Monday, November 14, 2011

Awesome Louisvillager: Stephanie White

It's been a long time since I last featured an Awesome Louisvillager on the blog. But lately it seems like the more challenging certain aspects of my life become, the more the people in my life seem to matter. So, what better way to celebrate the good people of Louisville than by resurrecting the Awesome Louisvillager feature?

Our first Awesome Louisvillager, though, is someone I've never met! Who runs a website that doesn't really even benefit me! But she's pretty awesome nonetheless. Stephanie White runs the Louisville Family Fun website, and if you're a Louisvillager and a parent or grandparent, you should know about this site. Louisville Family Fun features discounts, contests, events calendars, and coupons all aimed at folks with kiddos.  

Meet our seventh Awesome Louisvillager: Stephanie White!

1) How did the idea for Louisville Family Fun come about? Did you always see it as a business, or did you start hunting down deals for local families for fun? 

Louisville Family Fun was born a simple blog for detailing events thought up by myself and another mom at a play date, of course.  She mentioned sharing a google calendar online for all of the events in Louisville for families, and I was interested in the blog aspect.  It was born a blog, not a business.  After traffic started to explode on the website from word of mouth, social networking, google and such, I was approached by a business about advertising.  Then, I made the decision to let Louisville Family Fun morph into a business in order to fund the machine it had become.  There is such a demand for the information, looking at it as a business helped to organize it and support it financially.  However, I stay true to my mission of finding great events for families, deals for things they need or want and informing them about anything that I feel pertain to their family lives.  To me, it still remains a ton of fun and since I have a team of writers now and someone to handle the events calendar, it's even more exciting to have people involved in the mission.

2) Social media in Louisville is a pretty vibrant "scene." I recently gave a talk at the Louisville Public Library about how social media, specifically blogging and tweeting, literally changed my life. How do you use social media in your business? How do you use it personally?

Social media is my business!  The Louisville Family Fun site is closely incorporated with Facebook and Twitter and a little bit on YouTube.  I can't be everywhere, but I try!  Social media and networking is the new wave in gathering and sending information and for my readers and business clients, it's a must in blogging.  Usually, all advertisers get some extra plugs on social media sites and they love that.  Because of social media, we provide such a cost-effective way for businesses to advertise.   I also use these sites to reach out to potential clients.  On the flip side, readers get alerts to new posts, events, deals or photos/videos of what there is to do around town.  Personally, I use social media to connect with my family and friends since I do not live close to them.  I grew up in suburban New York City and I love that sites like Facebook have reconnected me with my cousins and old friends and I can see pictures of my family nearly daily.  We also video chat through Facebook, it's convenient.

3) Why is Louisville a great place to raise a family? What are some things that are unique to Louisville that make this city kid- and parent-friendly?

I am from NY. I grew up having New York City in my back pocket.  I met my husband in college and he grew up in Kentucky.  All throughout our relationship, I knew we would eventually live in what I affectionately call "The Home Land" for him.  I was nervous because I liked living in states that touch water.  No, not the Ohio River, oceans! I like oceans!  So, when he took a job here and we moved from NC, I was a little nervous but within a month, I was sold. 

Louisville is easy to navigate with kids.  Everything is accessible and cost friendly.  There are so many options for physical activities as well as educational ones and all at different price points, including a lot of free options.  I find that in Louisville, businesses, whether they cater directly to families or not, care about kids and that makes people want to go out to festivals, participate in events and support local businesses. I see a nice cycle going on in Louisville that I have not seen in other cities that I have lived in.

What makes Louisville unique are the libraries and the parks.  The Louisville Free Public Library branches have fantastic programming for every age.  When I moved here, I did a tour of library story times.  Literally, a family can attend a different one each day and never repeat location for weeks.  At each location, the experience will be wonderfully different and the people, warm and inviting.   Also, the libraries themselves are so nicely maintained and they host special events like festivals, wonderful summer reading programs and things like scavenger hunts. I could go on!  And, the parks.  This is another venture I have taken on. I want to visit all of the Louisville Metro parks to let families learn more about them and inspire them to hit a new park next time they want a day out; forget about indoor video games or a movie.  From the quaint parks like Tyler Park to the huge ones like Cherokee or Iroquois, Louisville is most impressive when it comes to the park system.

4) Between raising two pre-school-aged kids and running Louisville Family Fun, you probably spend more time than most people in the "parent zone." When you want to have a decidedly grown-up night or afternoon out, what are some of your favorite things to do in Louisville?

I have always been involved with kids. I am a geeky math teacher at heart and by trade, so the parenting and teaching through Louisville Family Fun come naturally.  But, I am human and from time to time, I need and deserve a break.  I actually just wrote a little article that was in Today's Family Magazine this past issue encouraging parents to stop making excuses and go out, yes, *gasp* without their kids!  With my friends, I really have fun at Sips n Strokes.  We go and let loose on the canvas, laugh a lot and enjoy some good food and beverages.  I also like checking out all of the local coffee shops and have come to like Vint a lot so we will go there, share some wine or coffee and great conversation.  With my husband, our best night out on the town was a ridiculously awesome meal at Jeff Ruby's.  That is by far the place for us; I just love the decor and the food was incredible.  But, for a more casual outing, we love sports and have taken in a Bats game, and the FAT Friday Hop is fun for a more budget friendly date night.  We did that and got a bite to eat, walked around Mellwood Arts, did some people watching and got dessert.  Simple, good fun!  Also, I am just waiting for the perfect act to be booked at the Louisville Palace so I can get tickets and take him. That venue is beautiful and I don't know who that perfect act is yet, but I am waiting. 

5) What's the future for Louisville Family Fun?

Louisville Family Fun will continue to write informative reviews for families and maintain the densely detailed calendar.  That's the main priority.  Hopefully, we will continue to grow and I can keep contracting writers in order to diversify the perspective.  We will also secure more awesome prizes because people just love a good competition and the opportunity to win something fantastic.  I would love to increase the charitable aspect of the business and explore more ways to give back to local groups in need.    I also want to take the Louisville Family Fun Pass and instead of having one to cover all of Louisville, split it to create a few area specific cards.  Finally, I hope to secure some really strong sponsors in order to fund all of these endeavors.  Wow, that makes me tired just thinking about it!

Thanks to Stephanie for answering my questions. Previous Awesome Louisvillagers have included: Gabe Bullard, Michelle Jones, Brigid Kaelin, and the Fairdale Bigfoot. Check out those and other Awesome Louisvillagers here. More to come!