This week’s Meet a Mom interview is with Leah “Elle” Reed, owner of Pikopye’s Town! Read more information below about her experience as a first-time business owner, challenges she faced along the way, favorite things about Austin, and her fascinating background in music!
Hi Leah! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
Hi everyone, I’m Leah! Friends call me Leah (pronounced “Lay-Uh”) or Elle, and I am the owner of Pikopye’s Town. Pikopye’s Town is a boutique indoor playground for kids that focuses on imaginative play with ten custom playhouses resembling small businesses so the kids can pretend to live in a tiny town. It also features an adult lounge for parents, caregivers, and/or guardians to relax or work in while the kids are safely playing just around the corner. On the weekends, we host a variety of private events for families, from birthdays to baby showers, with packages for the DIYs to WE do it all!
We aim to serve the community by providing a different kind of play in a safe and clean environment where both parents/caregivers get to enjoy and experience a tiny play town. Imaginative play encourages learning skills and it engages children to play pretend.
Has the pandemic affected your business? If so, in what ways?
Every small business should have an opportunity to start strong, and it’s no secret that the first few years are usually a huge struggle. For Pikopye’s Town, it’s not only challenging that we are in our first year, but we also opened right when the pandemic hit. We signed our lease on March 1, 2020 and a few weeks later, the shutdown started. When we tried to open our doors in July of 2020, construction was delayed due to permitting and construction workers shortage. We finally opened our doors on November 1 just to be met with more challenges of limited capacity and families’ fears of coming into indoor playgrounds. We tried our best to obtain help from the government but did not qualify for anything they were offering, i.e. EIDL nor PPP. While the summer picked up on reservations, we were still playing catch-up with our lease and expenses. Then Austin once again went to Stage 5 and business slowed down, including multiple client event cancelations. To be honest, it’s been an uphill battle and we are struggling big time. However, as a woman who truly believes in the power of prayer, knowing that God’s got me, I believe He will carry us through! There is no mountain too high enough for us to climb at Pikopye’s!
Your passion for your small business is truly inspiring. Can you please tell us about your family?
Well, I’m a mom to a 5-year-old musician! My husband is also a musician in the electronic dance music industry. He has worked with the likes of the Chainsmokers, traveled with David Guetta, and has been around the world to do shows and festivals. Currently, we live in Southwest Austin.
What about your background?
I was a musician as well in the EDM industry; singer/songwriter. Then when I became a mother, I focused on everything related to motherhood including volunteering as a Preschool teacher for Sunday School at Austin Oaks Church. I am originally from Orange County, and I met my husband in Los Angeles at one of his shows. I moved to Austin 11 years ago. My event planning background and experience doing weddings came in handy when I opened Pikopye’s because one of the biggest things we offer are birthday parties. My friends always say that I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades, and I take that as a compliment! I am able to utilize all of my skills, and they all come in handy as far as running a small business like Pikopye’s Town.
What’s the story behind Pikopye’s Town’s name?
When my son was very little, he kept saying, “Pikopye!” It was one of his first words, and we never really knew what it meant until he was two and could communicate better. He explained that “Pikopye” (pronounced “peek-oh-pie”) is his [imaginary] friend. So, when I was looking for a name for the business, I wanted something personal, that related to our family. It felt like there was no better name than Pikopye, my son’s imaginary friend. Our play area is his town!
Why Imaginative Play?
I’ve always wanted to build this tiny town. Growing up, I absolutely loved playing pretend, and oftentimes I fantasized about living in my own little town. The concept of make-believe or imaginative play helps children develop their understanding of how things work in life. They copy everything people do, and they love doing things like mom and dad. This is why I chose to create a tiny town. The design concept came to me by brainstorming what I do in my everyday life: cleaning a living room, making meals, getting the car checked, haircuts, and more. I love grey walls and a modern look, so that design came to be. I wanted things to feel really inviting, where you don’t feel overwhelmed and kids can use their brain power.
I also wanted a space where families can celebrate events privately in a fun, unique space. We focus on that time and attention meant for our children on their special day.
What inspired you to create such a place?
It all started when my son was born in 2015. Just like a lot of moms out there, I was exhausted and had lost that sense of identity. I loved working. However, it was a challenge to find time to work because as you know, babies take so much of your time and my husband traveled for a living. So there we were at 2am still catching up on work in bed, and I thought, “If only a place existed where I can work while Micah plays, I could get so much done!” That was the original idea. That was the concept I wanted to build.
I started drafting this idea in my head but in the middle of planning, I found out I was pregnant, and I thought… oh boy, how am I going to do this now? Unfortunately, we lost the baby. We got pregnant again 8 months later, and then lost her at almost 12 weeks. It was incredibly heartbreaking, but more than that we had this feeling that there was something wrong. Not long after that in 2018, I found out I had cancer, and I needed surgery right away. After the surgery, I was told that I needed to go through chemo and radiation. So after two years of struggling, my dream was put on hold again so I could focus on my health and wellness. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I am now 3 years into remission, yay! When I was able to get myself back up on my feet, I started working on my concept for Pikopye’s Town again, and now here we are! Fact, I named the Pikopye’s Hospital after the oncologist that saved my life, Dr. Knowles.
What are some of your biggest challenges you are currently facing both personally and within your business?
Personal challenges would be the balance of owning a business and being there for my son. I have been working non-stop due to staff shortages so by the time I get home, I’m so exhausted. As far as the business goes, there are a lot of challenges, for sure! As mentioned—staff shortage, and constantly having to pivot, and honestly, I fear that I’m not going to make it this year.
Where do you see yourself personally & in your business in the next 5 years?
I would absolutely love to be able to take a step back & have more time for family & self-care. I also would love (and pray) for more locations! It would be a dream come true to open more Pikopye’s to serve families everywhere!
Do you have any fall-themed events, toys, or promotions coming up?
Yes! We have adorable Halloween Totes for kids that you can purchase at our front desk. And we have a collaboration giveaway in the works with South Austin Moms — be on the lookout!
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Austin? With kids and without?
What’s your favorite place to grab coffee?
Our mission is to Give Moms the Gift of Time — What are your best time-saving tips/resources as a mom?
I know that we all want more than 24 hours in a day. Honestly, I still struggle managing my time myself being a mom, business owner and the current head of the household. The best advice I can give is to NOT procrastinate. It’s a dangerous habit! I know from experience. Do what can be done TODAY. Don’t put it aside for tomorrow because I guarantee you, a week will pass and you’d still be saying I’ll do it tomorrow. Kids asleep and you’re tired? Girl, me too, but I pick myself up and prep that meal, set that coffee brewing on auto. Just do it. You’ll be happier tomorrow. I promise.
To book your group or private play or to learn more about events, click here!