Heather Flett and Whitney Moss are Berkeley moms who like to get out of the house. And they figure other moms, dads, babysitters, nannies, guardians, and grandparents do, too.
And so, these 45-year-old women—friends who met after college through their then-boyfriends—are the masterminds behind 510Families, an online destination for activities that are affordable, fun, and family-friendly in the East Bay. There are similar sites, including Berkeley Parents Network, Red Triangle, and FunCheapSF, even Parents' Press, but Flett and Moss say their product stands out because it is more comprehensive, focused on the 510 area code, and includes rich editorial content.
Their standout feature is their monthly calendar. On any given day, there are a host of activities to attend, from toddler yoga to free tours at UC Berkeley's botanical gardens.
"Our goal is to answer that ques-tion, 'What should I do on a Tuesday?'" Moss said. "Every mom thinks, 'Hey, I should put this kind of list together.' It's just that we did it. "
"Our goal is to be insanely helpful," Flett added.
The two put their vision into reality in 2010, and today, boast 175,000 page views a month on their website and 7,500 recipients who get their weekly newsletter. They say their business is profitable and they each work about 30 hours a week, culling resources and writing content for the site, as Carol Burton, helps them with ad sales and sponsorships.
Marlies Edelsberg of Oakland, who has two young daughters, uses 510Families often.
"It's a really good resource," she said. "I use them to find family-friendly restaurants, pumpkin patches, and Christmas activities."
At this point, Flett and Moss, who have three and two children respectively, have been immersed in East Bay activities for so long, they innately have their finger on the pulse of the events happening in the community.
But they always solicit tips and are regularly on the lookout for something new and fun to do. Their criteria are pretty simple. Is it an activity that you would rush out to tell your best friend about? And was it worth the drive and the price? If the answer is yes to all of the above, it's likely to go on their calendar. They try to stick to activities happening in the East Bay, but the event will probably make it to the calendar if they feel it's worth the trip.
If something isn't any fun at all? They're likely not to mention it. "We don't want to trash anything," Moss said. "We'll just decide not to cover it."
In the case of her children who tend to like to touch things, Flett will also make sure to note her writeup if the event is something like a crafts fair where there are a lot of delicate items on hand and parents will need to watch their children extra carefully.
Over the years, they've discovered hidden jewels like the Kindergym at Temple Beth Abraham in Oakland, which offers LGBTQ and interfaith days; the $1 days at the Golden Gate Fields racetrack in Albany; and what 510 Families wrote is the "best idea ever": Strawberry Creek Park, a playground with coffee, in Berkeley.
The worst things the pair has encountered: When their favorite businesses go out of business and when there's a mistake on the calendar, where the date gets entered wrong or the promoter has canceled and didn't let them know, and a parent shows up with no one there and nothing to do.
Flett grew up near Cleveland, majored in industrial engineering, and was raised on Wonder Bread, Twinkies, and other things that she said she would never let her Berkeley-bred children touch.
Moss is originally from West Los Angeles, studied sociology, and worked at LeapFrog as a marketing manager for many years.
Both are married and authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.
When they paired up as business partners eight years ago, they had no idea their resource guide would take off as it did.
"We've connected thousands of parents with hundreds of resources," Moss said.
And even if a new parent doesn't use their guide, Flett said it's important, especially with a baby, for moms and dads to connect with others going through similar situations.
"Join a mom's group," she said. "And make sure to get out of the house every day. Even if it's just to do one thing."
For more information, check out www.510Families.com
Friends Heather Flett, left, and Whitney Moss founded 510Families, now a popular online family resource, in 2010. Photo by Megan Small Photography.