Family Portrait: Make Meaning's Daniel Nissanoff and his family

The founder of Make Meaning chats about the inspiration behind his craft hub as well as his family's favorite city destinations.

 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonThe Nissanoffs: Daniel, Amy, Asher and Phoebe
 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonThe Nissanoffs: Daniel, Amy, Asher and Phoebe
 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonThe Nissanoffs: Asher and Phoebe
 (Photograph: Robyn Lee)
Photograph: Robyn Lee16 Handles
Yankee Stadium
 (Photograph: Courtesy The Ride)
Photograph: Courtesy The RideThe Ride
 (Photograph: Courtesy NY Waterway)
Photograph: Courtesy NY WaterwayEast River Ferry
 (Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson)
Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonJane's Carousel
 (Photograph: Donald Yip)
Photograph: Donald YipDewey's Candy
Carl Schurz Park
 (Photograph: Richard Cadan)
Photograph: Richard CadanToys 'R' Us in Times Square
By Lindsey Thomas |

Entrepreneur Daniel Nissanoff had just founded an online luxury-goods marketplace,, when he started looking closer to home for inspiration for his next business venture. The Upper East Side dad had always loved putting together model airplanes, and his two young kids shared his love for crafts. Make Meaning, one of the city's premiere crafting destinations, was born when Nissanoff realized he could start a company that brought other families together around the same hands-on projects that his brood—Asher, 7, Phoebe, 6, and wife Amy—enjoyed.
The all-ages DIY crafting concept has taken off since Nissanoff opened the first Make Meaning on the Upper West Side in 2010. Now, there's another Make Meaning on the Upper East Side, in addition to locations in Massachusetts, Arizona and California, with other spots currently in the works. "I can't walk down the street now without someone saying, 'See that guy? He's the Make Meaning guy.' All of a sudden I'm like the Pied Piper or Willy Wonka," Nissanoff jokes. "I'm in the business of making people happy."
Families who visit Make Meaning can focus on one of seven crafts: paper, jewelry, ceramics, glass, soap, candles or cake. The Nissanoff family is particularly fond of the spot's soap-making station: "The outcome is always really cool," explains Nissanoff. "There are pre-colored and pre-formed shapes that the kids can add toys and glitter to." The Nissanoffs have even hosted their children's birthday parties at the store: "Phoebe had a giant Hello Kitty party with soap making and Asher had a party where they made Yankees-themed candles."


"I used to be a big Pinkberry nut, but then 16 Handles opened and the kids loved the interactive component. We tend to find ourselves there a lot because it's right next door."

"There's nothing like Yankee Stadium. I didn't grow up in a sports family, but the kids love going to games. I've been taking Asher since he was 4 or 5 years old. It's a real family bonding place, and we always have fun on the subway ride up."

"The Ride is like a Broadway show on a tour bus, with stage seating. All the acting takes place on the street."

"We take the East River Ferry down to Dumbo and it's like going to a completely different world. The kids love Jane's Carousel and Dewey's Candy."

"Carl Schurz Park is a fun place, filled with lots of neighborhood kids and pickup soccer and baseball games. Asher skateboards there and Phoebe rides her scooter. They love running around, playing on the monkey bars and watching adults play street hockey. There's also a great promenade."

"When the kids were a little younger, we'd spend hours at the Toys "R" Us in Times Square. You can really make a day out of it. Times Square itself is also such an amazing place for kids."