Owner of the eco-friendly children’s store Monkey Bars and co-founder of Alameda Parent Support, Heather Reed Rider has figured out a thing or two about business and parenting.
1. Tell me about being eco-friendly.
I do my best to source my merchandise locally, and I strive to find companies that manufacture their products responsibly. Ideally, I’d like everything in the store to be made in the U.S., but that’s not always possible. So, if I get something from overseas, I make sure the company and its practices are trustworthy. Everything I bring into the shop is nontoxic and free of PVC, BPA, lead and phthalates. My products reflect my lifestyle in a lot of ways. I don’t sell anything I haven’t used, or wouldn’t use with my own kid. The clothing I offer is mostly organic, and I always offer a broad range to fit different budgets.
2. Where did you get your business savvy?
My degree is in photography, but after working in several businesses in Alameda, I knew I wanted to have my own business one day. I fell in love with Alameda the minute I moved here, and knew I could make something work. I wasn’t sure which direction I would go
until I had my son. As a single mom I decided that I wanted a store that welcomed children, including my own if necessary. My business sense came gradually and sort of naturally, though I’m still learning new things every day.
3. Is having once been a single mom what prompted the nonprofit, Alameda Parent Support?
Absolutely. When a similar organization called Smart Healthy Babies lost their state funding in 2008, a lot of new moms were left hanging with nowhere to go for support. I knew that I needed to help bring back a group that supported parents through the unexpected challenges of parenting. Our nonprofit organization offers six-week sessions facilitated by professionals. We bring in lots of varied speakers, from pediatricians to lactation consultants to sleep experts. We also have informal gatherings for parents as well.
4. Wow, I wish I had access to such a group when I was a new mom.
So many people have said that same thing to me. I guess that’s because parenting is hard work no matter how much you love your kid. We’ve all locked ourselves in the bathroom for one reason or another. I’m thrilled that our organization can offer practical and nurturing assistance to parents. It’s also a way to meet new people going through exactly what you’re going through.
5. You are one busy woman.
It’s true, but all that I do ties in together. Another little detail is that I’m married now. It’s been wonderful having a partner to make things a little easier than they used to be, but I love all of the hats I wear and am proud of how far I’ve come.