Episode 04: From Co-Op Mom to Toy Library Owner, with Lisa Bourven

February 16, 2021

When I started my photography business, I didn’t have a ton of experience — let’s just say I needed to brush off the dust on my camera that was jammed in the back of the closet! I’ve found that one of the biggest obstacles people (women, in particular) have when thinking about starting a business is not realizing their hidden passions and talent. My guest this week is the perfect example of someone who allowed an idea to grow, did the work to set herself up and launched a business she is proud of!

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04. From Co-Op Parent to Toy Library Owner, with Lisa Bourven

I’ve found that one of the biggest obstacles people (women, in particular) have when thinking about starting a business is not realizing their hidden passions and talent. My guest this week is the perfect example of someone who allowed an idea to grow, did the work to set herself up and launched a business she is proud of!

Lisa Bourven is a mom of two in Northern Virginia and the founder of The Toy Nest; a toy rental library — yes, just like you rent books, you can rent toys!! What I found most inspiring was that Lisa hadn’t been sitting on this exact idea for years, she didn’t have an extensive background in the toy library space (though, does anyone? haha), but she saw a need, listened to her intuition (and all her mom friends begging for a solution) and decided she needed to start this! 

Lisa breaks down her background, starting with her career in retail operation and executive management. After she took a break from the corporate world to have kiddos, she continued to find work and passions to focus her energy into. She started teaching jazzercise classes (umm, hello, so cool!), coordinating a MOPs group and was a part of her children’s co-op preschool. 

Through this wide range of work and life experiences she was able to gain insight into how women and mothers thought, what their pain points were and what they needed. What she found was that the excess clutter and constant cleaning up after kids was a central complaint. Heck, she saw it herself at every play date she went on!

Looking back, many of these roles had planted a seed for The Toy Nest before she even knew it!

She started googling for a solution– just like the rest of us do!– and saw that the idea of a rental toy library existed, but not near her! She had the foresight to realize that her youngest was going to be in school full time soon and decided to dive in and lay the ground to launch by that time.

However, just like most plans we make, it didn’t go according to the timeline she had laid out! Setback after setback arose, but she continued to push through — though you’ll never guess what almost sunk her idea before it even started. After a year of gathering toys, building an email list (before she even had a store!!), and locating a physical location, Lisa opened in March 2020 — YES, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC!! She has had to learn and adjust more this year than most first-time founders have, but it hasn’t slowed her passion or optimism. 

Lisa explains the importance of not having to do everything at once. She attributes the base of her early success largely to her web development and design team who helped her establish the brand before she found a physical location! She also reveals her biggest piece of advice, and, take it from me, you’ll want to pay attention!

Lisa gives specific and practical advice for those who are looking to find a career, or side gig in something they love that also makes sense for their family financially. She also gives a raw and honest update on how she is feeling mentally with everything going on – and I doubt she’s alone in her feelings! Regardless of the current situation, she tells me how she is being proactive about her future so she is not stressing and scrambling later (I need tips on this ha).

Finally, she leaves us with some real talk — life as a mother is a JUGGLE! Whether you stay at home or work, the pace is crazy regardless. She also leaves me with some tips on finding balance — which if you listened to my last episode you know I’m working on!

Make sure to stay in touch and in the know on all things The Toy Nest on Facebook and Instagram — you wont be disappointed!

I am overwhelmed with the love and support for this podcast since it launched. This started as an idea and as I continue to read the reviews and your message, I can really see the impact this show is already making. I appreciate you taking any time out of your day to listen and am so grateful for all the reviews — remember when you rate and review you will receive 50% off my mobile presets!

You can listen to episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, iheart Radio and Stitcher!

Full Transcript:

Dana: Are you dying at the thought of missing a single one of your baby’s first would have no idea how you’d give up the security that your nine to five job brings. My name is Dana Graham and I had no clue how to escape that vicious 40 Hour Workweek cycle either until I did, as the wife of a traveling husband and mom of two tiny humans, I made the terrifying and totally bizarre leap from health insurance broker to successful newborn and family photographer, all with the amazing craziness of a two year old and the newborn in tow. But I’m not the only one. I’m so glad you’re joining me as I chat with other moms who took the leap into entrepreneurship and created the ultimate best of both worlds life doing it all, amidst the chaos.

