Meet the multifaceted, ultra inspiring Agnes Hsu, founder of the beloved children’s craft and DIY site, hello, Wonderful. Mama of two and all-around creative force, Agnes embodies the encouraging, pro-kid’s-imagination outlook we champion. From running hello, Wonderful, to designing kids products (recently, Plaeful, a line of cool wall decals), to authoring her own children’s book, My Color is Rainbow, to starting the Rainbow Rock Project with her daughter, Alia, Agnes makes creative, joyful moments accessible to all. She’s living proof that amazing things start with your imagination.
We absolutely adore the cheerful, generous spirit of hello, Wonderful, not to mention all the imaginative projects! Tell us more about why encouraging creativity in young children is so important?
I believe all children are creative but it’s also the parent’s job to encourage and seek out that creativity. This leads to curiosity, critical-thinking skills, and imaginative minds which are traits that will benefit you in all walks of life, no matter what profession, career, or path you choose as an adult.
As lovers of rainbows, your book My Color is Rainbow became an instant favorite for us. The book’s message of love and acceptance is so important to share. Tell us more about what inspired you:
As a nation, we’ve made great strides in acceptance of race, religion and gender issues. I’m proud to live in a country that recognizes the importance of love and acceptance for all. I’m an immigrant to this country and can relate to the importance of having equal rights and opportunities.
Although we are advanced as a nation in showing our commitment to equality, I believe that there are still great strides to be made in making acceptance the norm.
I believe growth in thinking belongs to the next generation, so I am inspired to start change with our children.
A children’s book is a wonderful way to get a powerful message across and start serious conversations with kids, while keeping the mood light and playful, which children crave.
What piece of advice would you give to a parent that claims, “But, I’m not creative…”
I would say that you don’t need to be. I never considered myself a creative person. As a child, I didn’t draw, paint or have any of the tools many children have today to bloom their creative minds. What we do have now - more than ever - are tools, businesses, awareness, websites and more to help draw out creativity in all of us, not just children. There are creativity subscription boxes for kids, videos that show you how to make practically anything you want, and creative blogs and creative websites like hello, Wonderful and Pinterest brimming with ideas. There are also online drawing and tinkering classes for kids, which offer creative inspiration and tools. In addition, there are also have mindful and curated shops like Rose & Rex that help parents pick the best toys for kids for imaginative and creative play.
Let’s talk about raising your two beautiful children, Alia and Kian! Do they have similar learning styles and creative interests? How do you support their differences?
Yes they do! Alia, being the oldest, is more reserved, careful in her art and approach. It has to be “just right.” Although a main phrase in our household is
learning is not about perfection.
I once created a t-shirt for her to wear bearing that phrase when she was just 4, as she would rip up her art in frustration if it wasn’t “perfect.” To this day she is methodical about her art and likes to take her time drawing and learning new techniques about how to make things. I know that when I set up projects for her, she will need time to complete them so that she does not feel rushed.
Kian, the younger boy, is very outgoing and open to trying new things. He has less of an attention span than Alia so the creative projects on the table for him have to have “wow” appeal - like motion or messy play. He also loves to play independently with his toys (trains being his favorite) and can do so for hours. By observing this trait and his outgoing personality, we created a YouTube channel for him called “Kian’s World of Trains” where he could show off his favorite toys in a lively way, that felt comfortable for him.
Tell us what you were like as a kid! Did you have a big imagination?
Yes, but not because it was necessarily nurtured, which goes back to my previous point that I think anyone can be creative. I was a latch-key kid, my parents were divorced at a young age and my mom was a single working mom who raised 3 children by herself.
The main thing I did as a kid was go to the library. I read book after book and lost myself in other worlds and creative storytelling, which I believe did impact the imagination I have today. I still read up to 2 hours a day.
What are some of your favorite Rose & Rex toys?
We love the wooden toys from Rose & Rex that are beautifully made, sustainable and timeless. One of my children’s favorite ones are the Rainbow Building Blocks. They are brilliant in colors and can be used to build towns, bridges, dominoes, sculptures, you name it!
Now, for some fun: If you had an additional day between Saturday and Sunday, how would you spend it?
Great question! I would spend it curating a great dinner for good friends that I haven’t had time to visit for a while. I miss cooking big meals. I would involve the kids as much as I could. We’d browse our favorite Farmer’s market for ingredients and likely end up making dessert together, as that is our family’s favorite meal :) We’d splurge on some pretty, fresh flowers. In between the market and start of cooking, we’d go on a walk somewhere pretty and scenic like the city blocks downtown. We’d pop into a bookstore and get a few books, then head home to cook with music playing in the background all afternoon.
Okay, lightning round! Ready, set go:
- Favorite ice cream? Rocky Road
- Early bird or night owl? Night Owl
- Heels or sneakers? Sneakers
- The super power you would want to have is — patience - having it ALL the time
- Favorite color? (I think we know this one! You could also choose your favorite pattern!) Rainbow! But I also love pink :)
- Books or movies? Books
- Plate of French fries or slice of cake? Slice of Cake
- You have an open plane ticket—where will you go? Paris, I grew up there until age