Jumana Al Darwish
Founder x Girl Boss
Jumana Al Darwish, Founder of The Happy Studio and Co-Founder of The Happy Box. She is dubbed as the creative, ‘out of the box’ member of the team, brings an international perspective as the daughter of a UN diplomat. Inspired by the work of her father, who changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children all over the world, she grew up around the family values. The nature of her father’s job meant that at an early age, Jumana understood the meaning of quality over quantity, and learnt to value her time with her parents.
With over 10 years of experience in the public and nonprofit sectors, Jumana’s skills as a philanthropist, strategist and fundraiser seemed like the perfect fit working as the Head of Corporate Planning and Development at Dubai Cares. Following the birth of her daughter Ayla, she realized she wasn’t spending quality time with her daughter and wanted to change that.
It was during a family holiday to New York for New Years 2014 that Jumana decided to change this and over a life-altering brunch with Linda, The Happy Box was born. Helping other families achieve the same thing would become Linda’s and Jumana’s passion.
Happiness to Jumana is experiencing precious, quality moments with loved ones, whether family or friends. The pursuit of happiness, she believes, is in creating memories that last. In fact, she lives religiously by the immortal words of the Persian poet Omar Khayyam: “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
It is this philosophy that has always driven the 30-something Jordanian, and even more so after the birth of her daughter, Ayla. Today, young Ayla is a bundle of energy, who keeps Jumana on her toes. Because of Ayla, Jumana turned her entire world upside down.
Linda Al Darwish
Chief Educational Officer
Linda Al Darwish, Co-Founder of The Happy Box and the educator in the dynamic duo, demonstrates over 30 years of educational experience and works as a Montessori educator in the United States of America, embracing the philosophies of the educational concept. Having grown up with parents who made a career out of education, she is passionate about injecting fun into learning – a prerequisite for every activity that’s tucked into The Happy Box, every month.
Growing up with a mother who was a teacher, Linda fondly remembers working on crafts and preparing projects for her mother’s classes, which served as an inspiration to the creation of The Happy Box.
As a speech pathologist, Linda has a wide variety of experience; from working for the Cerebral Palsy Association with adults as a communication instructor, to teaching preschool and elementary students from all backgrounds as well as teaching IT classes for preschoolers. Today, Linda is especially excited about teaching maths, science and engineering to younger girls, to help change a predominantly male-orientated area.
In 1984, Linda married Jumana’s older brother, when Jumana was a tiny three-year-old, and their relationship has been growing ever since. Linda considers herself a second mother to Jumana, and Jumana describes Linda as a “best friend” and a person she looks up to.
“She’s a Martha Stewart with a heart of gold,” says Jumana of her sister-in-law. A creative soul, who spends her down time creating something; whether it is baking, or knitting or even a bit of creative DIY with her husband.
Chief Confetti Princess
In the summer of 2011, Ayla Nouri was born to Jumana and Suhail, turning their worlds upside down and bringing more beauty and love into their lives than they ever imagined possible. It is because of Ayla that Jumana was driven to create The Happy Box - a family-orientated initiative that would allow her quality time with her daughter.
Ayla is as involved in The Happy Box as any employee, happy to test drive every single activity and make sure fun and laughter is a constant presence both among The Happy Team and in the Happy Studio .
“I can involve Ayla in almost all aspects of the business, allowing me to be present in her day to day life and activities and interests and adventure, which is exactly what I wanted,” says Jumana, who credits Ayla as the main inspiration behind The Happy Box. “I’m lucky as a working mom in that I can include my daughter in my work. She loves to help me package The Happy Box, she attends weekend fairs and bazaars with me and gets to play in the outdoors while I tell people about the beauty of The Happy Box, she test drives our projects and activities and she takes her job so seriously as a Happy Box employee.”
In fact, Ayla has become so engrossed in the concept of “happiness” that she has taken to regularly sharing with her mother, Jumana, all the little things in life that make her happy, from doughnuts covered in sprinkles to unicorns made of glitter. In fact, a book inspired by Ayla and what makes her happy is currently in the pipeline, because happiness, truly, is the right of every child.