourself ahead of starting The Happy Box, what would that be?

Reflecting on the journey of starting The Happy Box, if I could advise my past self, it would be to stay steadfast in our core mission and values amidst the inevitable challenges and uncertainties of entrepreneurship.

Embracing failures as opportunities for growth and resilience in the face of setbacks would be crucial.

Additionally, prioritizing the building of a strong team and fostering strategic partnerships from the outset would have accelerated our growth and impact.

Above all, it’s essential to remain true to our mandate and stay focused on the ultimate goal. Success isn’t just about profit; it’s about delivering an exceptional experience and staying customer-centric.

It’s about staying grounded in the brand’s identity and not being swayed by external pressures. By prioritizing the quality of the experience we provide,

we ensure that every interaction with The Happy Box leaves a lasting impression and reinforces our commitment to our mission.

What do you think makes The Happy Box special?

The Happy Box stands out due to its unique blend of creativity, quality, and community engagement. Our meticulous curation of experiences tailored to foster holistic child development sets us apart in the market.

Each product is thoughtfully designed to not only entertain but also educate and inspire young minds, promoting cognitive, emotional, and social growth in children.

We take great care in selecting activities and materials that stimulate creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, ensuring that every box is a treasure trove of enriching experiences.

Moreover, our commitment to social impact through initiatives like Happy Hearts Global adds depth and meaning to our brand. By partnering with organizations dedicated to children’s welfare, we extend our reach beyond mere entertainment, making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.

This purpose-driven approach resonates deeply with our customers, who value businesses that prioritize making a positive impact on society.

Through Happy Hearts Global and similar initiatives, we not only spread happiness but also contribute to building a brighter future for children around the world.

How do you think you’ve evolved as a female entrepreneur?

As a female entrepreneur, I’ve grown in terms of confidence, adaptability, and leadership. I’ve learned to navigate the challenges of the business world with resilience and grace, leveraging my strengths to drive positive change.

Moreover, I’ve become more adept at advocating for gender equality and creating opportunities for women in entrepreneurship and tech, aligning with my commitment to diversity and inclusion.

For me, every day is a learning experience. I’ve developed a resilience that allows me to face challenges head-on and emerge stronger. My leadership style has evolved to be more empathetic and human-centered.

I’ve learned to respond to situations with greater understanding and compassion, qualities that have strengthened my connections with my team and stakeholders.

Compared to ten years ago, I now take a more macro perspective, focusing on the bigger picture and long-term growth and sustainability.

While I used to be very focused on the details, I now prioritize strategic thinking and decision-making that aligns with our overarching goals.

This shift in mindset has enabled me to steer the company towards greater success and impact, while remaining true to our core values

How would you like to see the next 10 years unfold?

In the next decade, I envision The Happy Box expanding its impact and reach globally, while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and innovation. I hope to see continued growth in our offerings, partnerships and philanthropic initiatives, further solidifying our position as a leader in the market. Additionally, I aspire to inspire and empower the next generation of female entrepreneurs, fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship and tech.

Expanding the brand globally is definitely part of the plan, but I’m inclined towards organic growth rather than rapid expansion. The Happy Box and Happy Studio are family-led businesses, self-funded, and deeply committed to making a meaningful difference in the world. As I envision the future, I see the Happy Box and Happy Studio growing on a global scale, but with a strong emphasis on our charitable initiatives, particularly Happy Hearts.

As I mature, I’m increasingly drawn to expanding the charitable arm of our business. Happiness, to me, is not just about personal fulfillment but also about supporting those less fortunate. It’s essential that this aspect of the Happy Box shines through, as we continue to prioritize making a positive impact in the lives of others.

Less is more or more is more?

When it comes to our approach, I believe in the mantra “more is more.” Boldness and innovation are at the heart of everything we do. We strive to stand out, make waves, and push boundaries. For us, it’s about making a significant impact and leaving a lasting impression. We’re not afraid to take chances and risks, always pushing the envelope to create something extraordinary. While balance is important, we lean towards abundance, embracing creativity and daring to be a little on the edge. After all, it’s the risks we take that lead to the most memorable and impactful outcomes.

What is style to you?

To me, style encompasses coherence, elegance, and authenticity. It extends beyond mere fashion or aesthetics, encapsulating how one presents oneself with confidence and individuality. Whether in personal appearance or professional demeanor, style involves deliberate choices that resonate with one’s values and aspirations, leaving a lasting impression rooted in authenticity.

My approach to style reflects two personas: professionally, I gravitate towards a monochrome palette, projecting a sleek and polished image. However, on a personal level, I embrace a mix-and-match approach, infusing color and playfulness into my wardrobe. I enjoy experimenting with different styles, often venturing into edgy territory. My style is fluid, akin to art in motion, reflecting the various facets of my personality. Depending on the occasion, I seamlessly transition between these two sides, allowing my style to mirror the hats I wear on any given day. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of both my professional demeanor and my personal flair.

What is authenticity to you?

Authenticity, for me, is the bedrock of integrity and trustworthiness. It’s the unwavering commitment to staying true to oneself, one’s values, and one’s principles, even in the face of adversity or temptation to compromise. Genuine authenticity is reflected in transparent communication, consistent actions, and sincere interactions, fostering deep connections and meaningful relationships. It serves as the cornerstone upon which lasting success and fulfillment are built, both personally and professionally.

Remaining authentic means staying aligned with your values, beliefs, and everything that holds significance to you. I have an authenticity radar that guides me, reminding me to stay true to my core values and principles. It’s about standing firm, not tolerating insincerity, and always remaining genuine to myself.