In the early days of the pandemic, things moved at lightning speed. One day we had our normal social lives, the next, nothing. Lindsey Murphy, creator and host of The Fab Lab with Crazy Aunt Lindsey (a children’s science show that is also ridiculously fun) was prepping to give the keynote at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. And then the state went into lockdown, and all the schools shuttered.
Murphy sprang into action at once, knowing frazzled parents attempting to work from home would need help. “That's really what the Digital Daycare was about. It was me getting back to my roots,” Murphy says about the daily four-hour sessions she began on March 24 and live-streamed for four weeks. “When I was a babysitter, parents knew that I'd be there, the kids would be safe because we'd have a blast, and they could just go be adults and do what they needed to do.”
Creating 60 hours of totally free content for K-5th graders—featuring things like a balloon blowing itself up by a chemical reaction from vinegar and baking soda, a daily lunchbox series teaching kiddos how to make their snacks, and a glittered birdhouse constructed from popsicle sticks—was an intense endeavor for Murphy and her camera crew to pull off. To adhere to social distancing, they all moved into a temporary studio, lent to them by female-founded Living Room Realty, working on content round the clock
It paid off. Parents around the country appreciated the feat. “Even though my daughter is only three, The Fab Lab holds her attention and sparks her curiosity to create what she’s seeing on TV,” says Bethany O’Hagan, a mom of two who didn’t know about The Fab Lab prior to Digital Daycare. “It’s so nice to be able to feel okay with putting something on the TV for her to watch that is truly educational. Lindsey also creates things that I actually want to make.”
Now that the marathon of filming is over, with the full Digital Daycare streams available on The Fab Lab YouTube page, Murphy is back to work on growing her show, noting it is especially important for kids to see women of color in STEM-related fields when they historically have not. The show is funded by sponsorships (and a viewer Patreon), meaning Murphy has to play the roles of charismatic television host, top-notch producer, and discerning businesswoman.
Six months before the pandemic hit, Murphy and The Fab Lab had won big after meeting Michelle Cardinal, cofounder of Rain the Growth Agency, at a Wildfang community event. Cardinal, a successful agency CEO for decades, was just launching an accelerator called She Scales with the specific goal of helping other small female-founded businesses grow.
“We know all the stats—less than two percent of women get VC funding. I've had so many conversations with women who have these amazing companies and are these amazing pitchers and they can't get funding. And it's because women are different than men. They don't pitch bullshit. They pitch the truth and don't exaggerate—if anything, they understate,” says Cardinal about the impetus for starting She Scales and taking on The Fab Lab as one of their first clients. “So I thought, is there a way we can help women-run businesses? We came up with this idea for She Scales, which is a marketing accelerator, where we basically take on two to four women-founded companies a year, and we give them a ton of services and help them scale.”
In the case of The Fab Lab, Cardinal backed up her mentoring offer by giving Murphy a free studio and workspace inside her Pearl office building and began having talks on how to scale The Fab Lab reach far and wide. And when the time came for Digital Daycare, Cardinal had seen her own team go from 15 remote workers to 240 in a single day, so she stepped up as a fiscal sponsor of the show, essentially underwriting daycare for thousands of children.
“I feel really blessed with my experience bringing it to life and I just I wish that I had savored it more,” says Murphy, looking back on the whirlwind of parent-relieving content she was able to put out in such a short time. “I really am proud of what we were able to make with extremely limited resources and the world melting. The whole thing was truly like a heart piece and I am really grateful for the experience.”