The Bartels: Their journey to creating family-friendly products as a business

There is a quote about working hard in silence and letting your successes be your noise. Well, Angel and Nick Bartels have been silent for a while, and now it is about to get loud. This get-involved couple is more known for being the duo behind the resurgence of Wheaton Nurseries as the place to go. But little did we all know, they already had a small business, called Playco, that was starting to blow up in its own right. Let me introduce Angel and Nick and their story.
Angel grew up locally in Winfield. She attended Wheaton Academy and the College of DuPage. Angel spent her childhood years on dance team, playing basketball, driving go-karts, and riding quads and snowmobiles. Nick was born and raised in Southern California. He grew up at his family’s Harley Davidson dealership, riding motorcycles and driving race cars. They met in California while Angel was visiting family in Orange County, and the rest is history! Angel moved to California for the following nine years, where they eventually got married, bought a house, and had their first son, Hudson.  
With the amazing family lifestyle that is built heavily into Chicago's Western Suburban culture, we decided it was the best move for our family to move back to Angel’s hometown, just in time to have our second son, Hayden. In 2018, Angel was able to join her family at Wheaton Nurseries. The Lederman family has been servicing the Chicago Suburbs since 1895! Angel has been working diligently to bring her own twist to the nursery, adding monthly themed “Maker Market” events, creating a new house plant shop and bringing their landscape designs to a new level.     
  1. What ignited the idea to start Playco? The original intent of starting Playco was to learn how to build a brand and business from the ground up. We had both spent an abundance of time helping run our family’s businesses, but we felt a whole new level of learning could come from this venture. Our original products were “adventure-related” toys for kids, like walkie-talkies, binoculars and Kids' Adventure Kits. While these were great (and some are still for sale), we didn't feel that we were bringing anything different or unique to the market. Having two young children, we stumbled upon the idea of Reward Charts. By using positive reinforcement, we know we can build good habits in a great way for our kids. We also knew with this product that we could add our own spin to bring something “new” to the marketplace. Our first chart is geared towards younger kids, using animals for characters and concepts and big yellow stars for excitement. (I think the kids are more excited to put the stars on the board than winning the actual prize at the end of the week!) Our newest chart is geared towards families with multiple kids, leaving a great platform for up to three children to use the same board. This chart creates healthy competition among siblings and promotes teamwork. For the future of Playco, we plan on staying in the young children learning space, creating new ways for kiddos to learn life lessons and habits using positive reinforcement. Our favorite aspect of running this business is the ability to watch our products help grow our children in so many ways, not just because we love our children but because we know the same thing is happening with each and every family that uses our Reward Charts.  
  2. Tell us about your other businesses and passions. Angel works full-time managing Wheaton Nurseries, and Nick is the General Manager at Bartels Harley Davidson. In our spare time, we like to take the family on camping trips, go on hikes and just spend time with friends and family in some way, shape or form. 
  3. What is it like working and living in the community? We enjoy every part of working and living in this community. It is truly built for families. Local family events, friendly neighbors and holiday celebrations really give off a special vibe. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind, and this community reminds us of some of the more important things in life.  
  4. What is something important to us that we would like to share? The best tool for raising children is modeling the way. We are constantly trying to think of new and fun ways to teach valuable life lessons to our kids, but when you stand back and look at the big picture, it is so much more effective to “show" them the way instead of "tell" them the way. Concepts such as being grateful, compassionate, generous, etc., we can all agree with, and at the same time, most of us are guilty of not acting in alignment at times … human nature is about progress, not perfection. What a great way to teach your child; by letting them know you are learning with them and that you will always be learning throughout life.  
  5. One more thing they might like to know: While we are not psychologists or consider ourselves “trained experts” in the field of parenting, we believe heavily in “learn by doing” and “trial and error.” We would like to welcome all communication to discuss what’s been working and what hasn’t. We can learn a lot more together than on our own.  
Angel and Nick make the community better not only by the type of products they create for families but for their overall belief that by working together to support other small businesses, community is created. Grateful to have these two back in the Midwest. Please check out Playco on Amazon and stop by Wheaton Nurseries and show some love to all the local businesses that they support.  
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