Okay hi everybody we’re here for another episode today I have Lisa Boivin. Here with me, she is the owner and founder of the toy nest, which is a toy library here in Falls Church she’s actually right around the corner from me so I have somebody local today which is great. So I just wanted to invite her on and give you kind of a quick background for her, she’s a mom of two in elementary school, so pretty exciting and she’s just started her business within the past couple of years here, so welcome Lisa, thanks for being here.

Lisa: Thank you for having me

Dana: We’re so excited so give us a quick background kind of what your life looked like for the year before you started the toy nest and what it looks like now how you kind of came to this decision that this was going to be the right plan for you and your family.

Lisa: Yeah, so my background was in retail operations and executive management, and sales analysis, so I brought a business background to this, and then I stopped working, and had kids, so I was home with my kids for almost nine years. And during that time, you know the energy never goes away to do something right so even though you’re caring for kids and changing diapers. You always want to keep creating and, you know, be involved with things so for me it was gardening and I got bored with that you know to do other things I taught aerobics Jazzercise for nine years, and, and then got involved with the mothers of preschoolers group maths and took a leadership position with them to my local chapter, started in the, the child, not really childcare but just helping the childcare folks there, and then ended up, coordinating a group for two years. So that means just running the group with another mom, so Wow, I did that and we had about 75 moms and so that really gave me an insight into how women think how moms think what their needs are, what the issues were, you know surrounding their lives at home with kids and many of them had been working moms before and stay at home moms you know with kids, So, I just I got to see what what the needs were and that was a real experience. And what came up a lot around the table, because we had small groups in that group was was just the the cleaner at home, the excess, the, the cleaning up after their kids all the time. So I go on playdates and see this firsthand in people’s homes and in my own home. So, this is just kind of planting the seed I think for, for what would become the twin escalator, but I didn’t know that of course at the time, right. I just thought, and so I was doing that, and I also was involved with a cooperative preschool locally so my family was in that for five years. And as part of that we, we, the parents, basically did everything we had paid teachers at the school, but we were the the helpers the classroom aides, so we would be in the classroom working with our kids, right, for, you know, two and a half hours once or twice a month, and we get to see hands on how they played with the played with who they played with how they played and it was such an insight into what makes kids tick and just what made my own kids tick, and I really gained a lot of knowledge about how to how to deal with kids because I didn’t know a lot about kids you know going into parenthood like Right, right. So, so those two experiences between moms, and our preschool here were tremendous and again it was just planting another seed for the importance of play, and I saw my kids you know go from shy kids into thriving young little people, and developing interests thanks to all the tools that they have in the classroom with them and I get to be part of it so it was, it was significant. So that was, that was my experience and what led me I think to do this was a trip to visit my parents with my kids, my husband wasn’t with us and was a two way trip in the summer to Texas and if you know Texas it’s hot and there’s not a lot to do outside in July. And we found ourselves with no ride on toys, and no trucks or anything like that for that my son was interested in playing with. So we went to a goodwill, down the street from my parents didn’t find we’re looking for. And I was just frustrated that you know you couldn’t borrow or rent toys, very easily, so it planted another seed and when I got home, I started Googling, but I thought this would be this idea of a toy library. And it turns out that they already existed. And they were you know quite common in other parts of the world and spread throughout the US, but in little pockets. And so I just got to work on putting one together.

Dana: You know I obviously think it’s a fantastic idea we live in a very small home and so the idea of like bringing a toy in and then it vacating the premises once my kids were done we are done with it is genius. One of those things that you’re like wow I didn’t think of that and it’s funny that you know you went to Google and you don’t even know what to Google but you found that there was something and it’s great that this area didn’t have anything like that which is surprising because it’s a huge, I mean, so many people in our area, live in really small homes and are kind of on top of each other in the city so you know it’s great that there was something here. So when you kind of thought to start this Where were you, Mom lies like where were how old were your kids did you have the ability to go back where your kids in school already or how did that work with, you know, starting a business and having your kids around.

