A Torch Is Passed In Brooklyn

Nicole Horne and Kim Janulewicz
Nicole Horne and Kim Janulewicz, photo by Kelly Bruso Photography

EDITOR’S NOTE: Brooklyn families should note that A Child Grows’ annual Brooklyn Baby And Family Expo is coming up on Sunday, April 6. New York Family is pleased to be offering 20 budget tickets to the expo—click HERE to enter using your email address! Plus, all NYF readers are eligible to use the code NYFAM15OFF to get 15 percent off tickets of all prices/levels! Click HERE to buy your tickets. 

Like the famous book which inspired its name, the website A Child Grows is inseparably linked to the borough of Brooklyn. Since its founding in 2006, the site has been a popular guide to family life in the borough and beyond, noted for its reliable resources and recommendations, and a passionate and personal sensibility that reflected the tastes of its founder, Karen Connell. Last January, when Connell and her family moved to Chicago, she sold A Child Grows to two Brooklyn moms—Nicole Horne and Kim Janulewicz—who, she felt, understood its special niche and would be dedicated to nurturing the website and serving its families.

Friends since they first met in a “new moms” class in Park Slope, Horne and Janulewicz do indeed seem every bit as dedicated to A Child Grows as Connell was, even as they balance it against their commitments to their day jobs and their families. One year in seemed like just the right time to check in with them on lessons learned and plans of their own..

How would you describe the essence of the website to someone who had never heard about it?

Kim Janulewicz: A Child Grows is the largest parenting website in Brooklyn and one of the most well-known and beloved in the New York City area in general. Our mission is to be a source of information for parents, for helping them with their daily parenting concerns and also providing them with information about local services and businesses, and family-friendly events.

Nicole Horne: I would add that the majority of our audience is New York-based. Our audience that resides outside of Brooklyn comes to us for those general articles on big parenting topics like sleeping and eating. And our core Brooklyn audience comes to us not only for those general articles but for our local events and resources that we feature.

KJ: Since one of the subjects we focus on is eco-parenting too, we also have a small concentrated audience, which is kind of funny, in Berkeley, California.

Do either of you have a favorite part of the website that you love reading or contributing to?

NH: The benefit of being in Brooklyn is that the parenting population is so diverse that you could bring up a topic and have an opinion on it and then hear ten other opinions about it. It’s mind-opening … I think that’s been my most treasured moment with A Child Grows, seeing the diversity, seeing the opinions, and how parenting is just a path you have to create for yourself and there are a million different ways to do it.

Tell us a little bit about your lives before taking over the website.

KJ: We met at a new moms group at Boing Boing. We were one of the few moms in our group going back to work immediately after our maternity leave. That was one thing that really connected us.

NH: Both Kim and I have really enjoyed our jobs and there were definitely pains going back and forth between our maternity leaves because, you know, leaving a new baby was hard… So when the opportunity came up to take over the site, we jumped on it because it combined passions of ours that we were lacking in our corporate jobs, which are kids and Brooklyn. So it was just a perfect match for us.

How do you balance everything?

NH: We surround ourselves with really good people. We have wonderful staff that works for A Child Grows that are supportive and creative, but also our husbands. They take an equal partnership in raising our children and keeping our house… The way Kim and I try to balance is that we’re always trying to be present in the moment. So whether that’s on a conference call or at the park with our kids or whatnot, just really being there and not thinking about the next thing that we’re doing or the next email we have to send.

KJ: When we first started we were killing ourselves trying to do everything and be everything and we got to the point where we just thought: we have to slow down and we have to really think about the big picture…so there are a lot of things that we would like to do with the business, but that’s something that we’ve made peace with. That now is not the time. We’re dealing with what we can take on at the moment, and we have a great staff now. We have a great situation at home. Both of us have very reliable childcare situations, and we’ve been able to find balance in that.

Are you eventually going to try to do anything different with it (in either big or small ways)?

NH: We’re definitely starting to do a lot more live events. Our community is really strong and focused online, which is great, but sometimes it’s nice to meet offline. Also, the site is definitely more comprehensive in terms of “our picks” with what to do with your kids. We started a weekday picks for stay-at-home moms and dads…then we updated our calendar so you’re now able to download it from month to month.

Speaking of events, tell us about the upcoming Brooklyn Baby and Family Expo in April.

KJ: There’s a big local component to our show, and that’s what we’re all about. We want the local products and services providers out there, because people want to know what’s in their backyard. They want to know where the preschools are and where the pediatrician’s offices are, where the play spaces are, and they want to learn about how to use the baby carrier and where to buy it… We also have a very strong focus on education. So we offer ongoing seminars throughout the day so that people can really take advantage of meeting with professionals who can talk to them about healthy sleep habits and best practices in parenting in general.

What has the struggle been like to manage an already established website, to live up to something that has set expectations?

NH: I don’t think we would have taken this on if the ideology of the site weren’t in line with what our opinions were and what we thought. In that way, it was easy because the persona of the site matched our own. But there’s been a lot of pressure, we want to make sure it stays a great resource because it’s been around for six, seven years… I think that’s been the challenge, just to make sure that we live up to the old audience’s expectations and I think from the feedback that we’ve gotten, we have.

What’s been most rewarding about this experience?

NH: Talking to the audience members and the kudos always makes you feel good because it makes you feel like you’re doing good in the world. I’ve got to say one of the most interesting things has been all the amazing business people we’ve met in Brooklyn. Whether they’re entrepreneurs or have a start up or have a new kids play area or what not. It’s just amazing, all these people doing awesome things and it’s very community-oriented.

KJ: It’s been a true inspiration for us, hearing other people’s stories, and very encouraging also, talking to people who’ve been where we are.