Letter from Rachael

Letter from Rachael

Open letter from Rachael, owner of The Little Treehouse Play Cafe

Dear Little Treehouse friends, old and new: 

After months of hard thinking, I am reaching out to all of you to let you know of some major changes I need to make at The Little Treehouse.

I have come to realize that being at the helm of a major business has drastically impacted my personal life. As many of you already know from my previous posts and e-mail messages, my beloved mother died several months ago, after a debilitating three-year struggle with illness. I felt blessed to be able to care for her in my home in the last years of her life, though it was challenging given my other responsibilities: raising my three young daughters and fulfilling my many duties at The Little Treehouse.

The inevitable period of intense grief following my mother’s death compelled me to step back and reflect on many areas of my life. The conclusion I reached was that I could not continue to manage The Little Treehouse—seven days a week, 12 hours a day—to maintain the quality of service which we’ve always tried to offer and focus on my desire to be the best mother and wife I can be. These are issues that probably most of we mothers share.

First, please know how wonderful the experience of creating The Little Treehouse has been—a journey which I could not have taken without the support and encouragement of you, my loyal and wonderful customers. From its first home in our tiny space on Germantown Avenue, to the Chestnut Hill fixture it now is, The Little Treehouse has been a truly heart-warming home away from home for me and for many others. Watching parents and children enjoying time together in the place which I built, and getting to know so many of you and your adorable children has been a great privilege. I have often become teary watching a packed house enjoying a kids concert, or parents and grandparents watching their four and five year-olds year olds performing in Miss Danielle’s dance recitals, or groups of friends enjoying dinner together on a Saturday night while their kids play.

But, with all my life demands, it has also proved overwhelming for me, and after almost five years of hard work building this incredible business, I believe it is time for me to pass the baton to an able, energetic business partner to manage The Little Treehouse, and I am actively looking for a qualified person to fulfill this role.  I am already in serious discussions with an interested party, but if any of you might also like to look into pursuing this opportunity, please be sure to get in touch to introduce yourself at: Treehousemanager@gmail.com

In this period while I transition to working with a new business partner, we will be reducing the number of days we are open during the week, as well as some of the services we offer. Please click here for details.

 

THE LITTLE TREEHOUSE MADE IN AFRICA CLOTHING LINE

In light of all of the above, I am turning to a more manageable but equally creative new venture which I am excited to introduce to you: the launch of a Little Treehouse Made in Africa Children’s Clothing Line.

I have always dreamed of producing children’s clothes which would reflect the same playful, vibrant, colorful West African folk art images that adorn the interior of The Little Treehouse, and which would also bring jobs to women in one of the poorest parts of the developing world.

Taking baby steps in 2012, I now have sketches for an initial line, some good contacts in Africa to help me with production and a two-sister design team (originally from Nigeria), who are two of the distinguished Designers in Residence at the Macy’s Philadelphia Fashion Incubator and create their own line of African-inspired women’s clothing which they also plan to produce in Africa. 

At the heart of this new venture is the commitment to mothers supporting mothers—a unique relationship all we moms depend on, and know all too well to be crucial in raising our families.

Although I will, of course, miss many parts of my daily involvement with the institution—and community—that The Little Treehouse has become, I look forward to entering this new phase, along with you, all my wonderful customers and friends, and to sharing the progress of this new business via the Little Treehouse website, our newsletter, and Facebook page as it unfolds.

Thank you!

 Rachael

 

 

8 Comments

  1. Mike Dorsey

    Dear Rachael,

    I am sorry to learn of your mother’s passing. I lost my mother on March 4, 2007 and she was 64. My dad died on January 3, 1974 at 32.

    I emphathize your grieving and also I congratulate you on your new stepping stones of taking care of yourself.

    I meant to send you an earlier reply that your staff has been phenomenal especially since my wife and I are deaf, they have been very courteous and kind toward us.

    Enjoy your new life.

