Erin Clark’s business, Recharge & Play Wellness Café, provides the kind of service parents and families really needed in 2020: a place in the community where all are welcome to be themselves and feel safe to relax.
Recharge & Play Wellness Café offers services found in many holistic health practices - massage and occupational therapy, physiotherapy, reflexology, aesthetics, nutritional counselling, social workers and lactation consultants.
The big difference? A giant 3000 sq. ft. indoor playground and a healthy-foods cafe in the same facility.
Recharge & Play offers professionally staffed child-minding services for children ages birth to 12 while parents and caregivers are able to book self-care appointments in the clinic for themselves.
“We have coffee, couches, and a two-storey climbing structure for kids! We wanted it to be that place where you can come and hang out all day and not have a care in the world,” said Clark.
Based on their own experiences as parents and practicing massage therapists, Clark and her business partner Sarah McQueen “saw a need in the community for a place where both children and parents could come and have their needs met.”
The lack of occasional and short-term childcare is a common barrier for many parents and caregivers trying to find time for their own needs.
“We were just hitting our stride in our first year when the pandemic hit in March 2020. We had to close just one week shy of our one-year anniversary,” recalls Clark.
Recharge & Play pivoted the business to offer additional self-care services when they reopened 4 months later. Clark offered co-working space in a cohort format for parents working from home during the pandemic but still needing a place to connect for community and health. Parents were able to work in blocks of time while children were supervised and engaged in activities and play.
Clark credits the Grow My Business Accelerator at the Laurier Women Entrepreneurship Centre for assistance during their re-opening phase. Clark came into the program with a laser focus on marketing. She wanted to “find better ways to market [Recharge & Play] in the current climate” while staying true to their community and health-based business values. While it’s an ongoing effort to refine their marketing messages, they dove into some new online platforms, like LinkedIn, where they could develop new networks and connections.
“Honestly,” Clark adds, “[the program], has been helpful for my mental state. When the pandemic hit, it really affected our hope for the future. But it’s encouraging to see others at the start of their journey, especially brick and mortar businesses.”
Clark knows the need to maintain self-care is more important than ever as families face new uncertainties and stress during the pandemic. Their hope is rooted in their values of kindness, community and equality that provide a safe place for families from all walks of life.
The Women Entrepreneurship Centre (WEC), as part of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs of every age, stage and culture to achieve their business dreams. We believe in fostering leadership. We believe that everyone deserves an equal shot at success. We believe in connecting you with the right people, skills and support to make it happen.
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