MADE is a paid partnership with Little Lake County.
Welcome to MADE in Lake County! MADE introduces you to the people and stories behind local Lake County businesses. This month we are introducing you to Jennifer “J” Richard. She is the founder and fearless leader of Circus Kazoo. Circus Kazoo empowers children through the circus arts with classes throughout Lake County.
MADE in Lake County: Jennifer Richard of Circus Kazoo
This developmental circus arts program’s mission is to nurture resilience and vibrancy in the community and create a mindful movement culture. Jennifer says that Circus Kazoo has grown out of a passion for bringing a physical art form to youth to develop their self-esteem, sense of belonging, community, and trust. The training includes diverse circus disciplines, but the outcomes are more profound than just skills. A circus troupe shows improved collaboration, creative problem solving, attention, strength, stamina, flexibility, and coordination after only a few weeks together. The training’s ultimate goals are the holistic benefits of social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development for every circus participant. In training, participants explore skills like unicycling, the German Wheel, juggling, tight-wire, acrobatics, stilt-walking, and learn about circus-inspired art.
Tell us about where you’re from, where you and your family live now, and about your community.
For the past nine years, I have been a resident of Grayslake. I share a nest with my husband, Mike, and two kiddos. We also cuddle up with our two dogs and cat regularly. I am a Chicago suburb native but spent some time living in Colorado when the kids were young. We returned to Grayslake to be near immediate family and established friends. The beauty of community won over that of mother nature [Colorado]!
Our family is pretty old-fashioned in our collective pursuits here in town. We can be found paddling around Grayslake, biking to Tastee Freeze, gathering locally grown produce from the Grayslake Farmer’s Market, or throwing neighborhood parties in our backyard. Granted, you may see acrobatics, stilts, and juggling at our parties, but also s’mores, grilling, and badminton.
What is the biggest challenge you face in finding a work life/home life balance?
Finding work/home balance is always a challenge for a working parent. There are never enough hours in a week! I have two athletic children who spend significant time training and competing as a swimmer and gymnast. The balance we create is clear communication between parents, and intentionality about creating a community around our kids, so carpooling can lighten the load for multiple families. Nutrition, sleep, and studies are all areas that we keep juggling too. If any of those balls drop, we go back to basics and build the pattern back up. (I couldn’t resist bringing in a little circus!)
What is the most important thing you want people to know about your business?
We offer a unique pursuit for any Lake County youth, as we are the only developmental circus arts program around. Centered around open, social interaction and imaginative, creative process, this non-competitive group is inherently cooperative. Lake County offers numerous competitive sports to join where rules are set, victory is the goal, and skills set by adults exclude many kids. Circus Kazoo is a mindful movement culture that offers flexibility, pliable goal setting, and self-authorship. Participants can direct the process. There are kids out there who want to move and be active but are not interested in the attack of sports.
Circus Kazoo is currently serving the Grayslake community in the Park District, D46 schools, and in a rented gym of the Prairie Crossing Charter School. There are sampler and apparatus-specific classes for ages 7-adult to explore, play, and learn together. Jennifer’s goal is to grow beyond the patchwork approach of many locations and open a center in Lake County where disciplines and age ranges can get more specific. She envisions tot classes focusing on circus literature and seniors staying fit and young-at-heart in their own troupes. Jennifer dreams that fringe students can find a place to belong and succeed, and wants to bring the benefits of circus arts to everyone in Lake County. The center is on track to launch early this fall. For now, you can visit the website and join a class to begin a new adventure.
Meet other local businesses that are MADE in Lake County!
Disclosure: Circus Kazoo is our featured Business of the Month. This series is part of a paid promotion partnership with Little Lake County. If you are interested in featuring your locally-owned business in our series, please contact the sales team.