The Lovevery Play Gym is the play gym of all play gyms. And what’s not to love? It’s minimal in design yet purposeful in every aspect. Founded by Jessica Rolph and Rod Morris, the Lovevery Play Gym and Play Kits are designed by child development experts to be exactly what children need at each stage of development. Imagine not having to guess what toys are appropriate and challenging for your child? Instead, with the play gym, you have the option of purchasing a Play Kit every two months that includes new play -based items for your child on their level. Each kit comes with an instructional manual making it easy for parents to not only play along but to utilize each kit to its fullest potential. Lovevery helps you every step along the way so that every parent can be confident they are giving their baby the guidance they need at each developmental milestone. We chatted with co-founder Jessica (also co-founder of Happy Family Brands) who shared the inspiration behind Lovevery, tips for turning your ideas into a business, and what’s next for Lovevery. Photography by Heather Gallagher
1. Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into the baby space?
I am passionate about children’s health and learning, a passion that has been with me even before I had my own three children!
I had terrible digestive issues when I was in my 20’s, and learned that healing would only come if I was consistent about eating a whole foods diet. I met my partner at Happy Family a few years later, and was awakened to the fact that what we eat in the first few years of our lives can create a blueprint for our future health and wellness. I wanted to take my passion for nutrition and create better options for babies and toddlers – the time that matters most.
After 4 years of working to build Happy Family, my husband and I were ready to start our own family. When I had my first baby I felt confident about what to feed him. But then it dawned on me – what am I doing to nourish his developing brain? The same research holds in brain science as it does in nutrition – the first 3 years of life are critical. 80% of the brain is developed by year 3 and what experiences a child has in these early years makes a huge difference in what they are capable of later in life.
I discovered a doctoral thesis on infant brain development that had all these detailed, nerdy, cool things that I could do with my baby. It felt really natural and simple and I never looked at our toys the same again. @loveverybaby our mission is to help parents feel confident they are giving their children the best for learning and development.
2. We love that Lovevery was started with a focus on brain development. Lovevery is not your average baby products-there is science, research and thought behind each product. Why was it important to bring this awareness to other parents?
The human brain has about 100 billion nerve cells, all of which are present at birth but have few links between them. Babies brains develop by constructing an intricate communication network. The network’s structure is formed by experiences children have in the first 3 years of life. The more you expose babies to how the world works, the richer the neural networks become. Optimal early development experiences don’t just happen on their own, parents and caregivers can make a big impact.
Just as there are empty calories for a child’s body, there are empty calories for a child’s brain. If a baby presses a button and witnesses a purple cow popping out, lights flashing, and music playing, he will memorize it, practicing it over and over again to deepen his understanding. The issue is that nothing in real life really relates to purple cows and flashing lights; the baby builds a deep neural network of associations around something that is irrelevant to real life.
Lovevery was created to help parents feel confident about how they can nurture their children’s growing brains with meaningful toys and information for each stage.
3. We love The Play Kits. How did this monthly subscription service come to be?
So much of what we are told as parents is theoretical. “Talk more to your child”, “engage more”… but how? I have this well fed, rested little baby, what should I do during playtime? Children crave specific experiences as they develop. How can we as parents and caregivers tune in and make a difference?
We wanted to take the guesswork out and help parents feel confident that they were giving their parents the best. We created The Play Kits are filled with products and information that are based on what child development experts say children need at each stage.
4. You and Rod co-founded Lovevery and he is married to one of your closest friends. How did you decide who would take on what role in the business?
Rod and I have known each other for almost 20 years and we have often traded business ideas when our families have vacationed together. When I mentioned my idea for Lovevery, Rod was inspired said he would like to join me to co-found the company. I am passionate about creating products for babies and their parents while Rod is exceptional at driving revenue growth and scaling. We often have different perspectives on day to day decisions, which is good because we can have healthy debates and end up in a better place than either one of us would on our own. On the big values-related strategic decisions, we are always aligned.
5. Some of our readers on the brink of turning their ideas into real businesses but are nervous to make the big leap. Do you have any words of advice? Or any words of advice that were given to you early on?
I would suggest taking the emotion out of it (so so incredibly hard when you’re pursuing your dream) and just figure out a way to every day be taking that next baby step towards your dream. If you break the big vision and inevitable problems into little incremental to dos, you can make a ton of progress. I realized this when helping to found Happy Family. Before Happy Family was out in the world we felt vulnerable, and a strong opinion from an outsider I valued would either make me elated or devastated. I realized that if I waited until I was optimistic and inspired to work on my business, days and weeks go by without any progress. I could always fine one more step to take to get me closer to making the dream a reality.
6. What can we expect next from Lovevery?
I spent the last decade building Happy Family, and will be spending the next decade fulfilling my dream for Lovevery to be a company that gives parents confidence, peace of mind, and ease in knowing they are giving their little ones just what they need at each stage of development.
Every product is made of sustainably sourced wood, organic cotton fabrics, and 100% baby safe. We also love following along on their blog for additional ideas for each play kit, useful information on play-based learning, and general parenting tips and resources.
Expecting a babe? You can register for your own Lovevery Play Gym and Play Kit by creating a registry where friends and family can contribute.
For more on Lovevery follow them on instagram at @loveverybaby