Rachel Neil Figgy Play
Rachel Neill, founder of Figgy Play. (Credit: Courtesy of Figgy Play)

The concept for Rachel Neill’s company, Figgy Play, was born during the pandemic, as many new businesses were. A mother of six, Neill felt overwhelmed by the daunting task of trying to entertain her children – and keep them off of their screens – while working from home. She knew the right product would have to spark her children’s imaginations, yet still allow them to play safely. Thus, Figgy Play was created. Her company sells modular couch cushions that let children build the forts and obstacle courses of their dreams – or just comfortably relax and read. Today, the Madison, Wisconsin, entrepreneur reflects on her journey with pride – going from being a young mother without family support, to working her way through school while raising her first child, to becoming  the owner of her own company. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

While there are dozens of modular cushion sets and kid-play couches on the market, I set out to introduce something new, safe and more efficient. Today, Figgy is being recognized for its therapeutic and physical therapy benefits. And, we are the only play couch on the market with patent-pending Velcro connectors that make sure the wildest ideas stick.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

In our first year, we reached over $1 million in sales – and we continue to grow!

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

We did not realize that the costs of shipping and materials were subject to change so drastically when we started. When material prices went up, shipping was delayed, and we found ourselves not being able to fill the orders we had. Since then, we have taken more careful note of market trends, and worked hard to anticipate any changes that may come.

Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?

My journey started as a pregnant teen with no support. I had to grow up fast – and find a way to support myself while raising a child. I learned that if I wanted to find success, it was solely up to me to make it happen. I did everything I could to juggle school, work, and taking care of my son – even bringing him to work with me each day.

I continued pushing, putting myself through college and eventually working my way up as an executive. I gained foundational knowledge for how the start-up space works – and yes I caught the entrepreneurial bug! Today, I am a mom of six, a serial entrepreneur, CEO and founder of Figgy Play (as well as CEO of staffing company Carex Consulting Group).

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

You’ve got to be open to taking calculated risks. To be successful, you have to be comfortable getting outside of your comfort zone. It isn’t always easy, and you will make mistakes, but you can’t let that stop you. Learn from them and continue to move forward.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

My family, and husband, are the best support system I could ever have.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

Pop music from the early 2000’s. Pink is great!

Who is your most important role model?

Other brilliant and strong women in business, such as female CEOs and fierce leaders in their fields. ◼

Facebook: @FiggyPlay

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