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Meet Claudia Perez of The Play Date in Downey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Claudia Perez.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I received my Bachelor’s of Science from the USC Marshall School of Business, upon graduating I started my career as a Buyer for BCBG Max Azria where I got to travel to trade shows in New York, Las Vegas and Hong Kong. Buying was the perfect mix of the three things I was looking for in a career, it was creative, analytical and involved traveling. Buying is also a very collaborative career, we worked closely with several departments like Planning & Allocation, Marketing, Social Media, Store Concepts, and Licensing on strategies and goals.

After almost ten years in the fashion industry, I decided it was time to apply what I learned working at corporate and business school to my own business. I was just not sure what that was going to be. I took the leap in 2015 after my wedding and quit my job to work with my husband at Ink Head Design & Prints, a local print shop he started over ten years ago, also featured on Voyage LA. I implemented internal operational processes, which helped productivity and capacity, helped increase sales by building sales accounts and was able to impact both top and bottom line numbers.

While I was pregnant with my daughter Sienna, I realized I needed to do something more fulfilling. Motherhood has been so empowering, it has changed my life perspective completely and I have really been able to understand my life’s purpose. I wanted to do something for my community where I could impact lives. Becoming Sienna’s mom made me realize how important the first two years of life have been, it is the foundation of development, learning and habits. If given the opportunity, children can really thrive. They are so smart and I was able to apply and implement different methods of learning and development first hand with Sienna, we also did several parent and me programs that really helped. Sienna began speaking before one, at her one-year appointment she was saying and identifying words like unicorn. Now at two years old, she knows her colors, letters, can spell her name and communicate her address. I feel like she absorbs so much of what I teach her.

My mother Ana Cecilia has had Nuñez Family Daycare for almost 35 years in the city of Downey, where I grew up and where my husband and I decided to buy our first home. It takes a village to raise a child and I knew my mother had to be part of my village in raising Sienna. Growing up around child development classes and teaching theories like Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, really made me aware of how I wanted to raise my children. I understood the importance of mommy and me classes and was able to enroll Sienna in several, but I found myself driving to Pasadena and Santa Monica for the types of environments I was looking for.

That is when I decided I wanted to create a space for families, where children can learn and play and parents can build a community. I wanted to focus on 0-3 years old because of the brain developing approximately 80% by age 3 and 90% by age five so our space is conducive for five and under. I took the risk and created The Play Date.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
We opened in January 2019, it has been a smooth road with a few bumps, I don’t think any new business is a smooth sail, it is more like a roller coaster ride with highs and lows. I tried to prepare myself mentally for what was ahead for me and my family. I don’t think we could have prepared for how hard starting a business is but I am grateful for my family and the support we have received from our community. One of the biggest struggles is balancing it all and managing my mind to not feel overwhelmed with the endless to do list an Entrepreneur has. I try to manage my time to be completely present in moments with my family, especially my daughter Sienna.

The second challenge has been capital. If I could start over, I would have tried to raise more funds before starting because it is hard bootstrapping a business on your own. We have done a Kickstarter where we were able to raise money with the help of family, friends and the community and that really helped. I am starting to do more networking and I recently joined the Female Founder Collective, which has been a great resource.

The Play Date – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Play is an important part of early childhood development and creativity. Our space has been carefully designed to stimulate creativity, inspire experiential learning and curiosity in a safe and loving environment. We focus on the parent’s experience as much as the child. Our ambiance has been designed to inspire in a calm setting. We aspire to encourage parents to invest in our future with intentional parenting and we want to guide you along your journey by providing positive information and cherished experiences.

The Play Date is a modern creative play space ideal for parents, babies, toddlers and children up to five years of age. We offer memberships for open play, parent & me classes and fun workshops. We have general mommy/daddy and me classes, cooking class for toddlers, sign language class, Spanish immersion classes for babies and toddlers, dance classes for toddlers, music class, preschool prep classes, gymnastics, art class, mothering together, which is a postpartum mommy group. We have Work & Play, which is a workspace upstairs for parents to do work, while we offer supervised play downstairs for your little ones to play, we offer free WiFi, printer and will offer free coffee soon! We have Babes Workout, which is a mommy workout upstairs with a personal trainer, while we offer supervised play downstairs for your little ones to play. The Play Date is also available for private parties, we help with party planning, coordinating, and entertaining. We also have a thoughtfully curated children’s boutique full of quality products online and in store.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment so far has been at the red ribbon cutting ceremony we did back in February, about a month after opening. I had Sienna in my arms as my husband and I cut the ribbon with the city of Downey Mayor and councilmen and women around. It was a rewarding moment to have Sienna there and be recognized as an official business in Downey. It felt like our first big accomplishment, we started and opened The Play Date in 2 months! There was a lot of hard work, sweat and tears to make it happen and the ceremony was a milestone to celebrate.

Pricing:

  • Open Play is $12/child or $10/child for Siblings
  • Open Play 5 Day Pass is $50
  • Open Play 10 Day Pass is $80
  • Unlimited Open Play is $95
  • Class Drop-Ins are $25-30
  • Class Series of 4-5 Classes are $80-100
  • Work & Play is $25/hour with supervised play
  • Babes Workout is $15 for 1 Adult or $30 for 1 Adult & 1 Child with supervised play
  • Private Parties start at $450 for 3 hours

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Nola Fontanez Photography, Lauren Gardner Blog

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