Social Tykes to Be a Hub for Overextended Parents and Their Little Ones

The play space is expected to open in Corktown this summer
social tykes detroit play
Time Out: Social Tykes will feature a colorful space for kids to play while their grownups decompress. // illustrations by Madeline King; Social Tykes rendering courtesy of Raven Fisher 

After the birth of her first son in 2015, Raven Fisher was, as you might expect, an exhausted and overwhelmed new mom. “One time, I pulled over the car and bawled my eyes out,” she says.

She found herself looking up postpartum depression symptoms online and interacting on mom blogs. But her friends didn’t have kids yet, so she didn’t have much of a real-life support network to lean on. Her yearning for community continued as Enzo, now 4, grew.

“I was a young mom trying to find spaces for him to make friends,” Fisher says. “There wasn’t really a space curated for him as a 2-year-old or even as an infant.”

It all led her to found Social Tykes, a 1,700-square-foot play space and social area for children up to age 6 and their caretakers that will open in Corktown this summer.

The new space will have a tech room (with tablets loaded with apps for older children), a co-working area, and a quiet room, where little ones can rest, in addition to a bright, modern play space. It will also offer limited child care and space for party rentals. 

Fisher says she hopes Social Tykes will help fill what she sees as a lack of indoor play areas for little ones in Detroit. “We need to focus on the kids,” she says.

This is Fisher’s first venture as a small-business owner, and she’s got her hands full: The 27-year-old mom of two also works full time for a logistics management company. “I don’t even know where I find the time,” she says. Her partner, Thomas Pettigrew, has been supportive every step of the way, she says. 

As she developed her plans for Social Tykes, Fisher was mindful of how it would fit with other changes in the neighborhood. She considered offering coffee, she says, but “rumblings” about a coffee shop opening nearby mean that, instead, she’ll let folks carry their caffeine in. She also shifted her plans to offer yoga classes so as not to infringe on a neighboring yoga studio. Instead, there will be hour-long movement classes for kids and their caretakers — moms, dads, aunts, grandparents — to teach them different ways to interact, Fisher says.

To foster community, Fisher hopes to partner with local fitness and activity instructors, as well as experts who could lead sessions on topics such as baby care and first aid. She’s also working on partnerships with local nonprofits to help fund memberships for low-income families.

Community feedback will drive topical monthly events, whether those are parents’ nights or conversations on postpartum depression and other struggles, she says.

“It’s about building relationships,” Fisher says. That’s something that she also prizes for her children. “I really want them to build relationships, too.”

Social Tykes, 1620 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 734-559-4360, Open play passes: $20/day (add $10 per sibling); Memberships: $170/month (add $50 per sibling)