Amy Bean knows that her kids are growing up in a privileged world. As Park Cities residents, she sees her children and their friends receive countless gifts for birthdays and other holidays. She also knows there’s something she can do to help share that wealth.
“I was just surprised at the amount of stuff that kids accumulate,” she said. “For a lot of kids, they don’t really need all that extra stuff. I kept thinking, ‘well, surely there’s a better way to do this, or a different way to celebrate kids.’”
That’s why she started Tiny Bee Gift Company, an online bookshop that donates a book to a school library for every book purchased.
Attending: If you’re heading to a birthday party, pay a flat rate of $20 to give a book as a gift.
Hosting: Give Tiny Bee books as party favors to your child’s guests for $5 each.
Register your party for free, and a link is then sent to attendees.
“I became interested in the idea of social enterprise in graduate school,” she said. “That was before there were a few really big, successful social enterprises, so now people are familiar with the idea.”
With a background in nonprofit work and three kids of her own at home, Bean launched Tiny Bee in October 2014.
Parents, grandparents, and friends can order books online that are then delivered to their home or the gift recipient’s home. A book of equal value is then donated to a school library of the purchaser’s choice, or Bean can help select a school in need.
“It’s a great idea, especially for my kids’ age — they are toddlers, and they don’t recognize how much they’re given,” repeat customer Kerri McCulloch said.
Bean runs the whole operation from her home, ordering books wholesale and choosing her inventory based off popular choices and age groups.
“I picked a lot of classics and things that are bestsellers,” Bean said.
Each book is packaged in a Tiny Bee gift bag, marked with a sticker, and finally embellished with a library-card style note on the inside cover to commemorate the gift.
Bean has now expanded to what she calls the “birthday party package,” where parents can ask that gifts be made through Tiny Bee, or Tiny Bee books can be given as party favors.
“People that I have given it to reacted positively. They love the fact that the kids receive it in the mail, and it stood out from rest of the gifts,” McCulloch source said. “Plus, there’s the convenience factor.”
Bean and her kids keep a map in her workroom with pins to note where orders have originated across the country.
As for the company name, she wanted something simple but inspirational.
“I wanted the logo to be cute, and I came across the idea of bees,” Bean said. “It’s a fun way to think about it: small in size, but doing big things.”