Jenn Mawcinitt is a wife, a mother, a former special education teacher, and most recently, an entrepreneur and the owner of Wildlings Toy Boutique in Phoenix.
The different roles that Mawcinitt has acquired over the years have all played a part in helping her develop the concept behind Wildlings Toy Boutique, which aims to provide quality toys that spark purposeful and joy-filled play for children.
After graduating from Arizona State University, Mawcinitt took part in Teach for America where she was assigned a kindergarten and art teaching position in the Mississippi Delta region for two years.
When she finished the program, she returned to ASU to complete her Master’s Degree and went on to teach special education for 10 years in the Valley, eventually becoming a Special Education Director.
In the midst of her teaching career, Mawcinitt met and married her husband, and the two welcomed their first child, Easton, who’s now four.
Mawcinitt said she and her husband enjoyed taking their son on trips over her school breaks and summer vacations and always sought out toy boutiques in other cities.
“We went to a really cute [toy store] in Olympia, Washington,” Mawcinitt recalled. “The store was really bright and fun and had a great feel to it. I wanted to come back and find all the toy boutiques here in Phoenix.”
Mawcinitt said it was then that she realized there was a bit of a gap in the industry which sparked the idea for opening up a toy boutique in her area.
While pregnant with her daughter Luna, who’s now two, Mawcinitt said she suffered from severe prenatal and postpartum depression and ultimately decided to take a step away from her demanding teaching position to focus on her mental health.
Her therapist suggested she find a creative outlet to aid in the healing process and Mawcinitt said she kept going back to the toy boutique idea.
“I’ve always been very passionate about play,” said Mawcinitt. “I feel like it’s the most important way that kids learn. With my experience teaching kindergarten, art, and special education, I knew I wanted to help other families learn more about the power of play and toys that are purposeful.”
With no experience owning and operating a business, Mawcinitt said she relied heavily on friends and family to create a network that would eventually assist her in opening Wildlings Toy Boutique.
“It was the power of a great network that got me going,” she said, adding, “It was all a learning process. I felt comfortable with toys but hadn’t done anything with owning a business.”
Mawcinitt said she reached out to a friend who was lawyer who helped her obtain her LLC license, called up another friend who worked as a graphic designer to create a logo and marketing materials. She even recruited help from her father who worked as the contractor helping Mawcinitt with the building process of the store front.
With a background in education, Mawcinitt said she knew she wanted to consult with other educators as well as collaborate with physical, occupational and speech therapists for input on the types of toys she wanted to sell.
“From my experience in the classroom, I knew what was important with development for gross and fine motor skills, communication, and also wanted to incorporate toys that would teach turn-taking skills, and following directions,” said Mawcinitt. “I heavily researched quality and design and did a lot of trials with my own kids to see what things they loved.”
Eventually, Mawcinitt opened Wildlings Toy Boutique in August 2021 and says she has loved getting to interact with her customers in person.
“All of the people in our community have been so welcoming,” said Mawcinitt. “We already have some very loyal customers and I love being able to recognize people when they come into the shop. It’s fun to start to know the families personally.”
Inside the store, shoppers will find that all products are sorted by age—from newborn to teens and there are even some puzzles and games for adults.
“There’s a little something for everyone,” said Mawcinitt. “We’re a smaller shop but we’re curated so that every toy is meaningful and different. You’ll find things you can’t find in Target or on Amazon.”
Mawcinitt said she also wanted play to be accessible to everyone, no matter their budget, and offers a variety of price points without sacrificing the quality.
“There are toys that everyone can afford in our store,” she says. “But everything is of a certain quality. We picked things that are better for the planet, things that can last a while, and can be passed along to other children.”
Creating an inviting and fun shopping experience was also something Mawcinitt took into consideration when designing the store and its concept.
“The shop is very bright and white and fun with lots of hands-on things that kids can play with and try but it’s not overwhelming for parents,” she says.
With the holiday season approaching, Mawcinitt says that Wildlings has lots of fun deals and events planned.
The store has a digital holiday catalog on their website that includes a coupon for a discount. Customers can shop in-person, order online with shipping, or choose store pick-up. There’s also the option to call the store and Mawcinitt says they will put together a personalized gift basket depending on the interests of the child.
They will be offering a Black Friday event where shoppers who spend $50 will get a $10 gift card or those who spend a $100 will get a $25 gift card.
Outside in the store’s courtyard, Mawcinitt says they have been hosting different in-person events such as cookie decorating, story-times, and crafts. More details about upcoming events can be found on the company’s Instagram page: @wildlingstoys
While Macnitnitt says there are days where it’s difficult to juggle being a mom, a wife, and now, a business owner, she says it’s her passion for learning, play and fun that has kept her focused on making this dream a reality.
“It’s the kind of stuff I want for my family,” she says. “I hope that both kids and adults have fun searching for the perfect thing and that they find the right toy that sparks joy for them.”
For more information visit: wildlingstoys.com