At Shop Small Fort Worth are all about preserving our community’s character through local businesses. We care about their stories, their trials, and their successes. We are excited to get to know the business owners and creators on a more intimate level and understand exactly what inspired the formation of their businesses and how they want their business to impact the local community. Here, in our “History of the Business” Blog Series, we let them tell their stories, and maybe, by doing so encourage others to start one of their own!
This week we welcome our guest bloggers Caitlin and Suzanne from The Happy Lark…
Hi! We’re Caitlin Deville and Suzanne Fluke. We wanted to introduce ourselves and share why we’re so obsessed with PLAY.
This is us now. We like to think we’ve grown out of our awkward phase. Don’t tell us if you disagree.
Here’s a little about us:
- We’re sisters
- We’re from Bartlesville, Oklahoma (#gobruins)
- We both graduated from OU (#boomer)
- Caitlin is a pediatric physical therapist
- Suzanne used to teach high school math
- Caitlin is mom to Lena
- Suzanne is mom to Holly and Gregory
- We like to have FUN!
And most importantly (to this blog post at least!), we own The Happy Lark – a modern children’s shop and indoor playspace right here in Fort Worth, TX.
A little background. Including ourselves, we have nine brothers and sisters. Nine. Yes, nine. Our parents are divorced and both remarried, so we’re counting the whole crew in there.
Organized chaos, y’all. All the time.
When our mom and step-dad got married, we acquired three new siblings. Were they nice? Did they want to play with us? We had no idea! To house their new blended family, our mom and step-dad bought the weirdest, coolest house in town. Special features included:
-An indoor rock garden
-Really creepy window wells (great hide-and-seek spot, if you can avoid the spiders)
-Curtains featuring a very special “1970s wine bottle” motif
-Built-ins of all sorts (built-in tooth brush holders, built-in kleenex dispensers, built-in phone nooks, built-in desks, built-in dressers…. you get the idea)
-A dark room. A big, creepy, dark room
What is a young family with six children (the total count for this particular house at this time) to do with a dark room? No photographers in the house. No time for hobbies for the parents. No way a door would stay shut for more than five minutes at a time anyway.
So much crafting going on.
Since the dark room was in the giant walk-out basement where all the kid’s bedrooms were located, it made sense for it to be a playroom. Since the girls out-numbered the boys four to two, it was ours!
Way ahead of the top knot trend.
In walks a random babysitter, glitter crafts ensue, and before you know it, a giant bedazzled sign saying “ART ROOM” was strung across the wall and an integral part of our childhood was born.
Our sister Lauren (in the background) made this sweet doll house in the art room. Her current occupation? Architect. Her style has improved a little since then.
What did we do in the Art Room? Art? Occasionally. For the most part, we played. All day. Every day. At least that’s how we all remember it. It’s possible we did other things…. but they just don’t stick out in our memory! Things we did in the Art Room:
-Play school (with occasional cameos by our brother, Principal Luke. A total jerk of a principal.)
-Barbies (with a democratic method of distributing clothes and accessories)
-Dolls (we each had a pretend career as well; if you were the priest, ya better get the bread and grape juice for communion!)
-Crafts (the mess made from the tiny plastic beads that you iron into shapes almost sent us to boarding school a time or two)
-Pretend mermaids (Oh the drama over who got to be Ariel. So much drama.)
-Acting out Beauty and Beast (“You can’t be Belle, you have SHORT BOY HAIR!”)
-…. and so much more.
Occasionally we actually did art in the Art Room. Thanks, Mom!
The bottom line is, we were lucky enough to have a place that was filled with toys that fostered our creativity and imagination. So, so, lucky. Now, on to today’s story…
We dreamed up the idea for The Happy Lark in the summer of 2014. Suzanne already had young children and Caitlin was considering starting a family as well. We were feeling nostalgic for the “Art Room.”
Don’t let that sweet face fool you. He was seriously the meanest principal we ever had. Oh and….. we really loved sponge painting. Those socks tho.
We started thinking… what if we created a fun space for children, kind of like our “art room”? With toys to encourage imaginative play? Where parents could get out of the house (trust us, we get it, sometimes you just need OUT of the house) and connect with other parents? With free coffee!? Inspiration for The Happy Lark was born!
The playspace at The Happy Lark
We had such positive memories of playing as children. And guess what? Play is not only fun, but HUGELY important for children. It’s so important, it has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child.
THL is a place to relax and interact with your kids (or grandkids!) in a positive way. Or you can just sit and drink coffee. We don’t judge.
Through free play, children learn and develop cognitive skills, physical abilities, new vocabulary, and literacy skills – but they also learn persistence, negotiation, problem-solving, and cooperation. As Fred Rogers said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Our playspace features two creative play centers at a time. These are rotated out every few weeks.
SO, play is not only super fun but it’s great for your child’s development too (#winwin). We take play seriously at The Happy Lark and strive to provide an environment that will spark your child’s imagination and create positive memories for years to come. Come play with us this summer!
We love it here. We think you will too.
Thank you so much to Caitlin and Suzanne for opening up your childhood to us and educating us on the importance of ‘play’ in our lives. Find a few details on The Happy Lark below as well as in their listing on ShopSmallFortWorth.com!
Would you like your business to be featured in our “History of the Business” blog series?
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The Happy Lark Playspace hours:
Monday – Friday: 10am to 6pm
Saturday: 12:30pm to 3:30pm
Single child – $10
Multi child – $12