Having a baby is like signing up for the most research-intensive job you've ever had. Aside from the fact that your baby develops at the speed of light, you've got to stay on top of the best foods, books, toys, sounds, schedules, and more for each stage in their development. It can add another layer of weariness to your already permanent state of exhaustion. That's why friends Amy Mabry and Regina Rice Paquette started Skip and Play, a subscription toy service that — finally! — selects the best children's toys for each developmental phase, so you don't have to.
The two founders grew up on opposite sides of the continent — Mabry in Orlando, FL and Rice Paquette in Honolulu, HI — but fate brought them both to Los Angeles where they met through mutual friends. Eventually they moved to the east coast and started Skip and Play while both were living in Manhattan. (Rice Paquette still lives in the big apple while Mabry is just a stone's throw away in New Jersey). For the two women, who are among Romper's 2017 Made It Award honorees, the abundance of Amazon reviews, Facebook group recommendations, and articles about which toys to get your kid at which age only added to their confusion. Their business was birthed out of their mutual desire dot make toy shopping easy for parents and, even more importantly, beneficial for kids.
Skip and Play delivers packages of age-appropriate toys for kids from the newborn stage to 4 years old. Each item is handpicked to ensure that it is both developmentally helpful and aesthetically pleasing. The pair of friends put their heart and soul into choosing each toy that is included, and the beauty shows in each and every package.
Without knowing it though, their research for Skip and Play started well before they realized they wanted to launch the company.
With two masters degrees in Child Development, Mabry spent many years going into families' homes, assessing their child's development and whether there were any delays. She tells Romper that the most common question she was asked by parents was what kind of toys they should buy for their child to assist in their particular developmental phase.
The pair had casually tossed around the idea of starting a service to help parents find toys for their kids for a while, but it wasn't until Rice Paquette experienced motherhood for herself that she knew their idea was an important one. With her background in design paired with Mabry's expertise in child development, the two made a powerful team.
Mabry and Rice Paquette source toys from all over the world that aren't available in big-box stores and add them to age-appropriate boxes, focusing on cognitive, social, mental, and physical development.
The duo has big dreams for the future of Skip and Play: Eventually they would like to see stores allowing kids to preview, play with, and build their own boxes before bringing them home. For now, though, the women have their hands full with the business in its current stage. When asked how they keep their work-life balance intact Rice Paquette says, "I do my best to include my son, to make him feel like he’s a part of it. I was staying home with him (before Skip and Play), so it was hard for me to leave... it’s important for me to know that I’m setting a good example by pursuing something that terrifies me." Amy Mabry also laughingly noted that "every day feels like the most exciting day and the most terrifying day all at once."
With the birth of her second baby only a few weeks away, Rice Paquette says that there is no "perfect time" to pursue your dreams. "It’s always going to feel like it’s not a good time to do something," she says. "I was staying at home with a baby, but we decided go for it anyway." With almost a year under their belt, Skip and Play is growing by leaps and bounds, almost as quickly as the children they're choosing toys for.
To get to know Mabry and Rice Paquette better, check out their Romper Screenshots below:
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