We had the good fortune of connecting with Dana Tufo and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dana, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Shortly after having my first child, I started taking her to indoor playgrounds. But I couldn’t find a space that catered to infants or toddlers. All the playgrounds in Houston either didn’t have an area for the littles or it was small and not regulated (e.g., big kids would play in the smaller kids’ section). After my daughter got trampled at one place, I decided I needed to do something about this void in our area. I wanted a clean, safe, and soft space for the littles to be able to play and learn, somewhere open where a mom could sit and take a break, or nurse one child, and still be able to watch her children play wherever they were in the play space. We needed a playground for just infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
What should our readers know about your business?
My vision for Lovebug’s Playground was (and still is) to be a playground and party venue for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. I wanted a safe space where kids could play and learn and caregivers could either play with their children or relax while watching their kids have fun. Starting a business during a pandemic was not easy, especially in the indoor playground field. I was also raising a baby and toddler. (My son was seven months old when I opened Lovebug’s Playground.) But, my business was also my baby, and I was not going to give up on it. I knew we needed this in Houston–and every time a guest told me about how happy they were that we opened, and seeing the children light up upon entering, it reminded me of why I had to keep striving to overcome these hard times. My guests and their happiness are very important to me. It was difficult, but I wanted to stay true to my vision of being a playground for just infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. I had to turn down A LOT of guests who wanted to bring in older children to open play. (All ages are welcome with party rentals, but we cap the age for open play.) And that was really hard since profits weren’t what they should have been. Thankfully I had very loyal and caring guests along the way. Lovebug’s Playground is in a great community, and we are very grateful for our supporters. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for updates and our special events–and details about our next location!!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh, how things change when you become a parent. Thankfully, we can still do some of the things we loved before having children, like ride bikes along TC Jester , by the bayou–and burp the bayou!–even downtown. Downtown has some great bike lanes, especially if you want to ride to Discovery Green. You could let the kids play at the playground, roll down the hill, cool off at the splash pad then grab a bite to eat from one of their amazing eateries. Now with kids in tow, we choose our restaurants based on if they have play spaces for the kids. Luckily, Houston’s restaurant scene is the best, so we don’t have to sacrifice delicious food for kid-friendly restaurants. A couple of our favorites are Millie’s and Preslee’s! You can also take your kids with you to a brewery! There are tons of kid-friendly bars on Wakefield where you can drink while your kids play.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the encouragement and support of my husband. When I told him about my idea to open an indoor play space for just the littles, he immediately jumped in to help however he could. Even though I’m the sole owner of Lovebug’s Playground, he has very much played a big role in its development and success. My kids have played a huge part, too. Every decision I make about the playground or toy store (we also sell toys) comes with the input from my children. Will, Maia, and Ben, you are my world, and thank you so much for helping me create and grow this business!
Nicole Fowler Photography; LKL Photography