IN THE NEWS

Youth Education + Entertainment = Tickleberry Place!

Imagine a beautiful, sunny place where kids can develop crucial life skills to complement the ABCs & 123s of early childhood education. Fortunately, such a place exists and it’s called Tickleberry Place: an educational, interactive world inspired by the natural beauty of Los Angeles, CA. And, thanks to its Founder and CEO, Lauren McElroy, kids who experience Tickleberry Place will not only be amazed by the animated, fun-filled atmosphere there, but also empowered by learning the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ) and mindfulness. Not to mention, earth sustainability. Furthermore, Tickleberry Place can help children become more present, reflective and confident, according to Lauren—this is essential for developing healthy personal development qualities for early childhood and beyond.

From humble beginnings in 2014, Lauren’s passion continues to be a prolific business entity in 2024, stemming from her roots in SoCal. “So I’m actually a native Los Angelenos. People often say, ‘oh, there’s not many people who are actually from Los Angeles and still live here,’ but I grew up here, primarily in the neighborhood of Leimert Park, an affluent black neighborhood.” Growing up, Lauren attended public schools from K-12 in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, she left California to further her education at the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in informatics, the study of the structure, behavior, and interactions of natural and engineered computational systems. Subsequently, Lauren returned to California, amassing 10-plus years of professional experience in product development/design, customer experience-user experience. “Improving the customer experience is ingrained in me.” Most incredibly, this all led to a pivotal discovery that cultivated her passion for children’s empowerment through education and entertainment, ultimately giving rise to Tickleberry Place.

“I recognized there aren’t a lot of places where parents could take their kids for entertainment and educational enrichment.” Thus, prompting Lauren’s discovery of similar educational opportunities that were available elsewhere, but not SoCal. “In this neighborhood that is often ignored, despite the fact there are a number of families and individuals who can actually pay for these types of services. Instead, they have to venture outside of the community, because it’s not offered here. And, that’s why I decided to pursue creating an educational entertainment experience for kids and their parents.” Unfortunately, challenges ensued with Lauren’s dream involving major disadvantages from a lack of business capital, and, of course, being a Black aspiring entrepreneur in America; however, thanks to BCIF, nothing would stand in the path of Lauren’s destiny.

Lauren’s mission to create happiness and wellness for families by empowering kids and their parents to live healthy lives is a cause that’s destined for greatness. Currently, Tickleberry Place has an animated story and physical book releasing in a few months as well as exciting community-based learning events. However, in the years ahead, she envisions a future where Tickleberry Place will help children deal with trauma through emotional expression. Additionally, she’d like to create a brick-and-mortar location, partner with Amazon and Barnes & Noble to broaden her reach through book deals, and even produce an animated TV series—move over “SpongeBob SquarePants. Lauren also shared that she looks forward to helping other aspiring Black entrepreneurs with helpful knowledge and encouragement—generously speaking, she expressed that if she ever wins the lottery, she wouldn’t race off to purchase a Porsche or BMW, instead she’d establish a Black-owned business fund for entrepreneurs and pay off the debt from developing Tickleberry Place.