Interview with Entrepreneur Caryn Antonini & Early Lingo Giveaway
Last week I had the chance to meet with Caryn Antonini, creator of the award winning foreign language learning tool Early Lingo. The Early Lingo series is the first of its kind offering a solid foundation in teaching foreign languages to young children. Caryn, a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Languages and Linguistics uses her knowledge and her experience as a mother to create a fun approach to learning. She wants to give every child, as well as her own, the advantage of learning a foreign language.
Stephanie Elie: Tell us about Early Lingo.
Caryn Antonini: Early Lingo is a children’s foreign language DVD series for ages 6months up to age six, and in a school setting up to the age of nine. We have French, Spanish, English and Mandarin and Italian will be out within the next ten days.
SE: What did you do prior to launching Early Lingo?
CA: I had a gift business for about 10 years that was primarily for the entertainment industry and real estate and realtors when the market was doing well. I had the idea 13 years ago but put it on the backburner for a bit. Then a few years ago I was on vacation with my husband and some friends and one of them asked why I wasn’t doing my language series. So I woke up the next morning and thought why aren’t I? so I decided to start working on it.
SE: What was the driving force behind leaving a career and launching your own business?
CA: I work really quickly and I don’t need structure or someone looking over my shoulder. I knew that I wasn’t going to move up quickly (in my previous career) so I decided to look at other options. I knew I loved shopping and had a knack for putting gifts together and that’s when I started the gift business. Then it just ran its course and I realized I had enough of it. And I thought I wanted to do something really meaningful and that’s when I started Early Lingo.
SE: What kind of obstacles did you face during the launch of your business?
CA: Getting the DVD’s into the stores was the most challenging; I thought it was going to be easy. It’s a lot of phone calls and a lot of follow up. Primarily with a lot of the stores and this country in general we don’t focus on teaching foreign language at a young age.
SE: What were the first steps you took to get your product out in the market?
CA: I had access to an online press book and contacted all the media. And I pretty much called everyone I know and really just by word of mouth. I would speak with friends and moms. I recently hired a social media team to help me promote the products on Facebook and Twitter.
SE: What advantages do you feel kids gain by learning a foreign language?
CA: Down the line the kids will have a huge advantage knowing a foreign language. Learning a second language at a young age allows you to store the language in the same area of the brain as your native (English) tongue. So it’s not like they will have to think about it, its just there, like second nature. It broadens their minds and increases cultural awareness.
SE: How would you describe your ideal workday?
CA: To be able to get up to work from 8 to 6pm and really have that stretch of time but that’s not practical, I have a son and I work from home. But I don’t want to go to an office and want to be there for my child at home, that’s really important to me. He takes great naps so I get a lot done during then.
SE: What do you do for “me” time?
CA: I go hiking with my dog or even go and get my nails done. Sometimes at night I just like to read and tune everything else out. The best is just hiking with my dog, I feel so much better afterwards.
SE: Do you have a favorite tech tool?
CA: I love my iPad – I can do presentations, play video clips and access my websites. When at trade shows I can charge people's credit cards from the iPad so I don’t have to lug my computer around.
Early Lingo has won two awards, one from PTPA Media and the other from Dr. toy for Best Summer Vacation Children’s Product Winner.