The Royelle- Múkami Kinoti Kimotho
Sybil Steele connects with her friend Múkami Kinoti Kimotho to hear her thoughts and vision on the future of young girls, being a female founder of color, and where she is taking her unique starship. Enjoy our third interview in the Women of Influence Series, highlighting incredible women making an impact.
One of the most beautiful women inside and out, I find Múkami incredibly energizing and, most definitely, an inspiration. We met over four years ago through my mentor and principal of Future Women X, Victoria Foster. Múkami embodied the clarity, elegance, and determination in her mission that I struggled to find words for (on my mission at the time). Her startup, Royelles - Gaming For Girls, aims to help ignite the next generation of STEAM leaders.
Her deep desire to impact lives, particularly those of women and girls, has led her to the unique intersection of gaming and learning, where she meets the demands of 21st-century girls and their adult influencers. Her framework for inclusive role-modeling is anchored in fierce female avatars with inspiring personas in science, tech, engineering, the arts, and math. Space quests to Mars, learning from real-life super(s)heroes, writing algorithms, all to bridge the gap between girls' dreams and the possibilities that exist for them in meaningful life paths.
Although we live in different cities, Mukami has been somewhat of a kindred spirit to me. The times we reconnect are some of the most authentic moments I've had of women supporting each other with an unwavering belief in possibility and transformation.
Mukami, you launched your metaverse gaming startup Royelles out of private beta last week, and it's been a journey in the making. Congratulations on your launch! What are you most excited about?
We're deeply grateful! The timing couldn't be more ideal for us to launch Royelles to the public. Today's reality is that kids as young as two years old spend more than 6 hours daily on their smartphones or tablets. Mobile gaming is quite literally at the heart of their social interaction, education, and entertainment. Gamer girls are one of the fastest-growing demos in the space; however, products and solutions in our space haven't been created with them in mind. We see this as a huge opportunity to meet them where they demand - with safe, inclusive, educational gaming experiences that allow them to create, connect and have fun while also being inspired and empowered to realize their greatest potential. It's really exciting!
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for girls in gaming? What are they up against, and how are you addressing it as a mother and leader in this space?
Well, for starters, gendered notions of intelligence are picked up very early in girls and affect their views on who they are and what is possible for them. 6 year olds think brilliance is much more likely in boys; Middle school girls' interests in STEM subjects plummet as they reach high school, even though we know that some of the most lucrative, impactful careers are in STEM and STEAM fields. Increasing the number of girls and women in STEAM can equate to an additional 12 TRILLION dollars in the global GDP!
Increasing the number of girls and women in STEAM can equate to an additional 12 TRILLION dollars in the global GDP!
The realities of the pandemic, coupled with the increased digital media consumption at young ages, have resulted in a global crisis of unprecedented proportions. Our kids are experiencing isolation, depression, cyber-bullying, body shaming, poor self-esteem, and erroneous, really limiting mindsets at alarming rates. Moms like me (frankly all parents) are demanding MORE from gaming, particularly for our girls who are disproportionately impacted - and even more so when they are from underserved communities that are primarily communities of color.
Moms like me (frankly all parents) are demanding MORE from gaming, particularly for our girls who are disproportionately impacted - and even more so when they are from underserved communities that are primarily communities of color.
Available options were not created with girls in mind, and some of the more popular games reinforce negative stereotypes, furthering the limiting mindsets that girls are already grappling with. I created Royelles mobile-app-based learning adventures for 6-12 year-olds to dismantle this crisis - by harnessing the power of play to TRANSFORM through inclusion and education powered by technology.
What has been the most satisfying part of your job thus far?
Watching the moments of transformation happen in real-time for girls all over the world… and receiving incredible testimonials from their parents and teachers about the positive impact our gameplay is having on them. We curate Royelles Revolution LIVE! Virtual experiences that bring girls and their adult influencers together to elevate and celebrate the themes weaved into our gameplay. The goal is to activate their leadership potential and ignite their curiosity and confidence in STEAM-focused life paths. Watching a 6 year old step into their power, affirm themselves as more than enough, just the way they are - then take intentional steps towards being the bold, brave, brilliant human they were created to be is everything.
Watching a 6 year old step into their power, affirm themselves as more than enough, just the way they are - then take intentional steps towards being the bold, brave, brilliant human they were created to be is everything.
What is your ultimate vision, and what mission are you on?
