This is the second interview in a collection of stories that will highlight amazing women taking entrepreneurship, careers or life purpose to the next level. Take a peek at our interview with Food Photographer Kelly Rucker last week and be sure to sign up to get these real stories + resources delivered right to your inbox.
If you’re just discovering this series for the first time, The Bravery Files will showcase a variety of stories from women of all walks of life. This week we’re talking with Liza Wilson, former French language teacher turned entrepreneur. Liza has worked in education for all of her career, until she decided to become her own boss while still expanding the minds of little ones by opening a toy rental business she calls the Toybrary. While you can visit to check out toys just like at the book library, the Toybrary also hosts events almost every day of the week including special programs designed for just moms or just for dads.
The Bravery Files: An Interview with Liza Wilson Founder of the Austin Toybrary
Liza you make playtime exciting again by giving children and parents the opportunity to explore new toys without having to purchase them, tell us a little more about the idea behind the Toybrary and what makes it special?
Well it’s really cost effective and beneficial for families looking to give their children a variety of ways to play. For example if you’re a member and come once a week and check out 3 toys each time, you’re children have seen 12 different toys per month without the high cost of purchasing those toys. It also means less toy to take up space in your home! As a member you can come as often as you like and play with the toys here in the store too, in addition to taking them home.
As a mom I have to ask, how does the sanitation process work?
Every Toybrary Austin toy is carefully prepared for checkout and washed with 100 % green cleaning products. Before they leave the store each toy is examined, cleaned, and disinfected between borrowers. I’m very precautions about germs!
Ok now on to the business and bravery related questions, tell us, what has been your greatest risk? What do YOU think has been your bravest moment?
Well I went skydiving and wasn’t afraid, even though I’m terrified of heights and pretty uncomfortable with flying! But, opening my business was pretty wild too. I never thought I’d be able to write a business plan, but I didn’t even know what that entailed. Having a great mentor through SCORE saved me.
What is SCORE?
SCORE is an organization with chapters all over the country that offer workshops and mentors to small business owners. It’s where I found my mentor and she’s been amazing.
What does Bravery mean to you?
Risk definitely requires bravery! I enjoy taking risks–jumping in after doing my homework, but knowing that I’ll figure the rest out as I go.
Liza what are you really passion about? What makes you wake up every morning?
I love working with kiddos. Especially those in need or from low-income families.
I’m going to be honest, a toy rental business seems pretty new, innovative and almost radical- what motivated you start your business?
I’ve worked in education for the past 20 years, in settings from public school to Montessori to the French education system and also adore my nieces and nephews. Looking back as a teacher I remember would visit the Family Connections resource library and loved it. The first day I visited there, I knew that I would start something similar one day.
I’m sure like other entrepreneurs there are days when you wake up and don’t feel particularly motivated. When that happens, what is your go-to remedy to help you kick it into high gear?
Keep working until you conquer the situation! I also love inldulging on massages and watching movies.
Do you have any special advice for readers who don’t feel as brave?
Be confident in themselves and take risks! Self-talk is really important in this. Telling yourself that you can do it and believing that is key!
Liza, thanks for the insight and sharing with us how you started your business. SCORE looks like an amazing resource for early entrepreneurs! Who ever thought renting would become a new business model? You’ve proven it is and can be done successfully, with a little bit of bravery and risk.
Toybrary Austin was created to provide a positive, clean, welcoming environment in which children, parents, and teachers can interact and learn. Owner Liza Wilson has worked in education for the past 20 years, in settings from public school to Montessori to the French education system. She also spent several years supervising student teachers and first year teachers, as well as working for Head Start. She is a very proud aunt to Jack, Emily, Caroline, and Joe. Toybrary Austin stocks beautiful, high-quality, educational toys for children ages 6 months through 5 years old. Many older children and parents can be found enjoying our more challenging toys and games as well. Our space is divided into sections: a play area for kids, shelves of toys for checkout, and an enclosed room for birthday parties, parenting classes, children’s classes, and other events.
So what exactly is The Bravery Files? It’s a collection of stories told by brave women, just like yourself, on topics ranging from entrepreneurship, life balance, career choices, mamahood and more. Read about The Bravery Files here and nominate a leading lady you might know for an upcoming feature. Yes, you can nominate yourself too- I’d love to meet you and share your story!