At Simplicity Parenting Essential Goods, our goal is to help parents and educators buy less stuff.
We know that in our consumerism-driven society this may seem counterintuitive. But Simplicity Parenting Essential Goods is much more than a shop; it’s the newest member of the Simplicity Parenting movement.
These days, there are so many choices that even basic decisions can become deeply overwhelming. We are pushed to buy more and more, and are told that this product or that will make are lives easier. But rather than solving our problems, all this stuff does is add to the overwhelm and clutter as we drift further apart from one another.
That’s where we come in. Our purpose at Simplicity Parenting Essential Goods is to provide high quality items that simplify our lives and foster a connection with each other and with nature, all while counteracting the drive in society to “buy more stuff.” We want to help parents and educators buy smarter—not more. We also seek to be a resource and supportive community.
This is why we work hard to field test every item at Essential Goods to ensure that it meets our high standards of performance, durability, and sustainability.
Kim John Payne
Kim John Payne has been quietly and passionately working to help tens of thousands of people give voice to the feeling that something is not okay about the new normal of overwhelm that so many people are now experiencing. He offers do-able ways to realize the hopes and values we all have for ourselves, and build deep connections with our children that gives families resiliency and simple joy.
A consultant and trainer to over 230 U.S. independent and public schools, Kim John Payne, M.ED, has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher, educator and a private family counselor for twenty seven years. He regularly gives key-note addresses at international conferences for educators, parents, and therapists and runs workshops and training’s around the world. In each role, he has been helping children, adolescents and families explore issues such as social difficulties with siblings and classmates, attention and behavioral issues at home and school, emotional issues such as defiance, aggression, addiction and self-esteem and the vital role living a balanced simple life brings.
After completing a degree in psychology and Spanish from the University of Michigan, Tara spent the next six years working in micro-finance and teaching English in Puerto Rico, Spain and India. Living abroad awakened a drive for immersive experiences that broaden our perspective and build courage and competence, and she felt she could have the biggest impact back home. Returning to Michigan, she discovered a passion for early childhood education, which allowed her to have the kind of impact she was looking for through developing lifelong leadership skills early on.
In 2012 she founded Ann Arbor Forest School, one of the first outdoor preschools in the nation, and the first which offered a full winter outdoor program. In the process of studying how to keep the children more and more comfortable outside, she started seriously researching and testing outdoor gear, which allowed the children to be outside in a wide range of temperatures, safely, comfortably, and while having fun.
Attending a lecture by Kim John Payne several years later was a revelation for her that put all her work in context. She began studying directly with him to learn the Simplicity Parenting method, integrating his philosophy into her outdoor classroom, allowing her to foster the kind of great relationships she had wanted for the children and to become an expert instructor.
Now Tara is extremely excited to be working with Kim to bring her outdoor education expertise and years of research and development in gear to bear in helping parents. So that instead of buying more and more gear, they can buy better gear, which will allow them to connect with nature and their family. With curated gear that has been tried and tested through the rigors of Forest School, they can buy the best things to have a simpler life with their kids.
Matt was born in the “Great State of Minnesota” (as he calls it) and lived the life of a normal Minnesotan kid until his dad accepted a position as Director of the Jerusalem International YMCA and his family moved to Israel when he was 12. Matt graduated from high school at the Anglican International School of Jerusalem and in his 6 years living in Israel, got a serious case of the Middle Eastern bug. After graduating from Wheaton College (the one in Illinois) in 2000 he joined the Navy as an Arabic linguist and spent the next 6 years riding submarines and translating Arabic communications. Post military, he obtained a Masters of Middle Eastern Studies and Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
Matt has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In elementary school, he and his brother ran a lemonade stand called Hawkeye and Grey Hawk’s Lemonade. In junior high and high school the pair sewed custom pants for their classmates and planned birthday parties for kids. Matt taught guitar and tutored math in college, then figured out how to buy rental houses as a side business before starting to sell on Amazon in grad school.
After working for a small startup after grad school, Matt quit his job and started working full-time on his own business. When the opportunity to be part of the Simplicity Parenting Essential Goods team came up, Matt jumped at the chance. As a dad of two amazing kids (Georgianna - 6 and Thor - 3), he fully understood the difficulty of navigating purchasing decisions for kids when considering durability, cost, environmental impact, potential toxins, and in regards to toys, what provides the best opportunities for growth and development.
As Matt puts it … “Reading Simplicity Parenting has been hugely influential in the way I parent and it is an honor and privilege to be a part of this movement.”
After receiving a Waldorf education through high school, Ramzi graduated from Hampshire College in 2012. With his concentration in fine art and creative design, he delved deeper into the intersection of art, nature and technology. Ramzi sees technology as a tool. He has been a part of the Simplicity Parenting team since 2013, and since then has continued to dig deeper into human relationships and their intersection with technology. He is drawing to the mission of living more simply and its application to people from all walks of life.
Ramzi is an avid artist, and can often be found translating his ideas into reality. Follow along with his most recent projects here, including 365monsterdrawings where he embarks on the journey of drawing a monster everyday for a year!
Photos taken by Silver Thumb Photography