Gather just won a Totally Awesome Award for “Most Ideal Indoor Play Space” in Chicago. We recently spoke to them about their experience as a business owner, the best advice they’ve ever received and more. Hear what they have to say below!
Red Tricycle: Your community recently voted you “Most Ideal Indoor Play Space” – what do your customers value most about your business?
Gather: I think our guests value the community we co-create here. Parents and caregivers tell me all the time that they enjoy being here as much as their children do because we have created a welcoming, creative, clean and enriching environment to encourage meaningful play.
RT: What do you want people to know about your business that they don’t already know?
G: Gather is designed to be a place you can come and be creative with your child from birth all the way to age 8. We offer a perfect blend of non-structured imaginative play, with drop in classes that span the arts, caregiver resources so we can learn together and an art studio where you engage your imagination.
RT: How did your business get started and what was the motivation?
G: Gather was started by two incredible moms Kristin Blakeman & Karyn Mewett. I took over in 2014 and because they had established an amazing design, I could focus on expanding the programming of drop-in classes spanning the arts, creating caregiver resources, registered classes, summer camp, and special events. My motivation has always been to create a supportive community for parents and caregivers and a space that encourages meaningful, engaged play through the arts.
RT: Tell us, what do you start your morning with: 1. coffee 2. tea 3. mimosa 4. water 5. all of the above.
G: My incredible partner, Dan, often makes me chai in the morning.
RT: What is the most awesome thing a customer has ever done for you?
G: Our customers are incredible; from writing wonderful reviews, bringing their friends and touring them through the space telling them wonderful things about our business and design, but the absolutely best thing I have heard from many parents is how much their child has grown and changed because of the programming or support they found at Gather. I have been so inspired to witness the resilience of children and see their growth and change. It is the best feeling to know we have provided a space for confidence to grow, for new skills to evolve, and for children to know they are valued and wonderful.
RT: What is your biggest pet peeve as a business owner?
RT: How do you keep your stress levels down?
G: Spending time with my own family too and doing my best to practice gratitude even for the challenging aspects of balancing my home and work life. I strongly believe that the challenges are also the opportunities to learn and create change.
RT: What’s your secret superhero power as a business owner?
G: Creativity and collaboration. I get to make art with children and caregivers everyday… this no doubt powers my creative thinking and encourages me to innovate in so many ways. I also strive to collaborate with others to develop amazing programming or enhanced services for our customers and that expands what is possible in infinite ways.
RT: Tell us, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (as a parent or business owner)?
G: Change is constant. Embrace that change is coming whether things are going great or rocky. This understanding helps me maintain perspective.
RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?
G: One free healthy snack per child on your next visit.
Check out their website here.
Photo Credit: Gather