If you pay attention to demographics, there’s a large group of 25 to 35-year-olds in and around the Wedge. With the need to play in mind, Jenna Chew has opened Hippity Hip Community Playspace at 131 Gregory St. It’s a cozy and safe spot for parents and their children (ages 0-7 years) to play, learn and mingle. Jenna saw that the city had museums and playgrounds, but lacked an eco-friendly play space. Hippity Hip will also host private parties and special events outside of open play times. If you can, imagine a safe, open space where children and adults an relax and enjoy the party while Jenna’s team does the prep, set-up, and clean-up. Jenna offers bundles for custom parties.
Jenna grew up in the Southern Tier on a few rural acres of land. Her dad was a union carpenter who commuted to Buffalo while her Mom worked in the home raising her and her two siblings. She spent hours outdoors in the fresh air and used her imagination to stay busy.
Regarding her childhood, Jenna says, “Much of my childhood was spent engaging in child directed free play. Sometimes independently and other times with my older brother, younger sister, or neighborhood friends. My Mom was really wonderful at involving us in gardening, crafting and tending to our small farm but much of the time we were left to our own devises and it was expected that we use our boredom as a catalyst of play. I spent building forts in the woods, designing doll furniture from recycled materials and catching crayfish from the stream that ran through our yard. It wasn’t until I was in Graduate School at Nazareth College studying Early Childhood Education, that I realized how fortunate I was to have had a childhood filled with so much time for unstructured play. When I realized that there was a serious lack of indoor play environments in the City of Rochester, it seemed perfect to use my background in Early Childhood Development and my love of play to bring more options to the families in our community!”
In October, 65 backers pledged $5,108 to help bring her project to life and now it’s up and running. No surprise, Jenna and her husband, Thomas are parents of a daughter Mabel, age 5 and son Maslo, age 3.
Q&A with Jenna
Who are your mentors, heroes or role models?
I’m not sure that I could pick just one! I’m constantly inspired by all of those who work tirelessly to shine a light on the importance of early child development and the critical need for family support, especially during the first few years of becoming a parent. The first 7 years of a child’s life are such a monumental time for brain development but they’re also some of the toughest years to parent a child. From the founding childhood developmental theorist who lay the groundwork, to the parents putting in the hard work everyday, I’m inspired by the village it takes to raise a child!
What obstacles have you overcome? What was your lowest moment?
Finding the balance between life at home and the startup of a small business has been by far my biggest challenge to date. There are so many moving parts and small details to owning a business that can quickly consume the days. But I’m the Mama of two awesome little ones, ages 5 and 3 years who are both my biggest inspiration and the most demanding of my time! They keep me grounded in the vision and purpose of bringing Hippity Hip to our community when the business management aspect feels overwhelming.
Current bio: family, pets, and how they do or don’t relate to your business dreams?
At home I live with my wonderful husband, Thomas and our two little people, daughter Mabel, age 5 and son Maslo, age 3. While Thomas doesn’t officially have his hands in the business (he spends his days as a local college administrator), he has been there every step of the way lending support in all ways possible. Our two littles are the biggest inspiration for Hippity Hip. Observing their development and their needs has been one of the best motivators to opening Hippity Hip. Everyday they push me to want more options for children within our community.
Goals for this year and beyond?
In the next year, I hope to continue to offer an ultra child-friendly hangout space and central spot where local families meet, connect, and socialize in the city. We’d love to continue to make connections and collaborate with other small business owners and organizations in Rochester to offer even more options for family events in the community. Oh, and balance! I’ll forever be seeking that perfect balance between life at home and life at Hippity Hip.
Hippity Hip Community Play Space
131 Gregory Street
Drop-in Play Times:
Tuesday-Friday: 9:30am-1:30pm & Saturday / 9:00am-noon
Private Party Times:
Weekdays: Pick your own 2 hour block between 4:30pm-8:00pm!
Saturday: 1:30pm-3:30pm & 4:30pm-6:30pm
Sunday: 10:00am-12:00pm, 1:30pm-3:30pm & 4:30pm-6:30pm