Business Women Who Lead

Wonderkind Wants to Remind us of the Importance of Gifting

[pictured from left: Tara Cochrane and Shawna Pereira]

This Toronto-based company celebrates Canadian women all while making it easier for you to give gifts.

Getting into Wonderkind Inc.’s studio, nestled in a building in Toronto’s East End, is like an adventure out of a fairytale.

It’s best to have Tara Cochrane or Shawna Pereira — Wonderkind’s co-founders — as convoy to navigate you through the maze of hallways stretching in every direction, and finally to Wonderkind’s door. Confusing in a magical sort of way — and all ultimately worth it once you enter the space, which is an airy room reminiscent of a luxe treehouse.

Wonderkind is a gifting service that allows you to send a loved one or yourself a box of items catered to the receiver’s personality, which Wonderkind learns through a short and beautifully-designed quiz the gifter completes before placing the order.

The Wonderkind can be personalized to the occasion of the gift, the feelings and ideas the receiver evokes in you, and even their lifestyle.

Boxes can range from seasonal, men’s or birthday to curated items for homebodies, foodies, city life and explorers, and everything and everyone in between. Cochrane and Pereira will do the work of putting together a Wonderkind as unique as the person you’re sending it to.  The platform’s ultimate goal is to make it easier for people to show their love for each other through gifts, despite busy schedules.

A tree like a giant sloping bonsai hangs over the part of the studio meant for gathering, coffee-drinking and sharing stories. Through the trees’ leaves filters the light from outside, slightly yellow from the late autumn sun. The room immediately makes you feel at home. This is exactly what Cochrane and Pereira want. The studio is open as a safe workspace for the women whose products are included in each Wonderkind.

They’re brewing coffee in the kitchen, which is a little ways from the seating area. This is fitting because Wonderkind began over coffee. Cochrane and Pereira met at their kids’ fundraising committee, and over coffee gravitated toward each other because of their passion for community. Cochrane comes from a broadcast journalism background — she knew her role in life was to tell others’ stories. Pereira has a background in graphic design and does much of the photography for the brand. 

With Wonderkind, Cochrane and Pereira have crafted a brand that gifts experience, connection and knowledge. The company, like its women founders, is a fiercely feminist and humanist service premised on the idea that gifting is never just gifting — that gifting matters. 

Wonderkind, as its name suggests, is inspired by curiosity and passion, but also, perhaps most crucially, by Canadian women. It has a platform called Women Who Wonder, which is the lifeline that keeps Wonderkind alive.

“Every product that we carry and we source is from a company that’s been founded or cofounded by a female entrepreneur or artist in Canada,” Cochrane says. “So when you order a Wonderkind, […] you also are supporting that [Women Who Wonder] platform.” The female makers are found through extensive research conducted by the two, who are driven by the desire to find women who were courageous enough to wonder “what if?”  

“They're curious,” Cochrane explains.

Women Who Wonder shines a light on those who are striving to make their dreams come true and to uplift their communities through entrepreneurship.

The brands featured on the Women Who Wonder platform can be seen in the Wonderkind office on a map of Canada taking up half a wall. There are strings criss-crossing from coast to coast, held down to photographs by thumb-tacks. Brands such as SheNative, Winterluxe, Belinda Lee Paper, and many more are part of the community that Wonderkind has built for itself, and whose delicately-made products you can find in a Wonderkind box.   

If you receive an item from SheNative in your box, “you’re going to get the Women Who Wonder card [about SheNative],” Cochrane says. And this will “spark a conversation.” With Wonderkind, you not only gift objects, according to Cochrane and Pereira, but you also gift “an experience and you’re gifting knowledge and you’re gifting stories. And I think that everyone is better for that,” Cochrane says.

Women Who Wonder has allowed Cochrane and Pereira to feature in their gift boxes some of the most fascinating objects celebrating Canadian diversity. “We have everything, from female glass blowers,” Pereira says.

“That’s hardcore female glass blowers to woodworkers, […] to bakers. […] We have women [who] take dried flowers from their garden and they put them in resin and it’s just — it’s not over-the-top expensive, but it’s beautiful. So unique. […] We feel empowered when we’re giving these gifts out,” she says. 

{Pictured from left: Tara Cochrane and Shawna Pereira)

Wonderkind is ultimately, then, about love.

“Because we all need gifts, we all need self care,” Pereira says. “We all have terrible days and it’s really easy to beat yourself up over whatever bad thing, whatever obstacle you had during the day. But there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a gift.”

It sounds idyllic now, but it wasn’t always so. When the two were just beginning, they lacked faith in themselves. When approaching potential investors and business partners, “It was really hard in the beginning to have people trust us because you’re like, who are we?” Pereira says. “Like, we don’t have a presence. No one really knows anything about us. And because we hadn’t launched, we didn’t want to really give the big secret away.”

Cochrane echoes this sentiment — it can be tough making those initial contacts, she says. Looking back, Pereira wishes she and Cochrane had more faith in themselves. 

That being said, the journey to where they are now — receiving encouraging responses and love for what Wonderkind is — though difficult, has been worthwhile. 

“I feel we put the right people in the right places,” Pereira says, in terms of the more practical aspects of running Wonderkind. “We put the right people in place to support where we fall short. So I think that’s key,” she goes on. 

At the end of the day, though, what Cochrane and Pereira pride themselves on is the community they have surrounded themselves with and that they impact — the national community. Not just with regard to the women-owned businesses they work with, but also in terms of the many conversations they spark through their gifts. Its cyclical, the work they’re doing. And Cochrane and Pereira do not, for a single moment, take their position and platform for granted. “We are basically in the same boat as a lot of our partners are,” Cochrane says. 

Wonderkind is just beginning to make it easier for us to show everyone we know, the world over, that we love them. So let Cochrane and Pereira navigate you through your busy schedule, and gift something truly wonderful.