For many parents, the process of discovering new activities for their children is both difficult and time consuming.
“Parents are busy, whether you’re a working parent, whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re busy,” said Olivia Leon. “You want to find great activities for your kids and you want to find activities that they will love and enjoy.”
To help with that search, Leon and her business partner, Amanda Cole, launched Pretzl, a website that helps parents quickly and easily find activities for their children.
“Our mission is to help parents find great activities for their kids, whether it’s a six-week summer camp around coding or it’s Friday night and (they want to) find something fun,” Cole said.Pretzl allows parents to search, discover and book classes for their children, all on one site.
“Amanda and I were talking, and we were sort of commiserating about how difficult it is as two busy working moms to find great activities for our kids,” Leon said. “You’ll hear about this great new multisport class from another mom in your child’s school, but it’s already started, or you’re too late to sign up, and then you go on to Google and you try to look it up, but it’s hard. We just felt like there has to be a better way.”
Their new website features more than 5,000 local activities, classes, camps, events and parties for children.
“You can search for ballet and have all these different dance studios come up with all different philosophies,” Leon said. “Whether you want something really structured that will train your child to be the best possible dancer or you’re looking for something more freeform, they’re all there together.”
“Or you don’t care about what the philosophy is, you just want something that’s a minute from your son’s taekwondo class,” Cole added.
On Pretzl, activities or other offerings can also be found by searching for keywords or subject matter.
“My son is just getting into Star Wars, so you can go onto the site and type in ‘Star Wars,’ and you’ll get a Star Wars Minecraft class, a Star Wars Lego class,” Leon said. “Parents don’t have to search for things just in a traditional category set. It’s helping parents find great activities and activities they never knew their kids always wanted to try.”
Activities range from horseback riding to sailing and can be filtered on the site by type, price, age, date or location.
The site is free for parents or other customers and there are no added fees for booking through Pretzl.
Instead, if a vendor’s class is booked through the Pretzl site, that organization would pay a commission fee to Pretzl. Vendors also have free access to Pretzl’s scheduling system.
Cole said the site also serves as a solution for businesses and facilities looking to fill their unsold inventory.
“Our partners are looking for new ways to get the word out,” Cole said. “Moms are on their phone all the time. The circular they may have toted around for years, times are changing. I think they’re really excited to test this and to experiment with new advertising avenues.”
Following the purchase of a class, parents will be able to manage their children’s’ schedules on Pretzl through their smartphone or computer.
“You can purchase on the spot, it’s not redirecting you, you can do everything there,” Cole said.
This is not the first business venture for Cole. In 2009, she launched Yummy Mummy, a “one-stop shop” for breastfeeding mothers and the largest durable medical equipment provider in the country specializing in breast pumps.
“I recognized a need of a store where you could buy everything for breastfeeding and get all the supplies you needed, and also take classes or join support groups,” Cole said.
The business has a retail store at 1201 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan, along with a significant mail-order business.
“We ship breast pumps all over the country,” Cole said, adding that the company sends out roughly 1,000 pumps per week.
Leon, who has a background in marketing, came on board at Yummy Mummy in 2014 as director of marketing.
“I knew we would be a great team launching this new business together,” Leon said.
For their newest venture, the duo decided to start Pretzl in Westchester County. In the future, the company may look to expand farther into Connecticut or Long Island.
“It’s my backyard,” Cole, a Hartsdale resident, said of Westchester. “There are so many amazing options here that I don’t think people know about. It felt like a really good playground, so we said, ‘Let’s do this right, let’s launch here, and let’s make this perfect.’”
The duo also has plans to launch a loyalty points program and a mobile app.
“Our focus right now is just getting this right,” Cole said.
As for the name of their website, the business partners said that according to some historians, the earliest pretzels were dubbed “pretiolas,” a Latin word that translates to “little rewards.” With Pretzl, Cole and Leon said they hope to give children the reward of great experiences, while also giving parents “the reward of easily finding and booking those experiences.”
The name also has another meaning for Cole and Leon.
“Wherever there’s fun and kids there’s usually pretzels,” Cole said.