By Tom Kocal for ThisIsLaramie.com TKocal915@icloud.com 815-275-3025
LARAMIE, WY, June 1 — Once upon a time, former preschool teacher Rhianna Handschu had a vision for a small business in support of Laramie’s home-bound children and parents.
In the early months of the pandemic, the mother of a newborn knew that young families needed access to quality toys and experiences. That prompted Handschu to launch The Nest Toy Library, a membership platform for renting a carefully curated selection of toys, puzzles, and games to support early childhood development.
Handschu created the lending model to encourage intentional and educational experiences for children, to instill a responsibility in parents to offer age-appropriate toys, and to help parents save money and cut down on environmental impact.
Featuring several membership levels, the online platform offers toys for up to two-week rental periods, with three weekly opportunities to return for new toys on “swap days.”
Handschu was directed to the Wyoming Women’s Business Center’s COVID-19 Support Program in the Spring of 2020. She was presented with an array of free business resources to assist in launching The Nest’s online presence to introduce the new business to Laramie’s families.
“The Wyoming Women’s Business Center was pivotal in getting us what we needed to become a legitimate business,” Handschu said. “Being able to work with a website developer was huge and really the backbone of our business.”
Partnering with a local website designer to build The Nest’s online library and rental hub, Handschu worked with a professional photographer through the WWBC’s B2B Digital Design Services. She also worked on social media and digital marketing with Jessica Brauer, Outreach Counselor for the COVID-19 Support Program.
“Rhianna came to the WWBC with a clear vision of the business she wanted to create,” Brauer said. “We were able to point her in the right direction to get started and find resources that best supported a busy mother in tackling the necessary outreach efforts to get a small business off the ground. She was a quick study and dedicated to her new venture, and it shows!”
“I feel more confident in myself as a business owner. It’s been life-changing to have that support. Otherwise, it would have been a much harder road to get where we are at now,” Handschu said.
“I feel like if I do hit bumps in the road, there are options. I have people who know what they’re doing in my corner if I need it.”
To learn more about Wyoming Women’s Business Center, visit wyomingwomen.org.
View the complete Woman-Owned Series profile and video for The Nest Toy Library here.