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Meet Wai and Alli Sallas of Wild Child Gym

Today we’d like to introduce you to Wai and Alli Sallas.

Hi Wai and Alli, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Once upon a time, I was the co-owner of a small chain of franchised children’s gyms. My Wild Child co-founder (and lovely wife), Allison, was a veteran fashion executive. Once we became parents, we quickly discovered a white space in the market for a boutique children’s gym like this. We dreamt of building a space that parents and kids would equally enjoy. A space that offers a premium level of product, service and experience. A carefully curated one stop shop to support families through all spectrums of early family life. Our goal is to spark a child’s imagination, wonder + strength through play and preserve the magic of childhood. Ultimately, we realized we could merge our two skillsets in a meaningful way and connect us to what brings us the most joy and reward in life…Family and Wild Child Gym was born. Having the right aesthetic and an inclusive atmosphere was really important to us. We were equally inspired by our backgrounds. I’m from Honolulu, Hawaii and Alli is from Sedona, Az. While drastically different, both are rooted in scenic beauty and the importance of nature. Wild Child encompasses that feeling. It’s warm and inviting. It’s California style and a distinct Hawaiian vibe.

When we created Wild Child’s unique design, we needed it to be functional, playful + inspiringly beautiful. We aimed to catapult joy and a love of nature in the heart of the city. With manzanita trees to swing from and grassy hills to climb and slide. It’s a constant and gentle reminder that our environment plays an important role in a child’s development. Our sun-filled space is open for endless opportunity and fun (for ages starting at three months up to eight years of age). Signature classes are structured to offer age-appropriate activities highlighting specific areas of a child’s development through strategic play. The program is themed each week and your child’s imagination is our guide. No two classes ever repeat. Alongside those daily classes, Wild Child thrives on an array of customized events, from premium birthday parties, day camps, enrichment programs, Wild Play and workshops of all sorts. Finally, the most vital component (and our magic) is our incredible staff. While in our care, parents are entrusting us with their child’s wellbeing and we are there to help your child’s confidence grow and make you feel right at home. Our instructors are trained to ensure a safe, fun and engaging experience. They love what they do and really bring the Aloha spirit. We are a space where all are welcome.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Wild Child is based in an incredible building in beautiful downtown Culver City. The community embraced us right away and we grew quickly. We realized very quickly that we were more than a children’s play space. This was the business of joy and our wildest dreams of serving our community had come true. And not just Culver City. We have members from across the Southland; from Pacific Palisades to Palos Verdes to Valley Village. Influential voices like GOOP and Red Tricycle supported our vision naming us a premier indoor playspace in Los Angeles. It’s been really incredible. As a small family business, the first years have been fueled by grit, passion and very long hours. From day one, we put an emphasis on training our staff and elevating our experience. Ultimately, our team is an extension of our family and most have been sharing our vision since day one. This has been a huge element of our success. And then Covid-19 hit and the global pandemic shuttered our doors for ten months and counting… We understand the toll Covid is taking on all of us–particularly on families, working mothers and small businesses. We kept pushing forward. We started a free YouTube channel to support families and give children a piece of normalcy. That then morphed into its own program, The Wild Child Show. A 15-25 minute episode that follows a singular theme. Alli jokes that I’m like a Hawaiian Mr. Rogers now. Ha! Themes for the show range from One Love to May the Fourth Be With You (Star Wars) to Ocean Day.

We also started Zoom classes and Zoom Birthday Parties. We began offering outdoor classes and started safely offering small, in-person classes again. You can find us today at The Platform in Culver City, an incredible space creatively serving up new ways to support the community during these tricky times and supporting small businesses as they go. We also have classes at Carlson Park, Monday-Saturday. We now offer our In The Wild (Child) private classes, where we bring the play to backyards and parks around the city for private groups. Very popular with Quaran-teams, families, pods and trusted friends, etc. We hold the highest safety and health standards, going above and beyond what is required. We understand the critical need for safe social interaction and basic child development. Families have been neglected and need support now more than ever. It’s essential. We never expected the different twists and turns our business would experience in its infancy, but we are excited. We are excited about the new offerings we have in our toolbox. The community support has been overwhelming. And we know whenever things get back to normal (whenever that may be), we’ll be stronger, smarter, better than ever.

As you know, we’re big fans of Wild Child Gym. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Apart from what was detailed in previous answers, I think the thing most parents comment about, outside our fantastic programming, beautiful space, locally-sourced eco-friendly equipment and toys. and our thoughtful, fun and entertaining employees is the cleanliness of our studio. We have a child-sized handwashing station, hand sanitizers at every entry point, (multiple) daily cleanings with non-toxic supplies, and a strict wellness policy for both families and our employees. As parents, we recognize the importance of a healthy, safe and clean space for kids to be free.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
The biggest lesson we learned was our impact on the community. Part of what fueled us continuing to pivot and provide new and exciting offerings is because we recognized that parents and families relied on us and we couldn’t let them down. As 2020 came to a close and we reflected on what felt like a lost year, dozens of families took the time to reach out to us and express their gratitude for how we pressed on in a year full of heartache, desperation and fear. That meant the world to us. We have been emboldened from this experience and believe we have uncovered another way to impact children and families in a positive way. And now with an international reach! We love hearing from families around the globe taking part of Wild Child virtually and seeing our programming break barriers we hadn’t yet imagined possible. Born from the pandemic, the pivot from in-studio classes to virtual programming uncovered a white space and true need in the entertainment market, specifically for young children: Active, Interactive Entertainment. Quality programming structured by age-appropriate activities highlighting areas of development through interactive play. An essential mix of mental and physical engagement to keep short attention spans + busy bodies entertained. Not to mention a guilt-free break or exhausted parents. We are excited to discover this new frontier and see where it leads us while anticipating the reopening of our studio.

Pricing:

  • Signature Classes: 4-week session – $100, Drop-In – $30
  • @Home with Wild Child Gym (virtual) – $89/month
  • Wild Child Parties start at $650
  • Zoom Wild Child Parties start at $250
  • In The Wild (Child) private classes start at $165

Contact Info:


Image Credits:

Jennifer May Daniel Lewin

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