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Made in Idaho: Boise business, Lovevery, building a billion-dollar brand

Posted: 3:41 PM, Nov 16, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-13 22:35:11Z

Time magazine named an Idaho invention one of the best of 2018.  It's a huge accomplishment for a Boise startup that launched its first product for babies twelve months ago.

Lovevery is the brain child of Jessica Rolph. The mother of three knows a thing or two about startups. Over a decade ago, she helped launch Happy Family, an organic baby food company. A few years ago, Rolph sold it for reportedly hundreds of millions. This time around, it's an even more personal venture. “I discovered this doctoral thesis which sounds so crazy, but I read this doctoral thesis on infant brain development that changed everything for me. It was written from the perspective of a parent and what you could do at each stage based on all the science,” says Rolph. She used the play based techniques with her firstborn and wanted to share her new found knowledge. “I was trying to give my friends copies of this doctoral thesis thinking they would just love it. You've got to know this between zero and three the brain is eighty percent developed. And it just fell flat,” says Rolph.

She didn't give up. Eight years later, Lovevery was born, thanks to a partnership with her best friend's husband. Rod Morris is another start up genius who took an energy company public for more than a billion dollars.  A dad of twins, he moved his family from the nation’s capital to Idaho's capital to invest in a mission based business. “I'm really committed to this mission of helping parents connect with their children and raise them in a way that's more intentional,” says Morris.

Lovevery introduced The Play Gym a year ago. This past July the company expanded its line. Time magazine selected Lovevery’s Play Kits as one of 50 groundbreaking inventions for 20-18.  There are six boxes, each designed for a different phase of development during a baby’s first year. The toys are all made from organic, sustainable products. “This is that new version of me giving out that doctoral thesis. It's a little cuter,” jokes Rolph.

Part of the Lovevery business model is to conduct market research in the homes of their customers. 6 On Your Side tagged along as they visited Kim Filipiak and four-month-old Gibson in Southeast Boise. The active baby was totally engaged in the Lovevery Play Gym. “He loves it,” says Filipiak. The Boise mother bought this play gym because its created by child development experts, but she was thrilled to find out Gibson's favorite toys hail from her hometown. “Seeing babies love our stuff and develop is just so exciting,” says Rolph. Lovevery says their Play Gym is already the third top seller on amazon. It retails for $140. The Play Kits sell for around $35 a piece.

The co-founders say their commitment to nurturing families is just as important as building a billion-dollar brand. Lovevery is doing both, one baby at a time.