    Mike Dorsey

    • Mike,

      I’m so very sorry that I am only just replying to your message. I have only just realised that there were messages for me on our website. Someone else manages our site, and she has been sick for a while, so it has only just come to my attention.

      Mike, these kind messages from customers mean a great deal to me, and also to my staff. I will be sure to pass on your sentiments. They are, indeed, fantastic.

      I am in serious discussions with a few potential purchasers for the business, so I hope you’ll keep coming, even when it is under new management. And I look forward to keeping you and all our customers updated as the clothing line inches its way towards reality.

      My very best wishes and thanks,
      Rachael

  2. Rachael,

    I’m so sorry for your loss! I think you’re on the right track, stepping back because you know it’s the right thing for you at this time of your life. You’ve built such a successful business in a challenging economic climate. I know you’ll have great success in any future endeavors.

    Best of luck!

    Kathy Wolper

    • treehousemanager

      Thank you so much for this comment, Kathy. I’ve only just seen it because I’m an idiot about internet stuff, and the person who manages my site has been otherwise occupied recently.

      I’m glad you see why I have to step back. But I’m not going away completely! I’m hoping to be able to bring you news as the clothing line plans develop. Right now I’m sourcing fabric (just found a wonderful range of organic cotton and hemp), and trying to find someone in Africa to produce our clothing. There is a fabulous factory in Kenya that I really wanted to work with – they are environmentally friendly, humanitarian, etc etc – but they are at capacity for now. So back to the drawing board!

      Thank you again, and do please keep coming to our site.

      With very best wishes,
      Rachael

  3. Dear Rachel,

    My condolences to you and your family. What an extraordinary thing you did, caring for your ill mother while taking care of your three young daughters, and running a business.

    Our family have patronized The Little Treehouse since the small store front on G Ave to your current location. We have so many fond memories of play dates, birthday parties and even a wedding at the Little Treehouse. It has been, and continues to be, a fun place for our kids to play and us parents to relax a little. I hope the Little Treehouse remains a neighborhood fixture.

    Congratulations and good luck with your new venture. It sounds exciting! 🙂

    Best wishes,
    Tiffany

    • treehousemanager

      Tiffany,

      Being a complete Neanderthal when it comes to all things internet, I have only just discovered that there were messages waiting for me – hence not replying until now.

      Thank you for your lovely note. Yes, it was tough juggling all those different needs, but I’m still standing!

      I much look forward to sharing progress with the clothing line as it develops. I’m definitely blazing a trail by trying to produce in Africa, but I believe it is do-able.

      With very best wishes,
      Rachael

  4. Lea Rahman

    Hi Rachael,
    My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. I know it was a difficult decision to make, stepping down from your business, however understandable. My mother passed away recently and I made the same decision to step down from our business.

    Mothers are a gift to all, losing one is heart breaking. I’m sure your customers would understand fully. You ran a wonderful business that the entire community loves. Take this time for yourself and your family. When the time is right, I’m sure we will see you again:)

    Thank you for the Little TreeHouse!

    Lea

    • Lea,

      Thank you so much for this lovely message, which I have only just seen: being technologically challenged I didn’t realise there were messages waiting for me – not to mention having the flu!

      Thank you also for your kind comments about The Little Treehouse, where I am sitting as I type this. It was, indeed, a difficult decision, but I know it was the right one – and I’ll still be involved as I continue to develop my Made in Africa clothing line.

      You are right on the mark about mothers. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming grief I experienced, and still experience, but people who told me that time heals are right. The waves of grief are becoming less frequent.

      Mainly, I am just so happy that my mother was able to be in our home as her health declined, that she knew she was loved, and was surrounded by family. I was with her every day, as were her grandchildren. Nothing was left un-said. I even have a recording of our last conversation (which I didn’t know would be the last – she seemed to be rallying) on my i-phone. I would wish this for anyone who loves their parents.

      Thank you again,
      Rachael

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