By Pamela Rogow
A few years ago, two friends, Meredith Jacoby and Jennifer Kinka, realized that they shared a predicament. They needed income to help raise their young families but “didn’t want work to completely take us away from being stay-at-home moms.”
They decided to open a business that “overlapped with the culture that we were immersed in—babies, diapers and Mt. Airy,” recalled Meredith, in a stolen moment last week. She is now 35, and mother of Jacob, 9, Lucas, 3, and Sylvia, 7 months. Business partner Jennifer, now 33, is mother to Shea, 5, Sam, 3, and a baby coming soon.
Capitalizing on experience working with the one-time nonprofit Maternal Wellness Center, the friends opened The Nesting House in 2010 in a space at 606 Carpenter Lane, just off Greene Street, in West Mt. Airy. The Nesting House is a limited liability company (LLC), a flexible form of enterprise that blends elements of partnership and corporate structures. (LLCs do not need to be organized for profit.) And while they make it to the store for no more than a few days a week, the duo are largely able to manage the store remotely from home.
The store sells in three categories: very gently used baby and children’s gear, for zero to six year olds; New “natural parenting tools” and diapers, diapers, diapers. More than 50 alternatives are available along with free diaper workshops for parents. Think cloth.
Within a year of opening, The Nesting House expanded to an adjacent space in the same building for kids 18 months to 6 years. And this past winter, they inaugurated an online business. Things are looking good; the mothers still get plenty of time with their children, thanks to a dozen part-time local worker-moms who help carry the load at the shop.
What’s to buy? As a new grandmother (June 2; thanks for asking), I was impressed. Barely-used, high-quality, affordable babyware was not a retail category when I was a new mother. Here, most used items are a few dollars; some are 50 cents, and the price of used clothes tops off at about $10. They also have used car seats, push toys and the like. The company focuses on products that are environmentally friendly and come from smaller, preferably local manufacturers, although a few are sourced from Europe. My favorites are the beautifully boxed wood building blocks made with non-toxic paint and available in Chinese, Spanish, Japanese, Hebrew, French or Classic.
The “used inventory” is on a buy-sell-trade basis, and not usually consignment. “So right on the spot or if we’re really busy, a day or two later, you can get store credit or cash,” said Meredith, who also hosts a free “New Moms’ Group” every Wednesday from 10:30 to 12:30; mothers can grab a bite next door at the High Point Café and drop by at any time during the meeting with a child up to one year old. And once a month, they host a free two-hour diaper workshop with free samples provided. The Nesting House also posts a calendar of local pre-natal yoga and young kids’ music classes.