SPOTLIGHT: ALLIE KLIEN OF ROSE AND REX
There is so much to love about Rose and Rex, from the elegantly designed toys that promote imaginative play, to their “play-it-forward” commitment to supporting organizations equally dedicated to people and planet. We love that every purchase with Rose & Rex makes a positive impact and are excited to share their virtual classes and play kits with you!
Naturally such an interesting product has a great founding story. Read on to learn more about today’s giveaway partner.
Tell us about yourself and your background Allie, what lead you to start Rose and Rex?
I’m Allie Klein, the Founder of Rose & Rex. I currently live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with my husband, Jason, and our newborn son, Alexander. Before starting Rose & Rex, I earned my master’s degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. I deeply believe in the power of play-based learning and how essential it is to all children’s development.
Rose and Rex was dreamt up during my years as a teacher. I fell in love with the imagination and creativity my students brought into the classroom when play was connected to learning. After observing how play could organically support children’s social, cognitive, emotional and physical development — and that playtime was rapidly getting cut from school curriculums —, I was eager to build a brand that would start a larger conversation about our culture’s approach to learning. I recognized that not everyone saw the value of play the same way I did. People tend to see play and learning as opposites rather than deeply connected complements. With this in mind, I created Rose and Rex to be a refreshing, imaginative toy boutique and play and parenting resource.
Why did you choose to focus your toys around children’s development over other areas of the education field?
I'm so passionate about play, specifically play with open-ended toys, because it is the foundation for all learning in early childhood. I chose to focus on toys because I believe that what children play with matters, from what materials are made of to how toys engage them. Every toy selected for Rose & Rex is purposefully selected to help children develop fundamental skills in an organic way. Our team views toys as tools to support development.
Your product offerings are divided into age, activity, and skills, how did you go about creating these categories and the subcategories within them? What research did you find that lead to format Rose and Rex the way you did?
We divided our products this way because we wanted the categories to feel playful and active like the toys they contain. The skill-based categories are designed to help our community understand how open-ended play supports complete development. Play can be a powerful way to work toward developmental goals in a way that is fun and feels natural to children.
What are some of your best selling guides and kits and why?
Right now, given the season, we're seeing a lot of interest in toys for indoor play experiences. We've seen a lot of excitement about our sensory potion play kits, block sets and new Rose & Rex indoor scavenger hunt, which is a designed scavenger hunt that includes illustrated and rhyming clues to support movement and exploration for all ages.
We also have seen a real demand for our resources, like our Guide to Positive Language Strategies. The past couple of years have been so crazy and we think parents are really looking for new kinds of support. The guide introduces practical strategies to help families communicate effectively and respectively through a positive language approach.
Why do you think the Calm Mind Kit is your best selling kit to date?
I think the kit is a bestseller because now, more than ever, we could all use a collective deep breath along with strategies to reduce stress. We created the Calm Mind Kit as a comprehensive tool for families to help lower anxiety, increase happiness and build empathy and connection. Through playful exercises, the Kit teaches concepts like progressive muscle relaxation, deep breath and visualization.
What is the largest challenge you face as a self-funded brand?
I think the biggest challenge is figuring out how to grow sustainably. We have so many ideas for new products and resources that we want to create but since we are self-funded we have to be deliberate about what we invest in developing. It’s important for us to understand our community needs and align the timing of our product launches accordingly.
Congratulations on being listed under Forbes 30 under 30! What do you attribute most to your success?
Thank you so much! I attribute the success of Rose & Rex to our team. In my view, collaboration is essential in creating the best possible product. I have an incredible team of people behind me and every decision is made through discussion, debate and countless hours of conversation, which ultimately challenges me and results in the best final product.
How has being a female founded and run brand impacted Rose and Rex?
Being a female-founded brand and working with so many incredible women has been essential to Rose & Rex's success. I am so inspired by the team of women I work with and by the amazing female entrepreneurs I have had the opportunity to meet and learn from on this journey.
What are your goals for 2022? Where do you see Rose and Rex going next?
In 2022 we are focused on expanding our Mindful Parenting offerings. From virtual parenting classes to digital Positive Language resources to mindful toys, our focus is on prioritizing the social and emotional development of children and families.
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