Lisa: Yeah, great question. I had the itch to start a business, when my kids were much younger but I didn’t know what business it was going right. And so I thought a long time about what it would be and when this idea came to me it was right before my son started his last year of preschool, and my daughter was already an elementary school full time, so I think that’s crucial because I could see the light of the at the end of the tunnel for my kids and preschool years. And so I knew that I had about nine months, or 12 months, let’s say before he started school full time in kindergarten. I was planning to start work full time that kid. The summer before he started kindergarten, it didn’t work out that way. But anyway, yeah I knew that I had that stretch. And so the plan was to get everything ready for the toy nest, so that I could just hit the ground running when he was in school full time, and so I would spend mornings, when he was in preschool, researching, and reviewing, you know, input from other people I had done a survey and. And so I would just spend every minute I had when they were away at the same time on this but I could not have done that if I had to change diapers if I, you know, wasn’t well rested if my kids weren’t sleeping through the night I could not imagine doing this business, this job, kids in a, in a younger state.

Dana: Yeah, and I think that’s important too because, recognizing that, I think as a first time mom so when my daughter was younger and then when she was turning to my son was just born and you were talking about the light at the end of the tunnel and you know, in the sense of them going to school and you be able to kind of start this business, I think there are a lot of lights at the end of the tunnel and motherhood, I mean I know that even now with my kids at two and four, it’s a whole different world, and me running my business now like, it is a lot different than it was two years ago, I mean in two years makes a huge difference, but I think it’s hard to recognize that when you’re in the moment. And I think those years that you were home with your kids and itching to start something and ready to do something I think that is a hard time. I mean I do think, you know, the idea that you’ll have it. Someday when toddlerhood is a little bit tough, but it’s really cool that you recognize like hey this is coming up in a year like I know in a year, my life’s gonna look a lot different and I think having that first child already in elementary school, you kind of see the light. You know there’s already kind of see what life’s gonna be like, for me that’s like totally unimaginable right now, I mean it in COVID times to your kids or that’s a whole other story, But, I mean, once you get that first kid there, I think that should give a lot of encouragement to moms remember like hey, you’ll see a glimpse of new life and not that you want to wish time away either. And that’s something that I, I feel really strongly about is that you know talking about hey a light at the end of the tunnel I don’t necessarily just mean, you know, I don’t mean it about, you know, wishing away that time with your kids or not being with your babies while they’re little, I totally am on board with you know spending, soaking up all the time you can, but it is important to know that, you know, the years are going to go by and then you will have the time to be able to do something you want to do so I think it does give a lot of hope to a lot of people to see that hey you’ve started this you know right after your kids are in school, so that’s really really really cool. I’m. I am not jealous, but I do, I do appreciate the perspective for sure. So tell me a little bit about the toy nest in general, how long did it take you to really get started up and you know getting the lease and all the things like was it something that you had familiarity with, and then, you know, gathering all the toys and how operations work on a day to day basis.

Lisa: Yeah, so it took me about a year together toys. I did it a variety of ways. I had a lot of friends, people that I knew that I contacted so they would just bring me things, many things were donations. Some people wanted some sort of store credit in the future for toys. I went to yard sales, I mean, again back to any free time that I had, I would just get on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist, next door, and just, you know I’ve stopped in front of people’s yards and grab free things at the curb I’ve done just about everything to get toys, and I then had to sift through them all, And find a place in my home for them, which is no small feat, given the size of homes around here, mine included, so that was, that was all interesting and took up a third of my house for about a year. So that was part of it, of course, and then there was finding the space so I signed my lease in. While I started looking for my space in the summer of 2019 and found a space, and had to get insurance for it, which, if you’re a toy library is extremely difficult, it’s something you don’t even think about but yeah that was, That was a challenge that must sense the business before it started. Wow, yeah. So that was, that was a big hurdle to overcome. And then signed the lease in November of 2019, much later than was anticipated and I thought that I’d be open by the winter at the latest, and then just, just, you know, things that happen with buildings and permits and build out everything took longer than I thought it would. So by the time I finally open I was in the middle of a pandemic event on March 30 and wasn’t able to open in person at that time because as we all know, there was a crisis upon us, and the next day the governor shut the state down for the stay at home, order so that’s, that was the timeline, I’ll back up to the beginning of 2019 Because a critical piece of what I did was the branding, before I ever found the space or opened the store. And so finding the right brand and building that that image that persona whatever you want around it was, was so important because I was able to, Thanks to the advice in my wonderful graphics design and web team put out a landing page to start collecting email addresses and names of people who would be interested in frequenting the business once I opened. So that was that was critical. I’m so glad I did it and then, you know, ultimately launched the full website when I was finally able to open in March, having just a presence online and on social media with a brand and a logo and an email address that people could contact before I was able to physically be present was really really important in launching the business.

