Plug and Play
Balancing work and parenting, Amy Braden creates an innovative solution for entrepreneurs and work-from-home moms.
By Amory Casto
At first glance, there is a certain quiet difference about Plug and Play. It slightly protrudes from the other businesses located in the shopping center, and the jovial letters of the sign stand out from the rest. It’s not until you gingerly step into the facility that you notice the sign is quite indicative of the secret inside: a distinctive office-type workspace with day care.
Plug and Play provides the work-from-home or freelance individual an eclectic work environment that is different from the comforts of your home or the local coffee shop.
Due to the on-site child-care option, you never have to feel too far away from your family. Both services can be used together or separately, and memberships are always custom-made to fit the needs of the individual member.
Amy Braden is the visionary woman behind this work-life solution. Leaving an advertising career in Hollywood, she and her husband decided to move to Austin. After the birth of her son and the challenge of balancing work and parenting, Braden began to innovate. In short order, the idea of Plug and Play was put in to practice.
“I never thought I would be an entrepreneur,” Braden comments. “This was a new market and there was nothing like it in Austin.”
Walking through the facility, you feel an underlying energy about the place. The décor is simple, with bold orange and blue accents. The modern furniture design mixes perfectly with equal parts coziness and class.
A tall bar top extends out from the front desk, providing ample space to personalize your workspace. Within close proximity to the front desk, there are seven nooks, some with their own curtain for privacy, two conference rooms and a corner with two plush chairs designed for comfort. A fax machine, shredder and printer rest just a few feet away.
Need a coffee or tea to fully get in to work mode? Conveniently, there is a refreshment station with drinks and snacks just to the right of the entrance, all geared to help refresh a cogitative mind. Behind a secure door, tucked quietly to the left of the front desk, is the child-care center.
The expansive space is divided in to three different age-specific rooms. Plug and Play provides child care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old. During my visit, the newborns were quietly snoozing while the older children were excitedly building towers with blocks. Plug and Play follows the Emilia Reggio style of learning that focuses on the interests unique to each child.
Under this method, the kids learn and interact with each other without being distracted by battery-operated toys. There is always a Letter of the Day, and crafts are centered on a theme like All Around Austin, or Fairytales and Legends. There are also daily installments of yoga, art, Spanish lessons and music. Another added bonus for parents is the essential Parents’ Night Out. Leave the kids with Plug and Play from 5 to 10 p.m., on select Saturdays and they will enjoy a movie or crafts while you enjoy date night.
Braden adds that the best-kept secret of the child-care program is the FLEX Preschool. Each week, parents can pick the same two morning or afternoon sessions for their children.
“It’s perfect for parents who prefer more regularity in their schedule,” Braden explains. As member numbers continue to increase each month, Braden keeps her focus on the future. She sees the potential of Plug and Play as exciting, with “lots of growth and franchise opportunities across the country.”
When you leave Plug and Play at the end of a workday, you feel a sense of completion, as well as closeness with your child. Braden had an innovative idea and turned it in to something tangible. A small poster hangs above a square table in the workspace area that reads, “Be you, be true, do what you love.”
Braden has certainly embraced this saying; it’s evident in her warm smile and honest laughter. Through taking a risk in a new place, Amy Braden was able to find balance for herself and for other entrepreneurial working parents.
13343 N. Hwy. 183, suite 200 512.258.7584, plugandplayaustin.com
Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Call to design your own membership to fit your needs.