Into the Spotlight, sponsored by Huddersfield-based Scriba PR, is a weekly feature which highlights some great businesses. Here, we introduce Wonderland Playgym in Slaithwaite which has found a niche catering for our littlest ones.
A Slaithwaite playgym has bounced back from lockdown as it focuses on fun and quality play for little ones.
Mums with babies and young children bore the brunt of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic but now freedoms have returned and parents can get about and about and meet up again.
Playgyms were among the businesses forced to stay closed the longest but now Wonderland Playgym is making up for lost time – and missed birthday parties!
Wonderland was shut from March to September 2020 and then again from the end of October – Halloween – to May 2021.
Owner Nicole Dimopoulos, who had only taken over the business in April 2019, said: “It was a really difficult time and when we were closed we still had bills to pay. If it hadn’t been for the grants we were able to claim we wouldn’t have survived.”
Nicole furloughed her staff and did some outside events including Easter bunny and Santa visits to help make ends meet.
Since lockdown ended and the playgym opened up again business has boomed.
“It’s literally gone through the roof,” said Nicole, 32. “We have just been so busy and much of it is through word-of-mouth recommendations which is the best promotion you can have.”
Nicole, who has a seven-year-old daughter Sophia Lily, caters for only the youngest children, from babies to the age of seven.
That’s quite unusual for playgyms and Nicole has also invested in facilities, equipment and toys to make her gym the best possible experience for littles ones and their parents.
A brand new soft play area was installed last July and there’s also a sensory room, bubble tube and story corner.
There’s also a play area including a play kitchen, hospital and post office.
Parents can relax in the cafe area while keeping an eye on their youngsters nearby.
The playgym hosts a sensory club on Tuesdays and every Saturday and Sunday afternoons it closes for private birthday parties.
Themed parties are popular – not least Pepa Pig and Paw Patrol – and there’s bubble machines and snow machines and the 2pm-4pm sessions are booked up until June.
Nicole was previously a travel agent but always wanted to run her own business. When she was approaching 30 she decided the time was right to follow her dream.
“When I was growing up I always wanted to run my own business but I never pushed myself into it,” said Nicole.
“After working for a travel company for £800 a month I decided I wanted to do something I enjoyed. I didn’t just want to go to work anymore.”
Nicole found her Wonderland in Slaithwaite and has changed the playgym completely from what it was when she took over.
“It’s small, compact and cosy and it’s somewhere parents can sit and chill and meet up with friends and their children.
“I wanted my playgym to offer something different and Slaithwaite is a lovely village with lovely people.
“It’s also central to other places and we’ve found we’re a meeting place for families from Manchester and Sheffield because we’re right between the two.”
Nicole now has six staff – Lauren Matthews, Kirby Wade, Emma Lister, Chloe Stewart, Holly Fisher and Ellie Fisher – who are dedicated to the business.
The one thing that customers always include on their reviews is how clean everything is.
“Because I have a little girl I know how important cleanliness is,” said Nicole. “We make sure everything is clean, clean, clean. It’s spotless, and people appreciate that.”
Nicole continues to invest in the business too and a new kitchen is coming soon.
Wonderland Playgym is open Monday-Friday 9am-3pm with three sessions 9.30am-11am, 11am-12.30pm and 1pm-2.30pm.
On Saturday opening times are 9.30am-1pm with sessions from 9.30am-11am and 11am-12.30pm. On Sunday it’s 10am-1pm with sessions from 10am-11.30am and 11.30am-1pm.
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons the private parties run from 2pm-4pm and cater for between 12 and 20 children at £9.95 per child including food. For more information search for Wonderland Playgym on Facebook.