Abbie Schiller, the founder and CEO of L.A.-based The Mother Company, saw her three-year-old daughter struggling to identify and express her emotions. Her daughter’s heroes at the time—the characters she watched and loved on television—weren’t discussing emotions as complicated as frustration or jealousy. And so Schiller, along with The Mother Company’s president Samantha Kurtzman-Counter, set out to create a show that would speak to kids in a whole different way.
The result of their collaboration is the four x half-hour miniseries Ruby’s Studio, which launches internationally on Netflix today in the US, Canada, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand.
Ruby’s Studio is hosted by Ruby, an art teacher who welcomes children into her studio for a day of crafts and learning. The episodes, which are also available on DVD, address social and emotional learning (SEL) through animated stories and original musical numbers.
“The kids are just completely enraptured by Ruby,” says Kurtzman-Counter. “Ruby’s got a little bit of magic, but really she talks to kids in the way they like to be spoken to, which is with respect and kindness and understanding. And there’s lots of fun stuff too. This show is not medicine in any way, it’s super entertaining. And the kids, I think because they’re being approached so genuinely, enjoy it on a deeper level.”
Aimed at kids ages two to seven, the miniseries focuses on feelings, friendship, siblings and safety in its first four episodes.
“We asked The Mother Company’s community of parents what issues were most important to them, and of course parents are really concerned about kids’ safety,” Kurtzman-Counter says. “What we wanted to tackle, which nobody was doing, was personal safety. We’re not talking about bicycle helmets; we’re talking about becoming the boss of your own body and how to protect yourself from that harm that, unfortunately, is done to kids every day.”
To ensure these difficult and often complicated topics are dealt with in an age-appropriate way, Schiller and Kurtzman-Counter consulted experts in fields including media literacy, parenting, teaching and psychology. These issues are further explored in a series of companion books, which are available in Target stores and distributed internationally by Ingram Content Group. And with the series launching on Netflix, Schiller hopes to see the show’s presence continue to grow.
“We’re The Mother Company. We’re made by moms, for moms, and that shouldn’t stop on our shores. We’re so excited to be going global with this partnership with Netflix, but we’re also in talks with other distribution partners to take us beyond those countries digitally and in other ways. We really intend to become a series that is a childhood staple for countries all over the world,” Schiller says.
“Now is when we need to start talking about licensing,” she adds. “We would love to see everything from lunchboxes to Halloween costumes in the next year or two.”