Shelton-based Giggling Pig opening Milford studio

Photo of Brian Gioiele

MILFORD — Makayla Silva is filling a major community need and some vacant commercial space all at once.

Silva, known for her role as executive director of the city’s Downtown Milford Business Association, has chosen to help fill a storefront while meeting what she calls a desperate need for local children’s programming by opening The Giggling Pig in the heart of the Walnut Beach arts and business district.

“I am so excited to get this open,” Silva said about her decision to open a Giggling Pig — a franchise started by Hannah Perry, who opened the original Giggling Pig on Center Street in Shelton 11 years ago.

This weekend will be busy for Perry as she welcomes two franchises — Silva’s opening in Milford as well as another opening in Seymour. These two new additions join the first franchise Perry sold that opened in Bethel.

“It’s all a dream come true,” Perry said about starting a franchise. “I always had this vision. I just can’t believe it is happening so fast. I know I could make it happen. I am so proud to be able to show my success to my children. If you focus and believe, you can make anything happen.”

Perry, a single mother of two, said she has received several franchise requests, but she takes the selection process quite seriously.

“I really listen when talking to them,” Perry said about prospective franchisees. “When I ask about why they want to start this, if I don’t hear the right words, the right responses, I know that is not the right person.”

Perry said opening a Giggling Pig is about more than a paycheck. It’s about making a difference in the community.

“I want to make an impact on my community. That’s why I do this,” Perry said. “I want to know I made my corner of the world a better place, that my actions left a positive impact. I want my children to see that and be proud.”

Perry said she knew Silva was a perfect choice to start another Giggling Pig.

“She is like me, a young mother, a single mother of two,” Perry said. “She has a love for the arts, a love for her community. You do not have to be a great artist to make this business successful, but you need to have a genuine love for people, for kids. That’s how you make it work, and Makayla can do that.”

A Milford native, Silva is the mother of an 8- and an 11-year-old, so she says she knows all too well the need for children’s programming in the city.

“Growing up as a child who loved art — and couldn’t get enough of it — my parents were always seeking opportunities for me to learn and be exposed to the arts, taking classes from the kitchen tables of some incredible Milford artists,” Silva said.

“Now, as a Milford mother of two,” she added, “I quickly realized a need in the Milford community for arts programming for children. I have known Hannah for 10 years, taking my own children to her Shelton studio and was thrilled to have the opportunity to open a Giggling Pig in Milford.”

Silva said when her children were much younger, the search for quality children’s programs took her to Shelton, where she first met Perry, who was then operating her fledgling Giggling Pig out of 300 square feet of space on Center Street.

The Giggling Pig Shelton has since moved to 472 River Road, and Perry has helped owners like Silva open franchises in Bethel and Seymour, with Silva’s Milford location the newest in what is an ever-growing operation.

“There is a strong need for children’s programming in Milford, and we are trying to fill vacant space, so I talked to Hannah about bringing a Giggling Pig to Milford,” Silva recalled. “It was then she said, that with my background, I should open my own Giggling Pig.”

Silva said at that same time she knew space at 44 Naugatuck Ave., the former longtime home of Artfish42, had just become available.

“It was quite serendipitous,” she said. “Everything came together for me quite quickly.”

Silva said the new business venture combines her love for art, which she studied at Southern Connecticut State University, and children, added together with her most recent role with city’s Economic and Community Development Office as a liaison between the city and business community in town.

“I wanted to do this myself,” she said. “I have an education in the arts, a love for working with children. This brings all my passions together. This was the perfect answer.”

The Giggling Pig Milford will open May 3, with a grand opening celebration planned May 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. Silva said the business will open with a regular program schedule each day, and birthday parties on weekends. She said there will also be special events, such as adult painting parties, coming soon.

The Giggling Pig, Silva says, will offer children’s birthday parties, art lessons, drop-in studio hours, seasonal camps, and adult paint night events as well as “provide a space where creativity and curiosity flourish.”

For more information about classes, camps, workshops, and parties, visit