New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women who build businesses in New Jersey, and learn the secret to their success.
Owner of Princeton Playspace & NJMOMpreneur:
Alpin Rezvani, owner of Princeton Playspace, has created more than a fun indoor playground for children; her business offers educational programs and tools for both kids and parents alike. While some days call for relaxing in the café while the littles climb the jungle gym and play pretend, there are also opportunities to sign up for crafty, musical, and STEM classes. As a working speech language pathologist in New York City, Alpin utilizes her professional experience to channel her passions into providing extensive enrichment opportunities at Princeton Playspace. Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, language classes, social skills groups, and parent seminars are just some of the services available at this all-in-one developmental safe-space in Princeton, New Jersey.
NJMOM had the pleasure of learning more about Alpin’s background in speech pathology, how she turned her expertise into a successful business, and her family’s favorite attractions around Princeton and New Jersey.
NJMOM: What do you offer to your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Alpin: Princeton Playspace is an indoor playground for children, but to us it’s even more than that. I am speech pathologist, so incorporating play, language, and social skills were very important to me. We have language based classes such as social skills groups, provide parent seminars, have words of the week, and offer complimentary speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy screenings once a month. We also want it to be a meeting place for families within the community. We set it up in a way that parents can relax, enjoy a cup of coffee, read a magazine, but still supervise their children. And we pride ourselves in having a very warm, friendly staff who work very hard day in and day out to keep the place clean and operating smoothly.
NJMOM: What inspired you to get into your line of work?
Alpin: As a speech language pathologist, when I work with young children I am cognizant of the important role that play has on developing language. One day, while speaking to my husband, we realized that it was something that was missing within the community. I wanted to create a space where children could be children – a space where they could freely explore, pretend, socialize. I want children to learn through doing on their own rather than being told what to do. I want them to problem solve and reach their own conclusions. In the words of Albert Einstein, a fellow Princetonite,
Play is the highest form of research.
NJMOM: What is your favorite part about your business?
Alpin: I love meeting new people and getting to know families in our diverse community. It also makes me very happy to see children and adults build new friendships during open play and classes. One of our favorite things is to give back to our community by donating our services or space, whether it be to schools, local organizations, or families. We are always there to help if anyone in the community needs us!
NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Alpin: I am a speech language pathologist and co-owner of a speech therapy private practice called Gift of Gab which my partner, Debbie Shiwbalak, and I started in New York City. I still commute to the city two to three days a week to see my regular clients and do evaluations, so the idea of owning my own business is not foreign to me. Building a Playspace starting with an empty canvas was definitely new to me and I would not have been able to make it come to life without my husband, family, and close friends. And as a speech pathologis,t I have a deep understanding of how children play and what is motivating to them, so I took that knowledge to help create what is now Princeton Playspace.
NJMOM: What are you most proud of in your career?
Alpin: I would say I’m most proud of the fact that I took a huge risk in opening up Princeton Playspace. There was nothing like it in the community so we were not 100 percent sure how people would react to space that is mainly geared toward play and exploration. We certainly did our research beforehand, but there is always a chance something may not work out. But I come from the line of thinking that if you put your all into something and work day and night, it will succeed!
NJMOM: What is something few people know about you?
Alpin: Few people know that my idea of relaxing is eating pickles and olives while watching Real Housewives of New Jersey!
NJMOM: What can we expect from you for the rest of 2017?
Alpin: I sometimes view Princeton Playspace as my second baby, but we actually have a second baby on the way due New Year’s Eve! We are very excited. And as for our initial second baby, we plan on adding more interactive play elements throughout the year, so stay tuned. Join our newsletter and follow us on social media for updates.
NJMOM: What charity are you most passionate about?
Alpin: We have worked very closely with HomeFront in the past. Their mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey. We’ve tried to keep “giving back” a tangible experience for our little ones. For instance, instead of just donating school supplies, each child makes a “Back to School” bag for another child. We want them to feel the importance of giving back and have them understand the impact they can make on society. HomeFront also offers tours within their main location so that children and families can learn about how their services work.
NJMOM: Who is your role model?
Alpin: Not to get all sappy, but definitely my mom! She always wears a smile on her face and her heart on her sleeve. She is one of the most kind and generous people I have ever met in my life. Nothing seems to phase her. She came to the United States at the young age of 17, newly married with barely any English or money. My parents worked unbelievably hard, sometimes three jobs at a time, and all of their hard work paid off. They started a family, opened their own store, bought a house, sent their daughter to college, and achieved the “American Dream.” It is because of them I have the value of hard work ingrained in me. And another huge takeaway from my mother is customer service; she genuinely cares about each customer that walks into her store and wants them to have a positive experience, which is something we also take very seriously at Princeton Playspace.
