Dolly Parton and mimosas, helped lead Nashville mom Nicole into a business venture to let kids have fun and give parents a peace of mind at parties and events. Meet Tots Aloud! Specializing in mobile playgrounds and posh play zones, this soft play party rental company recognizes that babies can be a part of life’s celebrations, while mom and dad enjoy themselves too! Learn more about Nicole’s story and about Tots Aloud in the interview below!
Tell us about your business! How long have you been in business?
Nicole: We launched in January of 2020 (…RIGHT?!)
What made you want to work with parents/families/kids/babies?
Nicole: Mimosas & Dolly Parton were my inspiration for Tots Aloud Soft Play Party Rentals! When my daughters were 11 months and 3 years old, my family were invited to a dear friend’s baby shower hosted at the home of a well-known Nashville figure (sorry folks I can’t disclose that info here!). As you might imagine, the setting was jaw-droppingly grand, a beautiful stately home, a huge swimming pool, a stunning sweeping staircase and antiques, antiques, antiques EVERYWHERE! The event setting was simply gorgeous but the space was not prepared for the many small children aged 5 and under that were generously invited.
Instead of an enjoyable few hours making cutesy noises in reaction to all the adorable baby gifts my friend was unboxing, I spent the time coaxing my toddler off from that beautiful grand staircase, making sure my crawler didn’t pull the cord to one of the fine lamps precariously placed upon the antique side-table, and keeping both of them from throwing themselves in to the swimming pool. It was nice to be there for my friend, but too stressful. My husband and I wanted to be able to interact with our friends and other guests but really couldn’t, it just wasn’t as fun as it could have been.
I was able to grab one or two mimosas from the ‘pit stop’ during my laps around this huge property and managed to flash a quick crazy-eyed smile and “hey!” to some strangers, BUT it was perhaps with the help of those mimosa bubbles that my ‘ahhhhhh haaaaaaa’ moment appeared as my toddler came darting through one of the antique-lined corridors clutching the framed prized photo of the said Nashville prominent figure pictured with Dolly Parton. Keira must have recognized her from the back of one of Dolly’s Imagination Library books (an incredible resource and non-profit by the way)! I swiped that heavy silver-framed picture right out of her hands so quickly it almost left my sweaty fingers and hurtled across the room towards the head our gracious host.
Feeling tired and stressed out, I looked at Dolly in that picture as I sipped my mimosa (I actually devoured that sucker) and thought about all she had accomplished. I asked myself, ‘What would Dolly do?’, and so there it was, Dolly was an entrepreneur and successful entrepreneurs find solutions to problems. Myself and the other parents in attendance were experiencing a problem, and so I set to work to create the solution and build a business around it!
What is the philosophy behind your company?
Nicole: Delivering fun for tots and peace of mind for parents! Leave the babysitter behind and bring out the babies, because children should be part of life’s celebrations too. Parents need a break, but sadly, there are many occasions where we’ve been invited to parties or events with our small children only to find that we are unable to enjoy the moment because the need to watch their EVERY MOVE. We look for somewhere we can set them down and keep them occupied and safe, which is often away from the main party (such as the playroom in a home while everyone else congregates elsewhere). Us parents of infants and toddlers are grateful for a space where we could put them down for a few minutes to grab a quick bite to eat or drink or just rest our arms! A bounce house is often a host’s first ‘go-to’ to keep all children entertained, however, usually a lot of older more raucous children are on the bounce houses and for fear of our babies being squished/knocked over and ultimately hurt, we steer clear. When we add all these things up, we weigh up the pros against the cons and decide whether it really would be worth bringing our small children out to certain events and parties which is so sad!
What are your strengths compared to other rental companies in Nashville?
Nicole: I believe at this time I am the only company offering Soft Play Mobile Playground Hire in the Middle TN area. It’s such a great idea (if I do say so myself!) so I’m sure there will be copy cat companies popping up in the not too distant future offering something similar in this space. I believe the closest comparison would be inflatable bounce house companies that offer toddler-sized bounce houses, but even with these the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against bounce houses for children aged under 3. Our carefully and beautifully curated soft play mobile playgrounds are a safer, quieter, more versatile and way cuter option!
What attracts parents to work with you?
Nicole: An awesome idea for a helpful service, professionalism and passion! A lot of my business comes through word of mouth from existing clients or where others have attended an event where we set up. I care passionately about helping each parent create a space at their event where they, and other parents can feel happy about bringing out their babies and everyone can relax and have a great time while making more of those picture perfect memories. Doing this work is so much fun and I get to share in the excitement of my clients’ milestone events, whether it’s a wedding, first birthday or baby shower or any other event. I enjoy taking some of the worry and stress away from parents and helping them with additional tips to plan the perfect If i ever came into money and I didn’t have bills to pay, I would do this for free all day long, forever!
What are some cool new and innovative trends you’ve seen in your area of expertise?
Nicole: We may have to branch out into offering grown-up sized soft play equipment and ball-pits and hire them out for events too! The amount of times the parents have mentioned that they wish they could ‘hop in’ and have as much fun as their tot is having is endearing!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your business?
Nicole: We are supporters of The Nashville Diaper Connection and do what we can to help raise awareness of diaper need and the work of @nashdiaper in our community. #PlaySoftPartyPosh #BringOutTheBabies
This is such a great idea, Nicole! We’re so glad you took the leap and appreciate you sharing your business and your story with us! If you have an event coming up with little ones, be sure to check out Tots Aloud!