Wonderwild Indoor Party Playground-Kids' Birthday Party

TWO HOUSTON MOMS TURN AN IDEA INTO A FRANCHISE

 

Editor's Note: Deborah Helman and Kayla Cory, two Houston moms, opened Wonderwild Indoor Party Playground in the Heights in 2009. Since then, Wonderwild has become one of the most popular birthday party venues for kids, certainly a favorite among ParentsPost readers. Helman and Cory are now offering franchises. The following interview is with Deborah Helman.

  
ParentsPost:  Do you remember the moment when you first had the idea of opening Wonderwild?

 

DEBORAH HELMAN:  As with many great ideas, Wonderwild Indoor Party Playground started over a dining room table, over dinner and drinks with friends. We were talking about how great it would be to have more places for our kids to play when it got really hot or rainy outside. We had seen or been to places in Europe, where family entertainment centers abound, or in other states like New York or California. We thought Houston was such a cosmopolitan city that it would only be a matter of time before it caught up with other states.

 

ParentsPost:  Why was Wonderwild needed in Houston?

DEBORAH HELMAN:  The weather in Houston and the mosquitoes that come with it definitely played a major factor in our decision to open up Wonderwild. The rain here can be pretty crazy as well. We also researched into different areas of play that we thought were important for physical and mental development for children and wanted to provide those options to all.

 

ParentsPost:  How did the first months after opening go?

DEBORAH HELMAN:  We opened our doors on Oct 31, 2009. It was touch and go at first. We had planned a huge grand opening Halloween party with a full guest list, but still had not received our certificate of occupancy from the city. Luckily, everything happened as it should and we had a wonderful opening with the city's blessing. The community really supported us as local moms just trying to figure out how to make everything work. It was tough in the beginning, but we would not be where we are today without the help of all of our friends. We opened up The Woodlands location in July 2011. We had heard so many wonderful things about The Woodlands and the families that lived there. At the time, a good friend of ours was moving up there from the Heights so we would visit her often and saw the growth and potential of the area.

 

ParentsPost:  Why did you expand with Wonderwilder for older kids?

DEBORAH HELMAN:  We opened up Wonderwilder, the section for kids 5-11 years old, in July 2013. Our kids were growing up and we found that there was a need for a facility where older kids could freely play. Children 5 and over require a different methodology of play in order to keep them fully engaged. Older kids like the idea of individuality and competition, so we put in the bikes. They also require a more challenging playscape - physically and mentally - so we found an amazing ropes course company that helped us visualize and execute the first indoor enclosed ropes course in the U.S. that allows kids to have the vertical challenge without belays.

 

ParentsPost:  Why are you now offering Wonderwild as a franchise?


DEBORAH HELMAN:  We have received a lot of inquiries about opening up a Wonderwild in other locations. People recognize the need for a fun, creative and safe place to play. We are interested in finding a franchisee who has the same mind-set and passion for children and for entrepreneurship as we do. Owning your own business is very difficult - it's almost like giving birth. You have to nurture it, grow it, take baby steps and then you have to allow your "child" to find its own place in the world. Everyone has an opinion about what you should do and how you should do it, but only you, the business owner, know what's good for your business and be able to make the hard decisions to help it to grow.

 

ParentsPost:  What is your advice for parents who want to pursue an idea?

DEBORAH HELMAN:  Houston is a wonderful place to start a new business. So many of our friends who are also moms have started their own companies here. Many of them are very successful. We would encourage other moms who have been bitten with the entrepreneurial bug to grab a hold of their passion and their talents and do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.  

On weekdays, families can drop in and play at both Wonderwild and Wonderwilder.

CLICK HERE for more information on WONDERWILD BIRTHDAY PARTIES & PLAYGROUND DROP-IN 


CLICK HERE for more information on WONDERWILD FRANCHISES
 





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