Photo: Left to right – Naeemah Adams, Cassandra Sturdivant Watt and Jenn Brooks
Tell us about Mud Puddle Toys and why you bought it. Mud Puddle Toys has been a staple of downtown Marblehead since 2003 but faced closure during the Covid pandemic. I was friends with the original owners, Kristen and Sam Pollard, so we worked together on a plan to transition ownership over to me. I could not imagine Marblehead without our neighborhood toy store. I have three children who, at the time, were 4, 6, and 8 years – I knew my children, and so many children and families in Marblehead, would be devastated if the store closed. Thankfully that didn’t happen. We had our Grand Reopening in May 2021.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I ever got was how important it is to hire and retain the best staff possible. I was extremely grateful that Jenn Brooks, the longtime manager of Mud Puddle Toys, stayed on with us. I also hired Naeemah Adams, who I had known for some time and had come from a retail background. I can honestly say that the reason the store is doing as well as it is today is because of the hard work and dedication of those two wonderful women. I’d be in the weeds without them, and I am reminded daily of how fortunate I am to have them here with me at Mud Puddle.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? Mookies! As I write this, I am having a wonderful breakfast of toast and peanut butter and a delicious tea from Mookies. Jenn, Naeemah, and I are there all the time and think that Tish and her staff do an amazing job. I love that we have such great small businesses here in Marblehead.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? Many people are surprised to learn that I’m a librarian. I finished up my MLIS from Simmons when I was 9 months pregnant with my oldest son, then was a stay-at-home mom until I took over Mud Puddle Toys, so I never really got the chance to use my degree in a traditional sense. However, I bring a lot of my knowledge about libraries and community engagement into my work at Mud Puddle, which is really great.
Tell us about Kids in Motion Dance Studio and why you started it. Kids in Motion Dance Studio began 17 years ago. My girls grew up dancing at a studio in Marblehead and I loved every minute of their experience. I felt like Marblehead needed an option for children to dance recreationally, meaning that dance didn’t have to be their main activity and children could take as little as one class or as many classes as they wanted. At Kids in Motion, children can take hip hop without having to take ballet. We offer a wide variety of dance classes for all levels and ages, preschool through high school. The instruction from our staff is high quality in a relaxing, caring and family feel type studio. You can register your kids for our Fall classes at www.kidsinmotiondancestudio.com
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received, or advice you would like to share? When it comes to business advice, I would say, “Always trust your gut and follow your instincts”.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why?I love all of Marblehead. I grew up and raised my family here in town. One of my favorite spots is Gatchell Park. It holds a lot of great memories for me of the hundreds of baseball games my son played there.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?I think people would be surprised to learn that I love to knit. It’s a relaxing hobby that I really enjoy.
Kids In Motion Dance Studio
Owner: Susie Likins [email protected]
Tell us about The Power of Speech and why you started it. The Power of Speech provides speech and language therapy to children of all ages and abilities. We have a welcoming therapy space right at my house in Marblehead, as well as a backyard that is designed with my clients in mind. Connecting with each child, building their confidence, and growing their ability to effectively communicate in a way that works best for them are a few things I am passionate about. I started my private practice in 2016 after working at two other therapy clinics. I was excited to take what I learned from those experiences and transform it into my own vision. I am so thankful to be able to say that I truly love what I do!
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? The best piece of advice I have been given is to “focus on the experience”. I want each child to come to therapy and know that learning can be fun. After that, it’s important to me that parents and caregivers feel comfortable with the therapy plan I have set in place. Ongoing collaboration is encouraged between families, teachers, and other therapists. From start to finish, I want the experience at The Power of Speech to feel comfortable, individualized, and empowering.
What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? Forest River Conservation is a favorite spot for our whole family (dogs and kids included). We always see something new while exploring the trails during the different seasons.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? People might be surprised to learn that I received therapy from a speech and language pathologist until I was 8 years old, because some sounds were just hard for me to say. I remember wondering if I would ever be able to say the word “world”. Turns out…speech and language pathologists know how to help with that sort of thing!
The Power of Speech
Owner: Jessica Brown M.S. CCC-SLP [email protected]