A Playground Grows In Harlem — With The Help of Crowd-funding

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In many urban settings, it is difficult to find a place outdoors that is safe and welcoming for kids to play. This is the case in Enid Waite’s Harlem, NY, neighborhood. So she decided to do something about it.

 

She is looking to open a play space called Playdate Clubhouse (PDC) in fall 2020 and took to crowd-funding on Indiegogo to help achieve this dream. And it won’t be inexpensive — there are build-out costs and leasing expenses.

 

PDC will include a colorful, kid-friendly space; a space welcoming for playdates, dancing and karaoke parties; special services/workshops: STEAM, Robotics, arts and crafts; kitchen/Art room to put fun and culinary twist on birthday parties; café room for parents/families/guardians to download, work and breathe; classes and events are driven by parent demand.

 

“My mission is to give children and families a playground inside a living-room (setting) so parents will have one less thing to think about. A safe space year-round to simply have fun and play as if your home was big enough to host all your friends with ease. Playdates instill social skills coupled with an activity that increases brain function, wellness, and well-rounded little people. I am raising funds to create a utopia for children and families,” says Waite.

 

Waite tells TNJ.com her plans for PDC and how she hopes to make it all work.

 

TNJ.com: This is a major undertaking. What led you to move forward with this idea?

Enid Waite: After years of research I saw a need for this kind of service in our neighborhood that is missing and I wanted to provide it in an affordable way. It’s crazy there are places offering birthday parties for 15 kids, for 3-hours at $100 per kid and $45 per class for 16 weeks. Upper Manhattan has museums and classes but they are defined in a way that restricts easy use and time and price is a big factor to parents. The parents I know and met kept asking for two similar things. Creating their own playdate with 5 or more kids at a time of their choosing and open playtime sprinkled with a good musician and making a cool craft.

 

PDC will respond to this new way that parents want to connect. Also this was about going back in the workplace now that my children will be reaching school age. I created my own perfect job. My background is in events and marketing. These kinds of jobs are not 9-to-5 so creating my own gives me and my employees a space that understands balancing work and family life.

 

TNJ.com: Why are you so passionate about it?

Enid Waite: I’m passionate about creating a connection from laughter and smiles from kids and parents. I’m passionate about preserving the way we talk and connect with our children. We teach endless stories and songs to them about how to love, be kind, play nice and respect each other, but somewhere along the way…as we get older it’s corrupted. Simple playdates with children should remind us adults about the basics.

 

TNJ.com: What has the response been?

Enid Waite: Great online chatter but the response to the crowd-funding has been low. It’s kind of hard on this level, especially to parents to appeal to such a large entity that’s not there just yet. We are a short distance away from finalizing a location. Lots of promises to contribute but it is not rolling as fast as I wanted.

 

TNJ.com: Why a crowdfunding campaign?

Enid Waite: God bless my husband! He has been helping me with my vision and we as a family unit have cautiously stretched our resources to a comfortable maximum to make this happen. It is not easy to take a chunk of your [mostly his] hard earned savings to dedicate to a new venture. Anyone who has tried to create a business knows there are high hurdles you have to reach just to make it past the planning stage, there is a lot that is unfairness and blockage to businesses becoming a reality…and I’m not speaking on race or being a woman…it’s money.  So it is extremely important to let people know the risk we are taking and it is important to show our heart and soul are connected. We are serious about taking on this project. There are a clear vision and benefit to the community upon its conception. We have done all we can to get this business to the finish line and we are almost there.

We chose crowdfunding to help to alleviate the financial pressure and to reduce the amount of debt so the business will be able to create jobs and serve the community rather than struggle with repaying loan debt and interest. More Black-owned businesses and especially neighborhood businesses are necessary. These…my kind of business does not look at the neighborhood as a chunk of demographics stuffed into a few city blocks to sell stuff…we are here to listen, connect and provide needed services as well as have stock in the betterment of our neighborhood.  We are asking for our community to support us, so we can help support our community.

 

TNJ.com: What have you learned personally and professionally during this process?

Enid Waite: Personally, as a mother, it is not easy. Just this morning I was hunting through bags of clean unfolded clothes for my child’s underwear — a reminder that in order to make your business happen you have to choose between being the perfect mother or being the perfect businesswomen at your computer to get a report done but you still have to allocate time to both. It’s a balancing act. I learned to dump the guilt of not being the perfect mom…A lot of times when you are communicating your goals and have obstacles you need to climb you refer to other professionals and consultants for help. It’s important to clearly understand the laws and practices of what you do. Be able to recite laws and ask clear questions. Be prepared to defend your business and analyze the advice you are given. You could lose out on an opportunity because someone else has defined you wrongly.

 

TNJ.com: Why is this space needed in big cities?

Enid Waite: We have small spaces that we try to keep as organized as possible. Having more than two sets of friends with kids is a challenge sometimes. PDC was created to be a living room in a playground. PDC is kid- and parent-friendly.