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From its birth as a pop-up yoga speakeasy downstairs at 1 Horatio Street, Love Child has grown up to be a one-of-a-kind model for holistic support from preconception to pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. They are much more than a yoga studio, and they are our January 2019 Business of the Month.
Owned and carefully managed by local resident Neelu Shruti, Love Child has thrived for over three years now. Neelu started out with what was meant to be a downstairs temporary studio where she taught drop-in yoga classes. “When we opened, just as a yoga studio, we found that many expecting or new parents would stay after class to chat with each other. These conversations would sometimes last for 45 minutes or longer, and would even carry over out to the sidewalk in spite of the cold. We care about each other. We all want to know how others are doing, coping, and managing and to share both the excitement and joys but also the challenges of navigating parenthood. From which maternity pants buy to pediatrician recs, advice to help with nausea, pelvic floor and intimacy tips – we’ve seen all the conversations you would and wouldn’t expect! From that observation, our Collective and Prenatal Circles were born. We created a formal but intimate space and class to allow for meaningful conversation and connection. We don’t always get to be pregnant at the same time as our friends, and many of us in NYC live far away from family, so we give you the opportunity to find people to share your journey with and start building your village,” Neelu said.
Now run on a membership model with few if any peers, Love Child, is a collective and supportive space that offers holistic services and information for reproductive health, expecting and new parents, and more. They work with experts in New York City to offer the best resources to help individuals and partners navigate their journey.
Neelu came to the Village “as soon as I could”, over ten years ago. She grew up in India, attended architectural school in Texas and was involved in numerous projects in New York City and beyond, including the David Rubinstein Atrium at Lincoln Center and the World Trade Center Welcome Pavilion. She left that path to create Love Child.
Neelu was drawn to the Village because it is pedestrian friendly, has mixed uses and an often radical history. She says she appreciates that it is a place off the grid and has some greenery around. She and her husband Tom (both GVSHP members), who tends the garden and facilitates some parent groups, love that all around their space you can get croissants, do your printing, or get your kiddie pool blown up at Eschelon Bike Shop, as they do for the backyard children’s events. They also often see parents from Love Child when eating at Tartine.
It is incredible how soothing and tranquil and yet seemingly spacious they have made the modest two-floor space feel. It has four distinct sections, including the front room for meetings and classes, the downstairs studio for yoga and other activities, the treatment room for massage and acupuncture, and of course the backyard — an idyllic green in the spring and summer. All are elegantly decorated. On the shelves they have a lending library as well as hand-made dolls of fabric Neelu imports from her hometown of Hyderabad, along with lavender oil and a poster of a series of yoga poses curated by Neelu and illustrated by Yoga Prints.
Inspired to serve the pre- and post-natal community and parents on that journey, Neelu wanted to offer far more than a Tuesday 4pm yoga class. People can drop in or join and take a class anywhere, but Love Child provides far more than that. Many of the parents that go there are from the neighborhood, Greenwich Village or the East Village, and Chelsea and uptown and Brooklyn. Some work in the neighborhood and attend classes and events and schedule sessions at lunch hour or after work. Some are international, from Argentina to Taiwan and in between. They serve all gender parents, the trans community, and have all gender parent configurations. Neelu said she is glad they have the LGBTQ Center right around the corner.
Besides working closely with parents, they also have strong relationships with caregivers and have a Caregiver Appreciation Day to recognize their important role in growth and upbringing. Parents that have moved away stay in touch with cards and letters, often wishing there was a Love Child in their new neighborhood. They surely fill a void in the birth world and part of their service is an at home visit after birth, something common in European systems of birth, but rare in America. Neelu points out how such a visit reduces incidences of post-partum depression and improves health rates. With new parents, little things can potentially grow into big things, but from lactation counseling to pose recommendations, Love Child is there.
The name Love Child “was not a choice” Neelu says. It couldn’t include the word yoga because they do so much more and it shouldn’t appropriate Indian culture, Neelu shared. The name has an element of free-spiritedness. They have a great relationship with their landlord, which is of course crucial to a successful business in the city these days. And they started out slow, without taking on everything they do with ease now. Neelu notes they have had opportunities for expansion but they are very mindful of the care and service they provide and so far have had great success in attracting a solid team that is smart and of service and believes in the mission.
Now that they have been around for over three years. some parents are coming with their second pregnancy. Helping current and the next generation of Villagers to stay healthy, mindful and in friendship and community is the very best we can ask of our local businesses. That is why Love Child is our January 2019 Business of the Month.
What special small business would you like to see featured next? Just click here to nominate our next one. Thank you! #shoplocalnyc
And here is a handy map of all of our Businesses of the Month: