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Inspiring Conversations with Sena Lee of MILLU

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sena Lee.

Hi Sena, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Sena: Hmm.. a one-liner of my entrepreneurial journey? “15 years old street pharmacist turned entrepreneur, CEO, & co-founder.” My life is practically a handful of movies wrapped into one.

Born as a Korean-American in Hawaii, my personality as a kid was a mix of Korean fire, the mellowness of the islands, and the parenting lessons of “Full House” and “Boy Meets World.”

When I was little, I had big emotions. Like, really big ones. I cared deeply about things and would express it in laughter, tenderness, tears, tantrums, and explosive episodes. As I got older and life got more “real-er”, these emotions became a lot to handle. I didn’t know what to do with them, nor did my parents, so I grew afraid of feeling or expressing myself.

That confusion turned into me numbing out with blunts in high school, followed by blue lights and court dates. Now that I’m older, I find there are simple principles I wish I knew when I was younger that could’ve helped me so much in life, and there are simple things my parents could have done to guide me along the way (but they didn’t know how). My family didn’t talk through things or share their emotions like the families I saw on TV, yet we were all holding each other’s pain quietly.

My disappointment that my father didn’t handle things like Bob Saget was quickly broken when I entered adulthood. The reality is that parents are expected to do it all, doing their utmost BEST for their children, yet having moments of tension as they grow older, feeling like things slip through the cracks and feeling like what they did wasn’t “enough.” But tbh that’s LIFE. We can’t avoid hardship, and just like how that’s inevitable, so is JOY. Because through those tough times, we build character and resilience.

Life is a journey, and we’re meant to pass on intergenerational wisdom so the people who come after us have a ladder to stand on. This is why my co-founder Sarah Hartono and I created MILLU. MILLU is an immersive children’s kit that takes life’s victories and losses and crafts them into shareable stories, playtimes, and activities so the next generation can get a head start. We want to reach them at an early age when they can still build solid foundations for how they view the realities of our world.

However, we couldn’t have done any of this without the support and encouragement of our community. Sarah and I entered our school startup competition in 2020 on the pure fact that we knew what we were learning in class would stick deeper if we had something to apply the concepts to. We took a real problem, paired it with a hypothesis, tested it, and won first place. What we thought would be a small project was well received by the community, who cheered us on to take things further. We recently launched a kickstarter campaign that got fully funded in nine hours thanks to the love and support of others. And another incredible door has opened – we’re currently in the OCEAN accelerator program, learning how to scale and grow to help families across the world, being trained by the very best. We couldn’t have done this without the love and support of the people who have rallied around this mission to help families thrive – thank you. We’re creating with teachers, parents, caregivers, and the future generation in mind and can’t do it without the support and love of our community.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Oof, challenges and obstacles? Isn’t that all of life? One of our unique challenges is also one of our greatest blessings… as a team of passionate Gen Z professionals who are the bridge between childhood and parenthood, we understand unique problems and solutions as we navigate closely between both worlds. While we are not yet parents, we are passionate about creating tools for children and families based on our own experiences. We take the messiness of inner-healing, hours of personal therapy, and the lessons we learn and make it easily digestible (and fun) for the next generation to get a head start in life. Our in-house team does the hard work of research for parents by pairing neuroscience and play-therapy to create immersive kits which focus on vital life topics in order to strengthen character and confidence. We’ve built out our educational platform by consulting with industry experts and beta testing our products to perfection. The fact that we aren’t parents ourselves could be one of the greatest challenges for this company, but it’s actually an invitation to co-create with parents and invite them into our work. We’ve intentionally created a community of parents, teachers, caretakers, and industry professionals from diverse backgrounds in order to create an intergenerational feedback loop that spans seven decades. In this way, our “shortcoming” has actually opened a door for more collaboration.

We’ve been impressed with MILLU, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
A subscription-based kit that children and adults collaborate on together in order to foster intergenerational conversation and mutual play. For ages 5-10+. Our flagship product, “The Uniqueverse,” has been launched on Kickstarter and will soon be posted on our website as well.

ABOUT: “Whether you’re a parent, a caregiver, or a teacher, we see you — you’re our heroes! With the craziness that comes with everyday life, work, long to-do lists, you spend so much time for your children, but it can be difficult to carve out intentional time with them — that’s why we exist! We wanted to help you do the things that matter to you the most: helping your children grow up WELL.

Childhood is the most pivotal growth stage in a person’s life. During this time, a child’s development affects future cognitive, social, emotional, linguistic, and physical development.

But we’re not trying to stump you with parenting guilt! Actually, we’re here to dismantle it completely! You’re too much of a rockstar to be getting weighed down by that.

Studies have shown that it’s not about the amount of time spent with your kids but the depth of the interaction. It’s about quality not quantity.

‘It’s not about adding more, it’s about recapturing the time.’

MILLU seeks to prevent these developmental setbacks from happening in the first place, all while giving space for your child (and your inner child) to play.

In each kit, our goal is to provide a head start for the next generation by getting REAL and creating space for deep relationships to take place.”

What were you like growing up?
Sena: Growing up, I was tender, spunky, and full of curiosity. The emotions thing was no joke. I was filled with passion and had a deep desire to crack the code of what it meant to be human. I asked questions like, “why are there so many smart adults yet still so many people in pain? What’s the meaning of life? What am I supposed to do here on earth?” I think I was born a mini philosopher with no outlet or resource to quench this curiosity. I wrote songs, made up plays, and pretended to be a spy. I’d mix up all the snacks we had in the kitchen, putting PB with pretzels, cereal, chips, and chocolate, and act like a chef, forcing myself to believe that I was making the best meal replacements on earth. If I had a question or strong urge to uncover something, I’d ask someone or take on the challenge of discovery myself. This was sometimes really fun and sometimes disastrous, but at least it was always an adventure. But as I got older, the awe I felt for just being alive in this amazing world got bogged down by pretending to be an “ADULT.” Through MILLU, we are creating tools for our friends to reconnect with their inner-child so they can give themselves permission to heal. These kits remind the grown-ups to play while also creating meaningful, life-altering memories for their children to look back on and know that they are loved, seen, and valued.

I’ll end by saying, “Joy is INEVITABLE.” May your awe and wonder of life invite joy into your everyday experience.

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Credit (except for the baby picture): Charlotte Kim (@char_mandoo [instagram], charlottelibertykim.com) In the profile picture, Sarah Hartono is on the left and Sena Lee is on the right.

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