Ridgefield business, 2 Blue Hens, hatches storefront offering creative children’s programs

RIDGEFIELD - After building momentum in the community during the height of COVID-19, 2 Blue Hens owners Rosie Voulgaris and Liz Raymond are looking forward to opening a storefront at 80 Grove Street for their creative business this month.

Catering to toddler and elementary school children of all abilities, Voulgaris and Raymond offer a variety of children’s programs through 2 Blue Hens, including a a Pop Art Playgroup, a Preschool Crew, and an Art Club . While the bulk of its services focuses on the younger age groups, 2 Blue Hens also offers family painting sessions and parties.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for 2 Blue Hens’ new storefront at 80 Grove St. will be Sept. 18 at 3 p.m.

Committed to offering multi-sensory experiences, Raymond said she and Voulgaris believe that, for children, all the senses need to be engaged. They said they achieved that by using different kinds of sensory play while incorporating process arts, which is arts where the end product isn’t the main focus.

Children are encouraged to try dry, messy, sculpture and other kinds of sensory play that helps them experience art in a different way, get comfortable with new textures and engages their senses.

“We are not your average art class and we’re super proud of that,” Voulgaris said. “We want to capture the youngest artists’ attention by surprising them, by stretching the boundaries and breaking some rules .We’ve painted rocking chairs; we’ve thrown cotton balls soaked in paint; we’ve sat in 30 pounds of dried colored rice.

“Our classes combine different sensory experiences because we believe sensory play is the most important experience a little artist can have in their day-to-day,” she said, adding sensory play helps regulate emotions, encourage vocabulary and teach problem-solving and collaboration. “We believe in the enjoyment of the process and not the finished product. We want to build a community of open-minded parents and caregivers that see that art is so much more than what you might have pre-programmed in your mind.”

“We’re hoping to give them the opportunity to reemerge as kids who get to engage in play and be messy and learn and have fun at the same time,” Raymond said, “because as they get to that school age, it gets presented less and less naturally.”

The beginning

Voulgaris and Raymond began hosting their sensory play groups two years ago, gathering in small groups in local parks and other outdoor environments to give children and families a creative outlet in a safe environment.

“It’s really interesting that in a time when everything was shutting down, this really thrived because it gave families the chance to establish a sense of community again, and it was a safe setting for those families,” she said.

As 2 Blue Hens gained momentum, Voulgaris said they started talking last spring about opening a storefront in Ridgefield. Before exploring their options, Voulgaris and Raymond were hosting classes at their respective homes in Ridgefield.

Voulgaris said they decided to bring their business indoors to see how 2 Blue Hens would work in an indoor setting with an outdoor component.

Raymond added there was also a large need for families to have a place to go where they could relax and create together.

“I think it’s going to allow for so much creative freedom,” Voulgaris said of their upcoming space. “A lot of the job now has turned to how to store things in the garage, so just to have the ability to have a space to dedicate to this is just amazing. It’s something we’ve definitely looked forward to.”

“It’ll open up a lot of opportunities because more people will get familiar with the space and see our logo and get us out there a little more too,” Raymond said. “It means a lot to be giving the community something so unexpected and gives us the drive to create something for the kids. It also provides such a seamless transition - that we’re such a community of the arts and the youngest kids can access that and start building a community of the arts in the community they’re living in.”