Dana: Yeah and I think, you know, I obviously this obviously speaks to this but you don’t have to do everything at once, right. You didn’t have to have your full website up and running, but the fact that your team, you know recommended that you go ahead and just get something out there. It’s huge, it’s, there’s this massive snowball effect that happens when you even just have one small piece of yourself out there, and I think, you know a lot of times when starting a business, you’re like okay I have to get all these ducks in a row before I can even tell anybody that it’s happening, you know, and I think that you know people are going to be way more supportive than you think and if they just know about it. It’s something that they can support in some way or another, so I think it’s great that you that you are able to do that. So, are you seeing, you know a lot of the people that you gathered on that email list, what is that almost two years ago now, the email list started because I didn’t start I had a preliminary email list in 2018 that I was just keeping it was people that I knew about 150 people, and then the landing page 2019

Dana: So in those two years, and obviously your list has grown since then and all the customers that come in, go, go on to that email list, are you able to track and see the metrics on how many of those clients those original like email subscribers are still contributing and visiting and participating in the test.

Lisa: Yeah, I don’t have percentages to give you right now but anecdotally I can just tell you that a huge portion of the initial contacts even from prior to the landing page list are current customers members, and if they are not they’ve told their friends. So my biggest recommendation to anybody looking to start something would be to just know people. And really, you know keep contacts of everybody, even if you don’t think they’re people who would ever frequent your business, because they’re going to tell somebody who would. And, you know, they’ll invite friends and that’s how it works and that’s been so helpful, and people are a lot more supportive than you think I mean, like you said, even people that you know maybe don’t even have kids or you know aren’t in the space at all. They want the best for you. Generally, this is a very interesting market here for you because you’re the one and only, I mean, from here to, what did you say Philly was the closest

Dana: Yeah, are there, I mean that’s three hours away so that’s very very cool and I think having your own little niche here has been really awesome, awesome for you and in the city too. It’s great to have something that’s like in too little downtown fall shirt. So when you went to start this obviously we know that you got all of your backend research done in those years that your kids were growing up and doing the preschool and all the things. What else has kind of contributed to you being so successful in this You’re obviously incredibly motivated and you obviously had the drive to do something, but is there any other like personality trait that you think really helped you to be able to make this successful?

Lisa: Well, so I’ll go back to knowing people. And I can’t overemphasize that enough, this place would not be here without all the people who have helped me along the way and I truly mean that. I mean, I think it was March, 17th or the 24th I don’t know it was right before the pandemic and I had a work day I invited my closest friends to come help me literally stocked the shelves and put things in boxes and get them up, you know, put in place, and I just paid them with pizza and all day and helps me. We had ships coming in and out all day, my husband, you know, is incredibly handy he’s an engineer and so he is the one who repairs our toys or glues them or whatever comes up with creative solutions to keep them going. If something small happens to them of course I pull things that are unsafe but yeah so my husband and then I have friends who have stepped up to do data entry along the way. I mean in a big way. Wow, continue to help me deal with the bottleneck of, of getting items in the catalog because that is truly what what holds me up the most it’s, there’s a lot of data entry that has to happen so I have a couple of friends helping with that right now. Always. And then, just, just the word of mouth, that the goodwill of people sharing with friends, like I said, I can’t overemphasize it so, you know, knowing people is really important. And, you know I’m a person of faith, a Christian faith and I just, this is something that I prayed about for a long time before starting the business, and I felt like it was the right thing to do, so I wouldn’t have gone that direction. Otherwise, because there were some other businesses like I mentioned, and I did not go those directions and I’m so glad that I didn’t.

Dana: Yeah and it’s you know, hindsight is 2020 and I’m glad you’re on the happy end of. I’m so glad I didn’t you know but when you’re starting a business and you’re thinking, I mean for me, I, I had a camera, like, I had a nice my mom, my parents gave me a like a quote unquote nice camera for my, for our wedding anniversary or wedding gift. And I had it in the back of the closet and it was dusty and I love taking pictures of my kids on my phone, but I never really even used it before I decided hey, that’s what I want to do, but I knew that I was super passionate I was passionate about capturing moments with my kids and so I figured I could translate that pretty easily, but that was the thing behind it I loved having the pictures of my kids I do everything with the photos and all the different things so for me I knew that that was where I wanted to go, you know for you. Obviously you had all this background and you knew exactly like, hey, we need this is a need and I know what I can put in it to make it be successful. I think a lot of people don’t have that, I think there’s a lot of situations where they are kind of missing that piece of, hey, what could I do that I would enjoy that could also be a good thing for our family. And so, you know, I appreciate that it took you kind of a little bit to get there, I mean it did and you had other options too, but what would you kind of recommend for anybody who was in a situation where they knew they wanted to do something, but they didn’t know quite what.

