Di James (pictured, centre) is Activate28’s Changemaker of the Month for May.

Di is the founder of embrace virtues, a socially conscious organisation based near Newcastle, Australia. Established in 2011, embrace virtues makes beautiful products for parenting such as Baby’s First Year gift set (a gorgeous present to give to new parents) and Tools For Fathering CD (great for first-time dads). The company is now branching out into other areas of children’s character education.

I’ve known Di for a few years — we actually started our  businesses around the same time. In fact, I was at her house the day their first internet order came through! Since I know how much effort goes on behind-the-scenes, I’m especially excited to showcase Di’s work here. 

Di photo 21. What is your role as changemaker?

As the founder and director of Embrace Virtues Pty Ltd, I oversee the design, production and marketing gifts and resources for parents and educators. My role also involves keeping alive our vision of helping children develop innate character strengths, such as generosity, respect, courtesy, creativity and thankfulness.

My daughter, Karie (pictured on the right in the photo above), and my husband, Bryson, are also directors — I love having them both involved in this project that is so close to my heart.

On the team we also have Louie Hahn as photographer and designer (pictured on the left in the photo at the top) and Carli Hyland as illustrator..

2. What change are you hoping to make in the world?

Embrace thankfulness

I hope to contribute to a future of peace, love, integrity and harmony for our society. Since our children will determine the quality of our future, I think it is particularly important that we ensure that all children have access to character education. It is essential that parents and educators are skilled to both model and provide this character education.

My intention with this work is that we create a society where poverty, injustice, human slavery, abuse of all kinds, and prejudice are not tolerated, and where we may trust leaders of vision and integrity.

3. What prompted you to start embrace virtues?

Embrace virtue cards 2About 25 years ago, I was fortunate to encounter the work of Linda and Dan Popov and Virtues Project International. As an educator and parent I applied the techniques and recognised that this was a remarkable, even miraculous, tool to grow great kids with strong characters.

I also realised that the sooner we start this educative process the better which is why much of our work is aimed at families with a new baby or young child. Of course, character education is for everyone and an important part of our work is training teachers and parents so that they are able to weave it into their daily routines to create more peaceful and harmonious homes and schools.

4. What successes have you seen so far?

Creativity The large character strength cards (such as the one for ‘creativity’ in this photo) are a wonderful resource for both parents and educators. I’m very proud of them.

The greatest success is how quickly our work has spread. Our company has been operating for three years and our products are already being used in eight different countries. Of course, it is always wonderful to receive all the positive and unsolicited feedback from parents and educators.

We also have a number of retail outlets in Newcastle who sell our products. It’s exciting to see new people who would like to market our products coming to us!

5. What are some challenges you face?

First-Year-Gift-Set-Lifestyle-2My greatest challenge is getting the business’ turnover to the point where I can employ specialists to do some of the work for me! I want to be freed up so I can develop new products and initiatives that further support parents and educators. I also want more time to focus on writing which is another love of mine because there is so much to be said about character education.

Developing prototypes of new products is where my passion lies. It’s also a great challenge (and a big frustration) that I can’t do more of it.

6. What’s new for embrace virtues that you would like to share with us?

Baby's First Year letter

embrace virtues is about to launch a new and timely project called ‘Home Based Entrepreneurs’ program.  

I’m excited because this program enables entrepreneurs to build their own home based business by facilitating workshops while marketing the embrace virtues product range. It’s perfect for people who want to become advocates, educators and facilitators of virtues based work while maintaining a healthy balance between life, family and income generation.

7. What do you plan to spend your Donate28 money on?

I’m undertaking some courses that will help me develop my skills – including a blogging for business course —  and I’d love to put my Donate28 money towards that!

Discover more

For more information on Embrace Virtues and to contact Di James:

Follow on Facebook: www.facebook.com/EmbraceVirtues