As with so many women business owners today, my company started out with a need that could not be met. My second daughter had just been born and I was madly trying to figure out a way to work and be with my children. At the same time, I was touring all the local daycares to find a suitable place for them. None of the childcare centres came close to what I wanted for my daughters, and it was out of this need that Monkey See Monkey Do Childcare and Development Centre was born in 2001.
My goal was to create an environment that would nurture children and help them flourish not only academically, but also physically, emotionally and socially. I wanted a focus on arts where kids could express their creativity, be it in music, drama, yoga, cooking, or even play. And most of all, I wanted a place where parents would be comfortable and confident that their children were being well looked after and stimulated on a daily basis.
The first Monkey See Monkey Do Centre opened in Oakville in July 2001. Having advertised in local papers, hosted open houses at a nearby recreation centre, and using good old word of mouth, the daycare opened at a 75% capacity. From there, I went on to open a second location in 2003 (since sold) and a third in Burlington in 2008. Today, the Monkey See Monkey Do Childcare and Development Centres are thriving and award winning daycares, having won the Outstanding Children’s Program award from the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Ontario and the Halton Resource Connection. We had the distinction of being the first for profit daycare to ever be included in this award category – what a great recognition!
The success of my business did not come without a great deal of work and challenges. Having come from a different career background, I had limited knowledge of the childcare industry and not a lot of resources. Amidst visiting numerous daycare centres in several communities and working my way through the strict regulations and procedures, I was introduced to someone who later became my most valuable resource. She had solid knowledge of the industry and guided me through the stages of how to get the required ministry licensing; one of the biggest obstacles in opening a daycare. If I can give one piece of advice to anyone looking to start their own business, it would be to find a mentor – or several – in the chosen field.
I can truly say I found the work/life balance I so badly wanted. My children were by my side as I ran the daycare centres and I had the joy of watching them, along with so many other children, thriving in the programs and activities that I had envisioned. Today, children continue to thrive in the centres and my schedule now allows me to volunteer my time for community events and initiatives. It is tremendously rewarding to be able to give back to the communities that have been such an integral part of helping me build my business.