Lisa: That was a tough question, because I just think you have to look where the need is, and it might not be what you want to do. Right. So, in fact it might be what you don’t like to do and let me just explain what I mean by that moms, I heard over and over that moms hated to pick up toys after their kids, they hated the clutter, they hated the expense, the waste. So, I personally don’t like picking up the toys that after my kids and organizing the playroom every night you know when they were younger, now they do it themselves. But, but that wasn’t, I’ll be honest, it was not my passion, going into this business to do that. And so I think that you have to look at the need and the need is to solve that problem you have to find the problem, and figure out okay what is a way that we could solve it. And in this case you know the problem being too much clutter too much expense on toys, our planet, which is in desperate need of less plastic right, and also a place for families to gather and play outside their homes, you look at these problems, and could we solve it. Yeah, so I would just encourage people to look for the problems, and, and lean into them and dive in and really try to figure out what it is that they could do to solve those problems and not necessarily. I love doing this thing, and then do it but without thinking about, well is this exactly solving somebody’s problem.

Dana: No, that’s a great, great answer and it’s funny too, because we, my, my husband and brother in law are always trying to think of, you know, the next thing that they want to do and we we joke like, you know, why didn’t we think of that, why don’t we come up with that and the difference here is it doesn’t have to be a physical product, it doesn’t have to be like one thing that you invented that you’re able to market and sell it can be a service you know and I think this service is almost an in between of that a little bit because there really isn’t anything like that around here, but it’s creative and that’s I think that’s where you do have to take the time to really dive in and see where that need is like you talked about, and it takes a little bit. And I think for me, there was a there was this mounting pressure of like, I’m going back to work and I need to find something, and it didn’t give me the time to be as creative, and I think now I’m sort of branching into the creativity and you know launching this podcast and doing a couple other things outside of just being a photographer that got me there So jump in and even if you don’t like it, go ahead and do it and I did like what I done but now also, here I am a few years later, being able to pivot a little bit. And so it’s important to remember hey you’re not just stuck with whatever you decide, you have the ability to kind of pivot that and you have to do that as soon as the train is open, I mean you went from not having to have anyone actually just play in here at all and you immediately pivoted and only offered and put all your effort into having people come by and pick up toys to rent them, so I think it’s nice to and encouraging for people to see that you can make a decision on how you want your business to be but it doesn’t have to stay exactly like that forever and ever. And I think, I think that’s important because I didn’t really realize that, starting out either, so it’s good perspective for sure. So, obviously this is still a little bit new hustlers still definitely you’re in the midst of the hustle for sure and then the pandemic came, and I know you you’re said your family and husband are so supportive and helpful. How did you, how are you feeling about, you know, moving forward, are you feeling, are you having a hard time, you know, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic kind of close to the end. How do you feel as a business owner, mentally right now I know everybody’s like so crazy.

Lisa: I’m feeling a little frazzled, to be honest, because I’m getting ready for what’s to come. I think that when, when the vaccine is widely spread. I think the business will get a lot busier, so I’m just, I’m frantically preparing right now for what that will look like in terms of employees and training and inventory and space, there’s just so much to think about. My main concern is employees, because right now I am the only one working six days a week. I’m tired so I need some help and I don’t want to wait until it gets really busy, late start training that help right starting now.

