The Happy News – An Interview With Emily Coxhead
The Grow team are delighted to have caught up with Emily Coxhead, Founder and Director of The Happy News – A Newspaper that celebrates all that’s good in the world. Published quarterly, the newspaper is packed with positive news stories from around the globe.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Emily. How did The Happy News get started?
I’ve always been creative. For as long as I can remember, I’ve spent my life just wanting to draw and create. I graduated in 2014, did a lot of freelance work as well as creating my cards and products to sell on Etsy and in January 2015 I thought there should be a platform to share only positive news. In the summer, I decided I was going to try and make it ‘a thing’ so I began figuring out how I could do it (with zero money) and I ended up setting up a Kickstarter campaign (which is a crowd-funded campaign) and 73 wonderful people backed the project and basically allowed me to produce and print the first-ever issue of the newspaper.
What would you say was your ‘lightbulb’ moment in sharing positive news?
A few weeks before finishing the first newspaper there had been the most horrendous attack in France (the Bataclan). I suddenly thought that I couldn’t possibly put out a ‘happy newspaper’ because I didn’t want it to seem like I wasn’t acknowledging what had happened or that I didn’t care. The reason for creating the newspaper was because I cared so much. There were so many stories of strangers helping strangers, people opening up their doors and acts of kindness on another level and that was probably the lightbulb moment because I thought that’s exactly it. The awful things happening in the world, the loss of lives are undeniable but we need so much more of the acts of kindness and people doing good and those stories deserve to be celebrated.
The BBC recently focussed on the ‘The Happy Newspaper’; what impact has this had on you personally and on the business?
Huge! I honestly did not expect the impact it has had. The number of subscriptions doubled within a few weeks, after the BBC feature, and it opened up a lot more conversations and opportunities with other media outlets. This has had a knock on effect in sharing The Happy News even further.
At Grow, we believe that being thankful or expressing gratitude each day, makes an incredible difference to our mindsets. What kind of things do you to focus on the positive and turn a potentially negative situation around?
I feel like it’s the simple things that really matter to me when I’m feeling low. Going for a walk, having a cup of tea, talking to somebody you love, writing thoughts and feelings down, singing to ABBA at the top of my lungs and noticing the good in every day as best as I can.
What are some of the high points that you’ve experienced along the way?
So many to mention! A whole heap of work goals and dreams but a really lovely moment for me was when I received an email from a social and emotional well-being officer at a primary school. They told me that they’d set up a ‘mindful moment room’ and they used The Happy Newspaper every day and had also created a sunshine wall for the children to add positive notes too. The school council do their own ‘happy paper’ off the back of The Happy News and they even have a ‘rainbow bunny’ called Emily that is presented each week to the pupil who has shown the most kindness to others. That in itself was enough to keep me doing what I do, and I may have let out a happy little tear when I received it.
What are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
A very practical challenge was having 3000 newspapers dropped off on the doorstep to pack up and post out to all corners of the planet. I quickly realised that I couldn’t physically do that again and managed to find a distribution company for them. The biggest challenge for me has been stepping into the role of running a business, which is not something I ever really planned for or expected to happen. I just sort of thought I’d create a job where I could doodle all day long but it doesn’t quite work like that when you run a business!
What are you passionate about, something that inspires you?
I love inspiring others to make someone happy!
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
I’m not actually sure to be honest, probably my parents as they’ve been the people who have always been there, teaching me and inspiring me to be a good person and allowing me to chase my dreams.
Talk us through a typical ‘day at the office’:
Every day is so different at the moment but typically it starts with a cup of tea and a catch up on emails and messages on social media. I usually write a manageable to-do list the night before or in the morning, with at least three things I know I can get done (anything else is a bonus!). I try and go for a little walk to have a break, although I definitely need to do that more. The rest of my day can be filled with anything from conjuring up new ideas, illustrating new designs and greeting cards, working on new product designs, writing, photographing products etc.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world… Poetry, beauty, romance, love… these are what we stay alive for” – Robin Williams – Dead Poets Society
If you could make one change to the world, what would that be?
Free cookies for everyone (or getting rid of toxic news, climate change etc etc)
Favourite books or movies?
Books – Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, The Kindness of Strangers – Lonely Planet Travel Literature
Films – Mrs Doubtfire, The Greatest Showman, Inside Out
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love going to the seaside… that’s my favourite place to be no matter the weather
Tell us about your plans for the future?
A big focus for me is to somehow get the newspaper into schools and hopefully inspire the next generation to focus, find and share the good. I’d also like to get them into more waiting rooms up and down the country, which is something I did with the first issue, thanks to some extra funding. I’ve heard so many heart-warming stories of people gifting the newspaper to somebody who’s poorly or struggling and the fact that it can be a little light in those times is such an incredible thing.