The simplest answer: you asked for it… and we wanted it for our girls, too!
We often hear from the Cultivate community, “I wish I had learned these things when I was younger—it would have saved me so much wasted time!”
I’m right there with you! The power of little-by-little progress, prioritizing relationships over achievement, and the importance of pointing your actions toward a bigger-picture vision for your life? Yes, I wish I’d learned those lessons earlier in life, too!
So, we set to work making the product we would have loved as young girls—one that would help our girls today thrive. Would you like to step behind the scenes with me today to see how the Girls Goal Planner was created? Great! Let’s do it!
As the CEO of Cultivate, I take our content development extremely seriously. I don’t often share or talk much about it, because it’s not entirely interesting to most, but words matter to me. They have the potential to change people. Combine words with images and materials and stories, and you have tools to take people on a journey from one place to another! I love combining words and images that meet women right where they are—in products, blog posts, newsletter subject lines, shop listings, and anywhere else someone experiences them. I’ll forever be honing this craft, trying my best to make the most of those ingredients for the good of others.
From a decade of Southern Weddings, this is what I love to do—and where I spend a large portion of my time at work. Many hours and days are spent on certain emails and pages of the PowerSheets®! The fact that you trust us with your goals, your dreams, and your legacies—I can’t tell you how much that means to our team, and how seriously we take that responsibility.
Our newest product took that responsibility to the next level. Grace is 8—and I thought of her the whole time we were developing the Girls Goal Planner. I know how much guiding your special girl—whether she’s your daughter, your granddaughter, your student, or just your very loved one—matters to you, because it matters to me. I want to fill her heart with goodness, encourage what makes her special, challenge her to take risks for things that matter, and nurture the beauty I see in her mind, heart, and spirit.
Also, I want to delight her! She’s been through a lot in this season—a disrupted school schedule, missing her friends (she broke down in tears last night when I mentioned one of her BFFs), occasionally distracted parents (you, too?!), and processing news of “the virus” alongside us. When I handed over an advanced copy of the Girls Goal Planner and saw the joy and hope spread across her face, joy spread across mine, too. And when she saw the stickers—YES!! She immediately dove in, no prompting from mom!
When we first dreamed up this product (two years ago!), though, we had no way of knowing we’d be launching it in the middle of a global pandemic. We’d never choose for the world to look like it does, but we’ve been saying over and over for the last few weeks how grateful we are that THIS product is launching right now.
Your girl’s planner will help show her that her best years don’t have to be perfect. Her best years—and yours—are built on character. They’re marked by her resilience. They are filled with gratitude and grace. What a gift to get to come alongside our girls and help them come through this stronger, more confident, and more focused on what matters in life!
That is what I want for her, especially now.
With much of life canceled, your girl’s Girls Goal Planner will become an even more beloved sidekick—something to help her look forward with hope to what’s ahead, and as a keepsake for this unique season. (Grace has been writing down memorable moments from her week, like Zoom calls with her class and FaceTiming with friends!) Coming from a parent or loved one, it also says to your girl, “I see you. I believe in you. I’m excited for what’s ahead for you.”
Today, I thought you might like to see a bit of what went into creating this product for your family. As I said, we take our content and teaching incredibly seriously around here, and the stakes felt even higher as we reached into the lives of younger cultivators.
The first step? Emily and I sat down with a set of PowerSheets for a long brainstorming session. We discussed and debated what parts of our signature tool should be included, and how they could be adapted for a younger audience with its own distinct needs and challenges. We talked about what kinds of teaching and activities we wanted to emphasize, based on our own reading, research, and experiences growing up. We did further reading on things like how to encourage a growth mindset, the importance of stories in growing resilience, and the worsening epidemic of childhood anxiety.
For example, according to a 2017 Pew analysis, one in five 12-to-17-year-old girls reported experiencing major depression; suicides by children age 5 to 11 have almost doubled in recent years. Parents spend an incredible 37 hours a week worrying about their children. And teens who are strongly attached to their parents and family show more overall happiness and success in life.
With statistics like these and more in mind, we split up the sections and began writing and sketching out activity pages. It was fun, though certainly different, to get ourselves into the mindset of an 8-13 girl! As we finished first drafts of content, we passed them to our designer, who also had fun tweaking the signature Cultivate look to be even more colorful and flower-filled (and pink!)—perfectly appealing to a fourth-grade girl : )
Once the bones of the planner were in place and the first activity pages completed, we reached out to a focus group of friends with girls in our target age range. With a brand-new product, especially for an audience slightly different than our usual, we knew this would be an important step. Six families (some with multiple daughters) graciously tested out the pages with their girls, sent us pictures of the completed pages, and gave us insightful and extremely helpful feedback. This step was invaluable, and we made many changes based on this group!
At the same time, we sent the first draft of the planner to a group of four child psychologists and developmental experts to read and offer feedback. Again, this was incredibly helpful! We were able to incorporate ideas based specifically on their knowledge of the developmental abilities and needs of kids in our age group.
From there, we continued tweaking the content as our designer fleshed out the design and our production team tested materials. (Many of you will be happy to see another appearance of our legacy white coil!) There were daily squeals from Team Cultivate as the design team unveiled page after adorable page.
Once the materials, design, and content were approved, Emily completed a final copy edit, as always, and we sent it to print with much excitement! Many months later, our first batch of Girls Goal Planners sits patiently on warehouse shelves, ready to wing their way to you and your special girl next week.
Friends, I hope this peek into the creation process gives you confidence and excitement as you consider one of our planners! We cannot wait to get one in your hands. For more FAQs, click here.
The Girls Goal Planner goes on sale next Wednesday, May 13th, at 10am ET. Download the Collection Guide now to prepare!