NJMOM: What is the best piece of advice your mom ever gave to you?
Alpin: To be kind, respect others, and smile. No matter how someone treats me, I am kind to them. She always said that you never know if someone is having a bad day or what is going on in their life. Showing kindness in return goes a long way and it doesn’t cost a thing.
NJMOM: Do you have a favorite quote you live by?
Alpin: As a parent I think my favorite quote that I have come across is,
Let them be little.
I think these days we forget to allow kids to just be kids. They’re going from one structured activity to the next. Let them run, pretend, get dirty, and use their imagination. They are only kids once and let’s face it: being an adult comes with a lot of responsibilities!
NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in New Jersey with your family?
Alpin: We are always out and about and love scouting out new places. Marquand Park and Arboretum in Princeton and Hopewell Borough Park are our top playground picks. Hiking the trails of the Sourland Mountain Preserve in Somerset County and Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed is absolutely beautiful in the fall. Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton is also gorgeous any time of year. Since Roman is a huge animal fan and loves picking fruit that is in season, we spend a lot of time at local farms such as Terhune Orchards and Von Thun Farms. Our favorite thing to do is take walks on Princeton University Campus, sit on the tigers, and then walk into town for an obligatory ice cream cone at Halo Pub, The Bent Spoon, or Thomas Sweet. That makes me smile since it is something I also grew up doing.
NJMOM: What is the best part about being a mom for you?
Alpin: At three years, Roman is still at an age where he gives endless hugs and kisses which of course melt my heart. And I’m going to sound a nerdy speech pathologist mom here, but I love see his language develop and hearing the new, cute things he comes up with. You see he has had a true love for dinosaurs and animals from the moment he could speak so everything is centered around that. The other day he asked me at Cape May County Zoo, “Mommy, is that a prehistoric mammal?” I swear he is going to become a veterinarian or paleontologist in the future (or maybe take over Princeton Playspace one day!)
NJMOM: What are your favorite businesses in New Jersey?
Alpin: Our favorite date night spot in Princeton is Mistral; they have the yummiest small plates you will ever have. And I have to give a shout out to our favorite buffalo wing place, Chuck’s – I’ve been going there since I was a kid. I love supporting other women-owned businesses. Our top toy store in town is Jazams – I would buy the whole store if I could. ToobyDoo in Palmer Square has adorable back to school clothing for children. If you want to break out into a sweat, you have to try Pure Barre in Princeton.
NJMOM: Where do you reside and vacation in New Jersey?
Alpin: We live in Kingston, which is a small, adorable town in Central New Jersey. We love taking walks on the canal, having peanut butter and jelly picnics, and going to local restaurants like Eno Terra, PJ’s Pancake House, and Osteria Procaccini. Our local fire department also holds fun events throughout the year. Everyone knows each other and it feels like the friendliest town on Earth. In the summer, spending long weeks at the Jersey Shore is the way to go. Our go-to is Cape May for its fun carriage rides and gorgeous historical homes and we always have to make a stop at the Cape May County Zoo on the way back. Another fave is Asbury Park which we love for its beach, restaurants, pinball arcade, and splash park.
NJMOM: What advice might you have for a fellow NJMOMpreneur who is just starting out?
Alpin: I would say to take what you are great at and build on it. Try to think out of the box. Once you put your mind to something, give a 110 percent effort and I promise you it will all work out! Remember to have a lot of money saved up beforehand so you are secure. Lastly, once your business is settled, do not be afraid to delegate tasks to others. You have to come to terms with the fact that you cannot do everything. It’s not humanly possible. Form a team you trust that is like your family, that way you will not worry about a thing.
NJMOM: Anything else you’d like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Alpin: You are all my superheroes! Being a mom certainly is not easy. Wow, does it take some patience! We take on so many roles and our days are filled with what seems like endless tasks, but I just want to remind you that you are all doing great. If you didn’t get to that thing on your to-do list today, it’s okay. Tomorrow is a fresh new day. Thank you all for all you do. And of course, big thanks to all the fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and more – it certainly takes a village!
To learn more about Princeton Playspace, visit their website and follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.