Oak Park mom helps find kids activities
Carrie Kovach of Oak Park, who recently moved from the city with husband Jay Schulman to raise 21-month-old daughter Charlotte, heads up a local Hulafrog website. | Photo courtesy Carrie Kovach
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:06AM
OAK PARK — Looking for kid-friendly activities that are fun, possibly even educational, and close to home? Don’t forget to check with the frog.
The Hulafrog, to be precise, a growing national chain of local web sites run by moms for moms featuring information about child-centered resources and activities — including a newly launched outlet covering Oak Park, River Forest and the general vicinity.
“It’s a great one-stop shop for moms to use,” said local Hulafrog honcho Carrie Kovach of Oak Park, who recently moved from the city with husband Jay Schulman to raise 21-month-old daughter Charlotte. “I had been thinking of wanting to do something like this on my own, because there are a lot of sites in the city that aggregate that sort of thing, and something like that for kids seemed like something I’d like to use myself.
“Then I heard about Hulafrog and realized they’re doing exactly what I wanted to do — and they have lots of support behind the operation.”
Hulafrog was created less than two years ago by New Jersey entrepreneurs (and moms) Kerry Bowbliss and Sherry Lombardi, who had thoughts similar to Kovach’s before launching the first Hulafrog site in their hometown of Red Bank. Within a year, their site had captured 59 percent of the local market and was preparing to launch follow-up franchises. There are 26 Hulafrog sites from Chandler, Ariz., to Yorba Linda, Calif., all scouring their local areas for listings appropriate for kids through age 12 and each operated by trained Hula-moms in exchange for a share of the profits.
“I think of it primarily as a resource for families and that’s what excites me most about it,” said Kovach, who worked in an ad agency as a media planner and buyer before her daughter was born. She likes that she can fit her working hours into her daughter’s schedule.
“I love researching things and finding things to do with my daughter and this gives me a way to share the information I find with other moms,” Kovach said.
“But Hulafrog is also a smart business because it gives advertisers a great tool for reaching parents in the community,” she added. “It’s very targeted, very focused. If you’re looking for parents, that’s all you’re getting on our site. Especially moms, and they’re a very desirable target because they spend a lot of money on activities for their kids.”
Since launching the Oak Park/River Forest Hulafrog a month ago, Kovach has maintained a database of 500 area businesses offering kid-centered services — which businesses can update on their own — and collecting subscribers for her two weekly emailed newsletters, plus a Thursday update featuring recommendations for the weekend.
Most of Kovach’s listings zero in on the Oak Park and River Forest area, but she also includes noteworthy activities a little farther afield.
“As a mom, I try to figure out which resources and events might be worth a drive into the city,” she said.
Kovach said she’s already found many resources she hadn’t been aware of before, such as the Cook County Forest Preserve’s Trailside Museum in River Forest and an assortment of classes offered by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust to get kids interested in architecture and design.