Earlier this year, Conway Scene sat down with Erin Conner of Share the Love Kids Club to learn more about the popular hangout for kids in downtown Conway. Conner, with her husband, Craig, started the kids club in November of 2015. The location is adjacent to Zeteo Coffee across from the Chamber of Commerce.
Q & A with Erin Conner of Share the Love Kids Club
Conway Scene: How did Share the Love Kids Club get started?
Conner: I was a young mom and felt pretty isolated and lonely, and went to a play space with my husband (Craig Connor) one time taking our firstborn and just really, that’s where God just planted the dream in me. Um, you know, Conway really needs something like this. Really had the vision of just moms being able to gather together in a place kind of away from home where they could relax and, um, know they could have fun and not have to pick up toys or worry about dishes, or they could either just enjoy time with their kids, check an email, um, you know, just kind of take that breather that parents often need.
Conner: Lots of larger cities have similar concepts. And so we just started kind of feeling like we really wanted to marry the concepts of a play space with a coffee shop, started researching the larger cities. They had places called play cafes. The play space we went to didn’t have the coffee component, but, I believe that parents are the ones that need the break more than kids and so we wanted to create a space more for parents. Normally when you go to play spaces the focus is primarily on the child.
Conway Scene: How did you come up with partnering with a coffee shop and connecting with Jon & Trina?
Conner: Yeah! So we just knew…I mean, I’m a coffee lover, um, me and my husband both are, and so we just knew if we were truly going make something that was for parents, we really just started brainstorming, you know, really what makes a place enjoyable, and just kind of started realizing that when you’re a young parent, you kind of have to give up the coffee shop scene.
You know, most coffee shops don’t say, “Hey! Bring your kids!” and so we just felt like there was a really big gap where parents could go and it be equally enjoyable for them and the kids. The coffee shop was just kind of a natural element that we were like, “Yes! Parents need that, want that, um, love that.” And so we knew we didn’t wanna operate a coffee shop. That really was not anywhere on our radar, and we had known about John and Trina’s dream to open a coffee shop. Once the doors started opening with this building, we approached them and just said, “Hey, we think God’s doing this. Do you guys wanna join along?” And literally, three months later, we were signing a lease!
Conway Scene: Who helped you and gave you mentorship in business your journey?
Conner: What’s funny is I would say the Internet! I would stay up really late at night just researching.
I love research. I love learning. I’ve read a lot of books and, I would say people that we really looked up to in that process that kind of got us on the right track would be Ashton and Austin Samuelson (owners of Tacos 4 Life).
And we met with our pastor (Rick Bezet, New Life Church).
We started putting everything on paper.
Also, I have a business mentor—Jessica Zimmerman, who owns Zimmerman Events.
I’ve known her for years and she is a mom and a businesswoman and she’s been, a business owner for five years. she actually mentored another friend that knew business stuff and she was at a place where she wanted, to start officially offering mentoring because more and more people were coming to her asking her questions and…
Conway Scene: So, can you talk about what challenges you’ve faced along the way? What, what were obstacles you had to overcome?
Conner: I mean, I think the biggest thing is location. W knew we wanted to be in the heart of Downtown (Conway), and so once we found this building, there was a lot that needed to be done to it. And so, that was just an obstacle of figuring out if we crowdfund because there was a lot of money that had to be involved. So we invested a lot into crowdfunding, allowed us to additional take that kind of step of doing as much to the building as we needed to do.
Conway Scene: How did the location come about for you?
Conner: We lived Downtown at the time and I always knew that we wanted it to be Downtown because part of our desire is to be part of the community and be connected.
We always felt like Downtown would be kind of the hub for that because you’re connected with other businesses. We’d drive around and when I saw this building…and I had been researching, too. I knew which buildings Downtown could potentially house us, and when I knew Warp and Woof, the fabric store, which is what used to be here.
Conway Scene: What was your biggest challenge?
Conner: I mean, I think just not building a space to meet your needs but using existing space and then customizing it to meet your needs. So that was the biggest challenge, I would say the construction process, the price, and, the cost that comes along with that. That it’s always way more than you anticipate. And obviously, safety and all those things are important to us, so, just making the building what we needed it to be.
Wrapping it up
Share the Love Kids Club is located at 911 W. Oak Street in Downtown Conway next door to Zeteo Coffee. You can find them on Facebook, Instagram, or at their website. Erin is the founder of Share the Love Kids Club and you can learn more about the story on their website.