Mum’s fun career change

Sarah, already a busy working mum opens a super successful imaginative play cafe.

Pakenham mum Sarah Fenton was working part-time in an office when she decided to embark on a new and somewhat noisy adventure – opening an imaginative play cafe.

Although the mum of two had a great work-life balance, she had developed a bit of an obsession with play cafes after noticing how few there were around Melbourne.

“Living in Pakenham, I was driving the kids to Balwyn because there is no closer play cafe,” she explained.

“I started putting together a folder of research, visiting other play cafes in Melbourne and Geelong to look at what they had.

“In September last year, I put the folder away. My husband asked why and I said ‘it’s a bit of fun I’m not going to leave my job!’”.

“It was so different from anything I had done. It was almost a bit of a hobby.”

After being persuaded by her husband Simon to seriously look into opening her own play cafe, Sarah developed an 80-page business plan and began scouting potential locations.

She realised her plans had great potential, and in June this year opened Hopscotch Play Cafe at Narre Warren South.

The imaginative play cafe is aimed at kids aged 1-5 years and features different play areas, each separated by perspex.

While kids play, adults can sit and finish a coffee while still being able to fully supervise their children from their seat.

Making the cafe as family-friendly as possible has been a must for Sarah, who sought a location with ample parking and enough room for a children’s toilet and separate change room.

Already, she’s been overwhelmed by Hopscotch’s success.

“We had a really soft open, and since we’ve been open we’ve been booked out every day,” she said.

Sarah was even recently recognised at a Pakenham park by some mums keen to take their kids to the cafe.

“They asked ‘are you from Hopscotch? We’ve been trying to get in there for ages – it’s like a nightclub in the city!’”

Sarah says she created an online booking system to limit the number of kids allowed inside the cafe because she wanted to avoid a chaotic and unsafe environment.

Although, she admits her workplace is a fair bit crazier than the office where she worked implementing payroll projects for big businesses.

“You could hear a pin drop in the office,” she said.

“Now I’ve got mess and chaos that I go to from home to work!”

Sarah is at the play cafe three days during the week as well as Saturdays when there are parties to host.

Opening a seven-day a week business has been a wild ride and one Sarah says wouldn’t have been possible without the support of her husband.

Their children, William, 3, and Lucy, nearly 2, are pretty impressed.

“William and Lucy think mum’s shop is the best thing ever!” Sarah said.

CLICK HERE to go to Sarah’s website: Hopscotch Play Cafe in Narre Warren South.