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Name: Janine Halloran, LMHC

Business: Encourage Play, LLC

Location: Braintree, Massachusetts, U.S.

Industry: Children’s Goods & Services

Reason for starting? As a licensed counselor, I have worked with children and adolescents for over 15 years. No matter what setting I was in, I encountered children who struggled with social skills and lacked healthy coping strategies. A lot of my work with children and their families was about learning healthy ways to cope, and learning positive ways to interact with others.

When I became a mother, I had a desire to stay home with my kids but I also still wanted to help other children out. My husband has always been my biggest supporter, and he talked to me about starting a business and helping people online. Soon after, Encourage Play LLC was born. The focus of Encourage Play is teaching children social skills through play. As I was working on Encourage Play, I discovered that the most visited posts were always related to coping skills for kids. I recently branched out to have an entire website,, dedicated to helping kids cope with anxiety, stress and anger in healthy ways.

Related: Read about another Children Goods & Services entrepreneur here. 

How do you define success? I think of success in my personal life and my business life as related but distinct. Success as a business woman would be to continue to create products and make resources that people find helpful and useful for themselves, their children or their clients. I want to help children learn to manage dealing with adversity and managing conflict in healthy ways. In this day and age, we need to be raising children who can manage really challenging situations in unique, respectful and healthy ways. Success, for me personally, will be raising children who are resilient, children who can manage change, children who can handle stress and who will persevere.

The work I create, and the writing I do is often times what I wished someone would have told me when I was a child. I was shy and a little anxious. The work I do is influenced greatly by my own experiences. When a kid tells me about feeling shy or anxious, I can truly understand where they are coming from and we can connect through that.

Biggest success: I recently finished The Coping Skills for Kids Workbook. This is an idea I’ve had for several years, and it took me until now to have all the tools to finish it. I am proud of the work. I created all of the graphics myself, and it was a labor of love. It’s gotten rave reviews from colleagues and families I’ve worked with, and people are purchasing it and finding benefits from it. It’s been my best selling product since starting Encourage Play.

What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? One of my biggest challenges is that I don’t have a business background. My husband has an MBA, but I wanted to understand more of the sales and marketing piece of business. So I’ve taken some classes and read some books that have been invaluable to help me understand what I need to do to market my business. I’m always up for a challenge of learning new things, and owning a small business has offered numerous opportunities for me to learn something new every day.

Related: Fanning the Flames of an Industry Hot Spot

Who is your most important role model? I admire so many people in business, but I’m always especially inspired by moms who start a business and take it to a successful level. I once watched Amy Norman (one of the Founders of Little Passports) speak at an event and she explained how she started Little Passports. It was inspiring – she was a single mom of two when she started her company with another mom, and together they’ve grown an incredible business. I’m also a huge Tim Ferriss fan; my husband and I have been inspired to work jobs that allow us to travel after reading The Four Hour Workweek.

In terms of creative ideas and making products for others, I’m inspired by Regina from Anytime she puts out a new course, I can’t wait to hear what she has to say. It’s all about helping others and making people feel supported, which is exactly what I want my business to be for my customers.

Instagram   @janine_encourageplay

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