Our mission is simple. To create a safe and inclusive metaverse, where all our girls - who, as we know, have big dreams and aspirations for changing the world - can take their rightful place as the next generation of trailblazers, ceiling smashers, and disruptors.
What do you need? How does the world support you as a BIPOC female entrepreneur?
Being a BIPOC Female entrepreneur is an exhilarating journey that comes with its challenges. ACCESS to Social and Financial Capital is a tough slog for any entrepreneur but a nearly impossible proposition and one of the most significant pain points for female founders, and female founders of color like myself, particularly solo founders.
We all know the staggering reality - less than 5% of VC funding is going to women, and less than 1% is going to Women of Color. We can only bootstrap for so long before the external capital infusion becomes business-critical. We need access to funding to enhance product functionality and hire key resources. We also need access to partnerships, strategic alliances, and communities where we can market, grow and scale our businesses with success is invaluable.
We all know the staggering reality - less than 5% of VC funding is going to women, and less than 1% is going to Women of Color.
Very practically speaking - buy our products and services; share your positive experiences and amplify our stories, journeys, and missions in rooms and spaces where you have influence; invest in our ventures and partner with us to grow and scale our impact.
How can we help support the girls you are serving?
We've built an incredibly powerful gamified experience for 6-12 year-olds. Please help us spread the word with the adult influencers in their lives (parents, educators, community leaders, mentors, champions). Take a stand for the girl in you and the girl in your life by downloading the Royelles app, now available on the Appstore and Google Play. Invite your friends and family to do the same. Join us at an upcoming Royelles LIVE experience to let us know what's resonating and your ideas for what we can do to make the experience even more powerful. Reach out to us if you are a mission-aligned organization - we would love to partner to reach as many girls as quickly as possible. Your support will accelerate our efforts to empower millions within families and communities across the country and the globe.
We've built an incredibly powerful gamified experience for 6-12 year-olds. Please help us spread the word with the adult influencers in their lives (parents, educators, community leaders, mentors, champions).
What is your best career advice- what is your go-to mantra time and time again?
Everything you imagine for yourself IS possible. Don't sit and wait for the opportunities to present themselves… get up and make that big, wild, radical dream for yourself happen!
My Go-to Mantra:
Your difference is your superpower! Those qualities and characteristics set you apart as unique that perhaps have made you feel less than others - it's in them that the opportunity lies for you to experience pure joy, deep fulfillment, and have a true impact.
Ok, now some daily questions-
What is your skincare routine?
I keep it very simple. I cleanse with a charcoal bar; Tone with S'eau Prima Mist, Moisturize; Use a Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid Serum; Massage with a Rose Quartz Roller (I don't do this often enough); Drink lots of Hot (yes HOT) Water; Sleep ( I really need to get more of this)!
What skincare products can you not live without and why?
Cold-pressed Hemp Seed oil (it serves me well as both a cleanser and moisturizer that my skin loves). Moroccan Rose oil (I'm obsessed). S'eau Prima Mist - this is the newest addition to my skincare routine. Every pump feels like a luxurious moment of escape. Whether it's after a shower OR in the thick of the mompreneur madness - a few pumps of the mist on my face and chest feel like an indulgence for my skin. And now that I understand the science behind it - It feels good to know that not only am I giving myself a much-needed moment of care, but I'm also working some magic on my skin…that helps keep it healthy and youthful.
S'eau Prima Mist - this is the newest addition to my skincare routine. Every pump feels like a luxurious moment of escape. Whether it's after a shower OR in the thick of the mompreneur madness - a few pumps of the mist on my face and chest feel like an indulgence for my skin.
What makes you feel beautiful?
Three things for sure!
Facing my fears head-on: Once I'm on the other side of the fear, I feel confident, powerful, and beautiful.
Laughter: which I believe comes from a part of the soul that lights me up inside and out.
Plump, soft, glowing skin.
How do you take moments to wind down, to find serenity?
I have done a great job of powering up and smashing my daily to-dos — but the wind-down... that's a whole other story. I'm working on it, though. I'm making time for 60-seconds of intentional breathing followed by a spritz of the S'eau Prima mist - this gives me momentary escapes to calm and peace. I live for a bath or long shower in candlelight with my favorite music (Sade or Afro beats).
How do you power up daily?
My best days are powered up with a meditative walk in the outdoors that culminates with me dancing with a special cluster of the wisest trees.
What is something you keep meaning to do for yourself?
Sleep more. Laugh more. Dance more. Explore more of this amazing planet.