Headspace x Barbie: A playful partnership for better mental health.

Always on.

If we look at today’s society, we see a clear trend: people are increasingly struggling with, and aware of, mental health issues. Is it a result of the always-on world we live in? Is it due to Covid-19 and lockdowns? Are people finding it more difficult to deal with their busy lives nowadays ?

Regardless the reason, the growing number creates a big challenge for our society. But you know what they say, right? Each challenge comes with an opportunity. And the opportunity might be in partnering-up to create solutions for a healthier future together.

Headspace and Mattel for sure dived in headfirst when they announced their partnership. Ready to find out why Barbie switched her Ken for a little more Zen? 


Let’s first take a look at Headspace, a company founded by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson. In his early twenties, Andy quit his university degree in the UK to travel to the Himalayas and study meditation. This journey took him around the world for ten years and led him to becoming a Tibetan Buddhist monk. After returning to London, he met Rich, who was experiencing burnout and struggling with mental health issues.

They started hosting mindfulness talks, but soon realized that there was an increasing demand for mental support and guidance from the attendees. So, together they started Headspace. Their vision? “Making meditation accessible, relevant and beneficial to as many people as possible”. This led to the creation of the Headspace app, which is considered one of the most user-friendly meditation apps in the market right now. Because of the app and its content, they are taking the seriousness and intimidation out of the practice, lowering the threshold to meditate.  

Fast forward ten years.

With users in over 190 countries and an annual revenue of over $100 million, Headspace is one of the most remarkable examples of telemedicine. - Telemedicine is a movement within the healthcare sector to provide digital health-related services at a distance. Making it accessible for people wherever they are, whenever they need it. 

But Headspace is eager to change the well-being industry even further and have an increasingly positive impact on mental health. That's what they partnered up with an unexpected player Mattel. Mattel is one of the world’s biggest toy producers. In fact, you might know them from the Barbie and Ken dolls. 

Teach them young.

You might be thinking, huh? How is this related to well-being? Research, conducted between 2007 and 2012, showed a 20-percent increase over time in children between the ages of 6 and 17, who were diagnosed with anxiety.

More and more kids are growing up with mental health issues. But most of them are not aware or unsure of how to deal with their struggles. Addressing this topic at a young age can prevent more severe conditions in the future.  

Breathe with Barbie.

That's why Headspace and Mattel created ‘Breathe with Barbie’. A Barbie doll that guides kids through meditations and mindfulness, with 5 different audios played by just clicking on Barbie’s necklace.

They also created video tutorials, in which Barbie takes kids through the process of meditating. These videos are available for free on YouTube - enabling every child to access this content. 

The power of partnership.

The partnership with Mattel created value for an unserved customer segment in the Headspace business model. And it is completely in line with Headspace’s vision. They show how health and well-being is a matter of everyday life and is interconnected to every activity and moment within.  

By collaborating strategically, they are creating a life-long continuum of improving mental health. How could you collaborate strategically to lower the barrier and empower society to be in charge of their own health and well-being? 

Leroy Spierkman Van Weezelenburg
Business designer Amsterdam

Leroy Spiekerman van Weezelenburg

Creative, opportunistic, lacrosse, social, curious, getting shit done, explorer, direct, stress resistant and wannabe (bass)guitarist.

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