New family boutique and studio, Lavender and Play, creates a hub for family support and unique educational toys and items for babies, children and families
Lavender & Play is a children’s boutique that offers and experience beyond typical retail. As a family boutique and studio, Lavender & Play focuses on helping families find the right items for their family, as well as offering learning opportunities for families, indoor and outdoor classes for parents and their children, private learning pods and more!
Sonja and Sarah’s business journey as co-owners of Lavender & Play, a family boutique and studio in Peterborough, began in spring 2020 in a slightly atypical way. Five years ago, Sarah Susnar created Play Cafe right here in Peterborough, a cafe designed for parents to enjoy a cafe-like experience while children were encouraged to freely play. There she met Sonja Martin, a mother and frequent visitor to the Play Cafe. She specialized in early childhood education and psychology practices such as children’s behaviour services, yoga, meditation, pre and postnatal care in addition to a fertility and doula business called Rooted Lavender.
Over the next number of years, Sarah and Sonja’s working relationship flourished through the Play Cafe until recently in spring 2020 when the COVID-19 shut downs swept across the region. “After the original COVID-19 shutdowns in the spring, Sarah and I had a serious conversation about continuing to evolve in our partnership and about me becoming a more established partner in the business. From there we chose to combine our businesses and their names and Lavender & Play was created,” shares Sonja.
Since the creation of Lavender & Play, Sarah and Sonja’s business models have become integrated and taken a turn towards more retail focused support for local parents and families. However, their commitment to the Peterborough families and the larger community remains the same. “At the heart of our business is caring for families in our community,” Sonja shared. “We’ve had experiences in our own lives that have shaped us as parents and we want families to feel like they have a space to go where they can receive support and not feel alone, especially during these challenging times.”
Pivoting a business during a pandemic is no easy feat, however, Sarah and Sonja’s strong community ties through the Play Cafe have really helped to maintain their business during this time of transition. “We absolutely love the community members and families we get to meet through Lavender & Play. While they may come into the store or join a class to support us, we are also offering a level of support to them as well. It’s truly a unique, family-first business model that we are so proud of,” explains Sarah.
Some of the services Lavender & Play are best known for are their parent and baby classes, behavioural consults with Sonja, postpartum services and family support, both in-store and in-home. Sarah and Sonja are both postpartum doulas and are thrilled to be able to offer this service to parents in the Peterborough region.
In addition to their family-based services, Lavender & Play is a full retail space with educational and thoughtfully curated toys for children of all ages. Their range of products features educational toys aligned with Montessori and Waldorf curriculums, toys and products for children who may have special needs or require alternative support, all-natural products and products from local creators.
“This really is a place where you can find toys and educational materials for children that you can’t find anywhere else. We focus on more local, eco-friendly toys that are designed to engage and teach children, not just entertain them. In fact, I’m not even sure we have a toy in the store with a battery,” explains Sonja. Lavender & Play caters to all price points and offers a toy library through their used play kit subscriptions and discovery boxes to support families during this time of online learning and home schools.
“We handpick every product that comes into the store,” says Sarah. “We’re so excited about each and every item that comes in because we truly believe in them and in the opportunities they provide to children and their parents.” Relying on their strong social work and early education backgrounds, Sarah and Sonja are able to provide expert guidance and advice for families looking for items or support for their growing family. “That truly is what makes us different from a big box store,” explains Sonja. “When someone comes into Lavender & Play asking about a breast pump or some other sort of item, we can give advice and recommendations from personal experience as mothers and as professionals who specialize in children. That simply isn’t something you can get from a big box store.”
For the month of December, Lavender & Play is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. To accommodate shoppers for the holiday season, Lavender & Play will also be open Wednesday evenings from 6-8 p.m.
You can shop in-store at their retail location at 1434 Chemong Road, Peterborough or order online 24/7 from their website at lavenderandplay.ca. As part of their commitment to COVID-19 safety and guidelines, Lavender & Play is offering curbside pick up and free delivery within Peterborough.