Dana: That’s great, that’s a whole other aspect of being a business owner and once you’re at that point where you are hiring employees and and doing all the different things it does bring in a difference and you know you’ve had this kind of past year to, to have to pivot and think about it differently and I feel like I would be frazzled too so I you know I appreciate that you’re open about it, that’s kind of the life of being an entrepreneur is that there’s always the next thing coming and some level of frazzle and so kind of started this podcast to show people that, hey, like, you don’t have to be anybody else’s employee you can be your own boss, you can do something even if it’s something little, this is not little. Do a little thing here which is, which is amazing. I’m glad that you know we could be honest because files old is even with me without employees in the small business. There’s always a level the next level of frazzle, and you know you don’t want to paint, not a pretty picture for being an entrepreneur because obviously you know you want. There are so many freedoms and good things that come out of you having this business and you being the boss here. But it’s important to remember that everybody is going to have a struggle, no matter what you’re doing. There’s always some sort of struggle, it’s just the struggle you choose to have can be different. So, if you were going to talk to anybody about starting something like this you know in other parts of the country was there, was there any resource that you missed or anything really important for you that kind of helped you start this and figure out exactly what you needed and how to get going.

Lisa: Well, so I did look a lot at the USA toy Library Association website. But I think the most informational thing I did was I visited spent a day with the toy library down in Austin, Texas. Just few hours drive from my parents house so I took that into a trip to visit them, did that, let’s see. It was the summer before it opened, so all my dates are running together it just feels like one, one big work session. But, yeah, I spent a day with Eliza and just saw how she runs things, and that was very helpful to see what another toy Park Library looks like, and of course I went a lot on the websites of the toy libraries in Australia, and there’s an international toy Library Association too so there they have less more documentation than we have here in the US, about how it all works because they’ve been doing it for a long time and they’re very popular over there. Wow, New Zealand, too. So I did that. And I just also want to give a shout out and huge thank you to my web design team the graphics design team, I mean they helped me in the very beginning really sort of figure out the brand, and so I think, I think that’s really really important because the brand resonates with people so yes it’s important to figure out the nuts and bolts of your toy library but really think about what is it that you want to add to it and make your own, and how are you going to brand that because that speaks to people.

Dana: Well yeah, you can have this whole business that you’ve built, but if people don’t know about it and don’t relate to it and don’t relate to you then. How are they supposed to really, you know, invest themselves and their time into it, as you said, you know, reaching out to somebody who’s done this, it’s important to be able to talk to anybody that’s in the industry, even if even a related industry is good I mean she probably doesn’t do very much exactly the same as you do, you know, and it’s nice to see that different aspects of anybody’s, you know, looking to start a business has spent any amount of time with somebody that knows what they’re doing and in that space.

Dana: I think it’s going to be valuable for sure. Okay in wrapping up a little bit here, give me like kind of a picture of what your day looked like before you started the toy nest in terms of like okay I woke up and I did you know I ate breakfast and then I did this versus now, how does your life look different.

Lisa: Okay, do you want to know my stay at home mom life.

Dana: Yeah,

Lisa: so, I was a Jazzercise instructor so cool, started teaching my daughter when I was pregnant with her actually my first so I would wake up, you know, five is between five and 530, and have a very quick cup of coffee and start working on routines that I was going to teach that week. Memorizing so I get my workout in, and also just practice, and the showers and then let’s let’s say the kids are in preschool at this point so, you know, we take them to preschool after doing the frantic breakfast running around. We’ll do preschool. Some days I’d work in the classroom, let’s pretend I’m not working in the classroom that day so, you know, let’s pretend this is before the toy class way before the toy. So I go in the garden when they’re in preschool and just do some gardening for myself, have some time for me because I’d love to grow vegetables and flowers, and then pick them up and the craziness starts. Let’s be honest. So, lunch and maybe a few tantrums along the way and then at that point I don’t think my kids are napping. When they’re both in preschool so I would just try to go into DC or do something fun, we love Greenspring gardens. Although, I mean, there’s so much to do around so lucky. So a park down the street from us anything. And then I tried to get the kids involved in the kitchen helping make dinner and things but only one of them was interested too. And somewhere along the way during the day I’m sure there was some floor time with Legos and, you know, something dollars who knows a game, if I could get the kids corralled long enough to sit for that. And then we do dinner my husband tends to work long hours. So sometimes that’s dinner, just the three of us sometimes it’s with my husband or if I could get the kids to wait long enough, we’d have dinner with him. And then bed so yeah that’s the life of a stay at home mom yeah, not always glamorous. Yeah, but busy. Absolutely. And life now yes yeah life at the toy nest. Okay, so I still get up between five and 530, you’re ambitious, And I tried to get in a workout but it doesn’t always happen sometimes maybe just to walk around the neighborhood. I try to get here. Well I always work before I get you’re just checking emails and looking at sales and those types of things, adding items to the system, and come in, no later than 830 and try to pull the orders for the day, because I still do curbside pickup so I’m running around, pulling reservations for members. And then, you know, cleaning, doing the glamorous, things like cleaning toilets and vacuuming and I do it all so I do that as well. And reshelving items from the day before, you know, hanging anything that got washed in my house because I washed all the the dress ups at my house and the washing machine, unloading the dishwasher if there were toys in there from the day before so, You know, these are hands on. Yeah, in many ways the job hasn’t changed my mom years. So, I’m kind of used to it, but I try to get that stuff done in the morning because I really like to focus on people when they come in and spend time chatting with them, and then, you know, during the day, I’m always adding new items to the system that’s really the bottleneck, as I mentioned earlier, keeping inventory, you know, fresh, pulling stuff that’s not very popular so working on that at any downtime I have during the day and things people are always coming by, with, with toy swaps, So members are coming curbside throughout the day even if they’re not here to play. Members are coming to drop off old toys and pick up their new batch so I have to clean those toys and they come in and make sure that they’re you know sanitized for to go back out on the shelf so that’s always happening throughout the day. At some point I’d like to sneak in lunch. Maybe I still bring. So sneaking a quick lunch, and the day just flies by truly I never know where the time goes by the time it’s five o’clock it just, it’s so much fun. I’m rushing home to make dinner because I still cook dinner for my family. And, you know, do read stories with my kids, my son is in first grade so he’s starting to read, and that’s exciting. I have him read a book to me every day, and you know some days I’ll stop by the grocery store on the way home and it’s a late night and I get home at 630 So, it’s just a juggle, whether you’re a stay at home or whether you’re working full time, it’s, it’s a juggle

