Toying around with an idea can lead to big things. Lovevery, a company specializing in toys and books for early child development, was founded in 2017 by Jessica Rolph and Roderick Morris.
Rolph, CEO and co-founder of Lovevery, grew up in Minnesota. After spending time in New York (including getting an MBA from Cornell), she moved to Idaho in 2007, where she grew Happy Family, a company she co-founded in 2003 with Shazi Visram. Happy Family is the first organic brand to offer a complete line of nutritious organic foods for babies, toddlers and kids. That company was sold in 2013 to Danone.
Besides feeding the body, Rolph became interested in feeding the mind, and a new company was soon born. Lovevery developed “an essential early learning program that can make a big impact on your child’s future,” says Rolph. “Our purpose is to help parents feel confident about their child’s development.”
Rolph established a 50/50 collaboration with Morris from the beginning of Lovevery. Morris, who has an MBA from Stanford, is the husband of Andrea, Rolph’s lifelong best friend. Morris had experience building companies and movements with environmental and social impact. He was masterful at making things happen and generating results.
Morris moved to Boise in 2017 from Washington, D.C., with his wife and 14-year-old twins. Morris focuses on growth, digital, international sales, and finance as co-founder and president at Lovevery. He points out that in just five years, Lovevery has expanded across the United States, Canada, the U.K., and Europe and is next launching into Asia. He is proud that this company, founded in Boise, now has 300 employees, half of whom reside in Idaho. In addition, he notes all members of the innovation team are based in Idaho, including Amanda O’Grady, vice president of product innovation. She lives in the Sun Valley area.
Rolph and Morris also both have homes in the Sun Valley area.
Another member of the team from the Sun Valley area is Stacy Whitman, managing editor of the Lovevery app. “I saw a job opening on LinkedIn and jumped at the opportunity to work for a Boise-based start-up. My background working for Parenting, New Parent, Baby & Toddler, and other magazines seemed like a perfect fit,” says Whitman. In addition, she explains, “My freshman college roommate was born and raised in Ketchum. She introduced me to my husband, and we moved here in 2003. After our arrival, I worked as senior editor of Sun Valley Magazine. We are now raising our three children in Hailey.”
Clare Hague, the creative director, grew up in Sun Valley and went to Wood River High School. “During the summer after my sophomore year of college, I got an art internship with Sun Valley Magazine. They were in the middle of working on The Sun Valley Storybook, and it was my first exposure to setting up rules and creative guidelines around color, typography, and layout. I remember sitting with boxes of old photographs from the resort, scanning and preparing images for layout. I see that book everywhere, and I’m very grateful to have played a part in its development.”
Lovevery was on Hague’s radar because her husband plays in a local hockey league with Rolph’s husband. “When Lovevery was ready to bring creative in-house, Jess’ husband introduced me to Rod, and I joined the team shortly after,” says Hague.
Lovevery launched in November 2017 with its first product –The Play Gym, and soon expanded to include The Play Kits, an early learning program sold by subscription. Every toy in a Play Kit is created by Lovevery and is designed by experts, based on neuroscience, and inspired by Montessori. They are built to last and made with sustainably harvested wood, organic cotton, and baby-safe materials.
Rolph noted that other play gyms in the market seemed the same, usually based around a theme with stuffed animals hanging down. “They didn’t help a child with developmental milestones. We saw an opportunity to create an evolving system of play for the first year of a child’s life,” says Rolph. “The product evolves as a child grows.”
Lovevery knows nothing is more important than your baby’s physical, cognitive, visual and motor learning, from lifting their head as a newborn to hide-and-seek as a toddler. Five Montessori-inspired development zones on The Play Gym Mat reveal or conceal to prevent overstimulation, teach focus, and sound making, encourage sensory exploration, hiding and finding, and exploring colors. Every Play Gym also comes with a parent guide to help parents learn the age-appropriate activities to promote brain and motor skill development.
Morris notes that all Lovevery products are built “around what a child wants to learn.”
“It’s sometimes surprising to the customer that the child plays with our products longer than others,” says Rolph. “Children want to understand how the real world works. We build on that interest and create a new version of what a toy is.”
“It’s always exciting to see a new product being created and how children are reacting to it,” says Morris.
“We prototype and test all our products. We want to be sure to get it right,” adds Rolph.
Morris is proud of the Boise-based company that has experienced such financial success. He cited financial results of more than $200 million in run-rate sales revenue and plans for expansion into products for 4- and 5-year-olds and beyond.
“I love working for a company with a passion and mission to give children the best and healthiest start in life. Lovevery is also doing its part to reduce waste and combat climate change, which are personal interests of mine,” says Whitman.
Hague said it’s hard to choose one thing she likes most about Lovevery.
“We work with a lot of very passionate people who care deeply about the brand and our mission,” he says. “There is an obsession over every detail, from physical products to digital platforms, that allows us to keep learning and growing with each new initiative. Between Lovevery’s rainbow color palette and getting to work with adorable babies, there is a lot of joy in what we do every day.”
Rolph enthusiastically describes Lovevery books, which build empathy and are relatable social stories.
“The books serve the purpose to expand a child’s world,” he says. “We include different identities and representations. We give children an opportunity to see other worlds.”
The books have been translated into six different languages, and the company has shipped millions of copies. Rolph relates that a customer contacted Lovevery through Instagram and said, “We love your products. I’d love to see a book about a child with a prosthetic leg.”
As a result, Lovevery published Alora Makes a New Friend about a child with a limb difference in 2021. “It’s a sweet story,” says Rolph. “Co-creating with customers is one of the most joyful things we get to do.”
The company notes, “The Play Kits are a stage-based subscription program with playthings for babies/toddlers and tools and information for parents.”
Play Kits are available on lovevery.com and are delivered to your door every 2-3 months for ages 0-4 years. Subscriptions start at $36/month. A Play Guide for parents comes with each Play Kit and includes expert research, child development info, at-home activity ideas, and ways to play.