There are no days off when it comes to parenting, and chances are your kids aren’t going to take pity on your hectic schedule. Wiping runny noses, soccer practice, ice cream runs, trips to the park and zoo will be waiting at home for you no matter how many zillions of hours you spend at the office.
In addition to her full-time career in finance, one of Ashley Dieck’s main responsibilities is keeping daughters Hannah and Clare active and entertained, especially during the summer months when school is out. With online searches becoming time-consuming and sometimes convoluted, Dieck would rely on word of mouth — namely, the advice of her nanny.
Then a friend introduced Dieck to Sawyer — an app named after the fictional Mark Twain character — and booking children’s activities, from arts and crafts to trips to the zoo, became a welcome reality for the NoHo resident.
“Working in finance, there’s no flexibility in my schedule, but I needed to strike a balance between my career and parenthood,” Dieck says. “Using Sawyer, it simplifies the booking process and even allows me to plan ahead with my kids’ activity schedules.”
Sawyer (hisawyer.com) is the brainchild of a pair of former Rent the Runway executives — Marissa Evans Alden and partner Stephanie Choi — who came up with the idea after dealing with their own difficulties securing fun and educational activities for their kids so they could focus on the multi-million-dollar online dress-rental giant. The concept was a no-brainer.
“Here I could get you a dress within an hour by the click of your phone,” Evans Alden says. “But when it came to something as important as your child’s education, it was challenging figuring out what to do.”
With a multitude of activities for children listed each day throughout the week, Sawyer could be compared to popular workout app ClassPass, but according to Evans Alden, she’d rather you think of Sawyer as a children’s version of OpenTable, the no-fee online restaurant reservation platform. “We don’t charge monthly rates,” Evans Alden says. Sawyer launched in New York and Los Angeles in 2015 and within the past few weeks has expanded nationwide to cities such as Philadelphia and Boston.
Marissa Evans Alden and partner Stephanie Choi
From Rent the Runway to renting a fun day for your children
Evans Alden says well over 100,000 users take to Sawyer regularly. The biggest challenge, according to Evans Alden, a tech and startup specialist, was getting providers and vendors up-to-date on their own technology, ditching the spreadsheets (even faxes) and coming aboard the app.
“The providers are happy because the software is easy to use and user-friendly, and the parents enjoy that it’s mobile-friendly and can fit into their daily lives.”
A scroll through New York on any given morning and you can find activities such as nature walks, Little League baseball, invention creation, music and reading, cooking, not to mention all-day summer camps. The age ranges are from infants to young adults.
Sawyer has also recently rolled out its Marketplace, a hyper-local, personalized shopping experience for parents, to help them discover the best providers in their neck of the woods.
“A nice part of Sawyer Marketplace is, it offers parents an option to save time instead of making phone calls, Google searching, contacting friends for suggestions. You can avoid most of the research with this one-stop shop. What you’re getting [with Sawyer] is great variety for your community,” Evans Alden says.