Amid the global health crisis, the shifting economy, and the evolving political landscape, the world is asking entrepreneurs, strategists, and managers to shift their way of working, thinking, and doing business.
At the same time, as any parent will tell you, the past six months have seen enormous changes in parenting. Nearly every child’s education has been interrupted, leaving parents, particularly those working from home right alongside their kids, looking for ways to sustain—and even stimulate—learning and development.
While this struggle is universally-felt, like any good problem, it also makes for a fantastic business opportunity. And today we bring you an inspiring story of a startup that relieves that pain while actively innovating its business to thrive, and to help parents and children do the same.
Strengthening the Parent-Child Bond
Jessica Rolph, who co-founded the organic baby food company Happy Family, which was sold to Danone in 2013, spent years becoming an expert in what to feed her baby, but when it came to playing with him—and more specifically, the right kinds of toys to buy—Jessica, like a lot of parents, found herself wanting more. After researching early childhood development, she found simple, fundamental activities they could do to connect and bond.
So Jessica got to work, tinkering to make her own toys and recruiting her close friend Rod Morris to help get these solutions out to other struggling parents. Morris was a behavioral marketing veteran with deep experience scaling mission-based businesses, and Rolph knew that he could help create a mass market business out of the rigorous child development research that had previously been hard for parents to tap into.
Now, three years later, their efforts to support that special parent-child bond have paid off. Lovevery’s subscriber base has grown by 500% in the last 12 months, with more than 125,000 active subscribers to the company’s signature Play Kits offering. And with more and more parents actively seeking new ways to stimulate their young children at home, Lovevery is set to continue the trend.
Today, Rolph and Morris share their insights on how to thrive—both personally and in business—in today’s unprecedented circumstances.
Don’t shy away from research-based business
Even though she refers to the initial curiosity that led to Lovevery as “nerdy,” Rolph and Morris’s dedication to research is at the core of Lovevery’s success. Recognizing the enormous pressure parents of young children feel when it comes to developmentally appropriate play and learning, Lovevery infuses all of its products and activities with research-backed practice. Calling on a core team of 20+ expert advisors from pediatrics, neuroscience, occupational therapy, early childhood education research and pedagogy, they are able to truly differentiate in a crowded marketplace. It was this knowledge, for example, that led them to feature real faces in their materials, as children under three are drawn to representations that help them understand their world, rather than relying exclusively on cute cartoons and illustrations. For parents, they deliver tips and play ideas that are always based in best practices pulled from a broad base of knowledge.
Understand the new challenges and opportunities that come with working from home
Despite the obvious benefits of working from home, managers and leaders should also be aware of its drawbacks. You are likely struggling to find a balance between routine and spontaneity; between work, childcare and personal time. Know that your employees are as well and, as Morris suggests, be empathetic with your team and open about your own vulnerability navigating new realities.
And, understand how your children might be learning at home, too.
Rolph urges parents to redefine their expectations around what learning looks like, whether for young children not yet in school or older children missing their friends and routines. Taking a cue from Lovevery’s mission to bring more relaxation and less stress to parent-child play, she suggests reminding yourself that less rigidity around schedules, a little boredom can actually benefit your children by inspiring creativity, giving them space to reflect, and be more giving.
Invest in helping your customers adapt.
During the pandemic, Lovevery saw interest in their content triple. The company knew that this meant more than greater demand for their products; it meant that parents and caregivers now needed more of the research-backed solutions their company was known for. As a result, the company has ramped up the hiring of content creators— at a time when most companies are being forced to make difficult staffing decisions, Lovevery has hired half of the company’s current team since the start of COVID. They are also finding more ways to support their customers and the community at-large with free resources, like their new COVID-19 poetry book Doing My Part, which was developed to help children make sense of things like wearing masks.
While business closings continue to rise amid new economic challenges and changing consumer behavior, Lovevery offers an inspiring case. Here is a company that has been able to maintain communication with customers and serve an ever growing need, led by founders that are also personally dedicated to helping parents and children grow together through supportive and nurturing toys.