Dana: It is, and you know it’s funny you say, either way it’s a juggle because there’s just the pace is just crazy, regardless if you have children. The pace is crazy. I mean it is no matter if you’re, you’re home with them or not it’s just, it’s always something, there’s always something so are your kids ever, ever come to ever do they ever come up and hang out. They do, yeah they were here yesterday so

Lisa: They do, yeah they were here yesterday, my husband had a dentist appointment. Early in the morning so I brought my kids, and got them started on Virtual School here at the tables where we’re sitting, because then you know Fairfax County virtual school right now. So, they started their day with me and then he picked them up, you know, an hour later but uh yeah it’s great to have a business where kids are welcomed right, and that’s not by accident. Yeah, I wanted them to feel welcome, wherever I was. So, they’re here sometimes on the weekends helping and yesterday actually my son. Six years old wanted to do a job for me he wants to start making money so he wanted me to give him a job and he brought his little bag for change. So I gave him some things to count, before we put them away. And that was, that was good for him so he made a corner yesterday morning.

Dana: That was so awesome I mean really, and you know, in COVID times it’s obviously a little bit weird but like, just, even in the next imagine like having them here as they’re growing up and being able to help you and run things around here and see you working, you know, actively watching their mom, you know, to her job and run this business I think that is so cool. Okay So Lisa, thank you so much for coming online, I do want everybody to be able to find you. So tell me, give us your website your Instagram, your Facebook all the thing course.

Lisa: So on the web, we are at the toynest.com , and on Instagram, it’s the toy nest, and Facebook, it’s the toy nest dot toy library.

Dana: Okay, great. Well awesome so, is there anything else that you wanted to make sure everybody knows or anything any words of encouragement you can give to somebody looking to start their own venture.

Lisa: Yeah I think finding balance is important, so whatever you do, just take a little time for yourself every day. So, you know, this morning I read a chapter to my, my book that I’m reading right now, a fiction book right before I got to work right after, you know, I woke up so I just think whatever it is, find that that time, cultivate your relationships and really spend time with people you care about, because they will help you out at some point in the future and that can be helpful to you in your business, that would be the advice.

Dana: Great, well thank you so much again, this is perfect and I, I so appreciate you doing this, I’m excited for everybody to hear.

Lisa: Thank you.

Dana: All right thanks Lisa. I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and read more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website and amidstthechaospodcast.com for show notes and links to anything which made today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it would mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to rate and review. Thanks for joining me, amidst the chaos.

  1. […] spoke with Lisa last week about the creation of The Toy Nest. She had the rare experience of seeing a problem, […]

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