As told to Lela Nargi
This month, UrbanFamily caught up with online baby registry site Cricket's Circle founder and CEO Rachel Blumenthal and her family in Greenwich Village. Read on to find out what brought them to, and keeps them in, this historic New York neighborhood.
Tell us a little something about who you all are. I’m married to Neil Blumenthal, co-founder of Warby Parker. We have a son, Griffin, who is four years old and attends Avenues, a language immersion school, in Chelsea; and a daughter, Gemma, who was just born in June.The Cricket's Circle team is fortunate to be able to work along the Warby Parker teams at the Warby Parker headquarters in Soho.
Where are you from, originally? I’m from Cape Cod, went to school in Boston, and have been living in NYC for the last 13 years. Growing up on Cape Cod didn’t feel strange or atypical, though in retrospect it probably was. I was kept busy with school and afterschool sports, but there wasn’t the level of competition or pressure you see in urban-centric suburbs. The beauty of that was we were truly able to be kids for much longer than most. And now, we have a pretty special place to visit in the summer. Plus, Cape Cod has hands down the best homemade ice cream shop I’ve still ever been to, Four Seas Ice Cream!
What neighborhood do you and your family live in, and why did you choose it? We live in Greenwich Village in downtown Manhattan. It was our dream neighborhood because it’s rather centrally located yet is quiet and has a true small-neighborhood feel to it. The architecture is old New York, and that adds a level of tradition that I love. Plus, my in-laws live four blocks away, which is a major plus when you need an extra hand!
Being in Greenwich VIllage enables us to be within equal walking distance of Union Square, Soho, and the West Village—all of our favorite places for great restaurants, playgrounds, kids classes, and shopping. The families are low key and there’s a general sense of calm that you don’t get in other parts of the city.
What family time like for you guys? Mornings during the week, before work and school, are family time. We snuggle on the couch watching Miles From Tomorrowland or Fireman Sam (Griffin’s two current favorite shows), or get in a quick Lego building session. Neil always makes breakfast—we alternate between egg and french toast days—and then we’re off for the day.
I make it a point to take Griffin on a date once a week after work. He decides where we are going to go (he typically chooses the bus or subway—“an adventure,” as he likes to call it) and it always involves dessert or an art project.
On the weekends, it’s a lot of walking and playgrounds, and in the summer we drive out to the beach. It’s such a fun and relaxing escape from the city for all of us, and a special place to spend quality time together. We have an open door policy with our friends so everyone either drops by each others’ houses or we all meet up at the beach with the kids. We are big skiers so in the winter, we’re up in Vermont or out west in Utah as much as possible.
Griffin’s favorite [game] is to play fireman. He dresses up in his fireman costume and rides around the apartment on his firetruck. He also really loves music. He’s been taking music classes since he was 6 months old and looks up to the teacher. He requested a red guitar with a strap because his teacher had one. In the last six months, he’s gotten really into Lego. He can build the most incredible structures by following the directions of the booklets in the box. Now I’m trying to teach him how to rebuild the Lego from his imagination versus having to buy a new set every time he finishes one.
I love Pilates, Physique57, hot yoga, and spinning. I’ve been spinning since before it was cool—at least 18 years. Hot yoga entirely calms me and can be a tremendous workout for strengthening. I re-discovered pilates and started Physique when I was first pregnant and attribute my ability to bounce back to both [of them]. These days, it’s been a lot of nothing but I’ll at least try to sneak in Physique twice a week and this fall, I’m determined to get back to hot yoga, which I had to take a break from when I was pregnant, because I miss it so much.
What are some of your favorite family neighborhood spots? Snowdays just moved to the neighborhood, which just makes life so much happier. It’s the best treat: shaved ice cream, of sorts, that’s perfectly fluffy with really fun toppings, and makes for the perfect Instagram moment. Neil and I love sushi, and while it’s not necessarily in the neighborhood, we’re more than happy to go above 14th Street to O Ya, which just opened on 28th Street. It’s incredible and every step of the experience there is special and thoughtful. Griffin and I always get green juices at the “juice guy” outside of Coffee Shop in Union Square, and I dream of having 15 minutes to myself to browse through Bigelow Apothecary for beautifully packaged beauty products.
Warby Parker promotes the idea of giving something back; do you also practice this as a family? It’s important to us to lead through example, and getting your children involved in the philanthropies that you are most passionate about makes giving tangible for them. I have been involved with Baby Buggy for about six years, now. We host an incredible family carnival event every June called the Bedtime Bash at Victoria Gardens in Central Park. My son looks forward to the event every year and for the weeks leading up, we talk about the work the team at Baby Buggy does, who they help, and how and why they help them. We then take it one step further and Griffin asks his friends to purchase diapers (the greatest need of the families Baby Buggy supports) in lieu of birthday presents. We also have a chore chart at home in which Griffin has to accumulate enough stickers to fill his chart to earn a new toy. For every other chore chart Griffin completes, he selects a toy to donate to a child that is not as fortunate as he is. Doing good is certainly part of our family’s DNA!
Photographs by Roy Beeson.