We had the good fortune of connecting with Jill Lerman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jill, how does your business help the community?
My mission as a business owner is to support families and empower parents to connect with their children through play. As a parent myself, I understand how difficult it can be to get through the day. But even on the most difficult days, I can get down on the floor with my daughter and play. Those little moments of joy, bonding, and connection are so incredibly meaningful for both of us. I also realized while pregnant during the pandemic, and now with a young child how much support & community matters. That is a huge part of my mission with Jillybeans- to create a supportive space for parents and caretakers everywhere.
What should our readers know about your business?
I’ve worked in early childhood education for almost 15 years, both as a preschool teacher and providing classes and play consultations through my business, Jillybeans. In a pre-pandemic world, those play-based classes and events happened in people’s homes, stores, and playspaces in around the tri-state area, but when the pandemic hit, like so many businesses, everything changed. I also found out I was pregnant with my daughter within days of New York City going on lockdown in March 2020. So it was kind of like…. yikes… okay… what do I do now?
All my experience teaching showed me how important play is for young children. It’s how they engage with the world and learn best! I realized there was an opportunity to support overwhelmed families by making play feel accessible and show how it can be both purposeful and fun. That’s where the pivot in my business really began.
In addition to teaching virtual classes and sharing activity and play ideas on social media, I also partner with brands I love and believe in as a developmental play expert. Becoming a mother really helped me understand how difficult it can be to get through the day with a young child at home. That was where the inspiration for my 1:1 play consultations began, where I curate activity ideas specifically tailored to their child’s interests and developmental goals using items people likely have at home already. My consultations help parents get confident and excited about playtime, to create simple, engaging, meaningful play experiences their child will WANT to explore, and make the most out of their child’s toy collection all while supporting development.
One of my biggest challenges is definitely the juggle between running my business and parenting my daughter, while still finding some time for myself and my relationship with my husband. I’m constantly trying to find and strive for that balance. Some weeks are definitely better than others, but I very deliberately plan my time, and block off my calendar, even for simple mundane things like “take a shower” or “catch up on trashy TV.” I’ve found that helps!
Additionally, like many people, I’d been held back in the past by fear of failing or insecurity. Daily positive affirmations and visualizations of my goals have been instrumental tools in building my confidence and being in a more positive mindset. They are now as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth.
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?
We recently moved to Jersey City, right outside of Manhattan and have been loving discovering our new neighborhood. We live a few blocks from the water, overlooking downtown Manhattan and the Freedom Tower. There are tons of family-owned restaurants and coffee shops nearby and we are loving trying them all. There’s also a really vibrant local arts scene. I come from a performance background and love exploring museums and seeing live performances, whether they be music, dance, or theater.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people and things that influence me! In terms of my educational and parenting philosophies, I am heavily influenced by Reggio Emilia and RIE, which both really focus on respecting a child and following a his/her lead and interests. Children see possibilities and opportunities everywhere. They are incredibly capable, even from a young age. I’m always amazed at how activities can evolve at the hands of a child if we just allow the space for that to happen. Certainly my business and mindset coach, Kamelia Britton, who really helped me pivot my business after the pandemic and helps me to be the most confident, powerful version of myself. My husband, Matt, who is the most supportive partner, and regularly inspires me to be a better person. My daughter, Rae, who is incredibly determined. She never gives up when there is something she wants, and it is a regular reminder to me to keep pushing myself to do the same. She lives in the here and now. We lose a lot of that ability as adults, and I love how present she allows me to be. She is always making discoveries. I love experiencing the world through my daughter’s eyes. It is such a gift.
Two of the photos were taken by Little Leaves Photography