Lottie is a family child care provider who opened her own child care business, Krayola Park, this spring after attending All Our Kin’s business series. Now, Lottie cares for infants and toddlers as a participant in All Our Kin’s Early Head Start for Family Child Care program and also takes part in All Our Kin’s Garden Project. Lottie recently sat down in her cheerful child care space to talk about All Our Kin’s impact on her career as an early childhood educator.
Lottie first came into contact with All Our Kin in 2008, after she was hired as the head teacher at a child care program that All Our Kin-affiliated provider Maria Anthony was in the process of opening. After Maria introduced Lottie to All Our Kin, Lottie began attending trainings, monthly meetings, and special programs. “I would just get involved,” Lottie recalls. “I was keeping my hands busy in child care.”
While working in other child care programs, Lottie says she always kept a name in mind for the child care business she one day hoped to start: Krayola Park. Many of Lottie’s goals for her child care program are reflected in the name she chose. “Krayola” because of its connection with rich, vibrant, lively colors, and “Park” because Lottie wants children to have a great time while learning. “I had the name for my business for ten years,” Lottie recollects. “For ten years I carried inside of me the burden of wanting to have a business but not the know-how.”
All Our Kin’s Business Series
In 2012, Lottie attended All Our Kin’s business series. Through the series, she learned how to wear the multiple hats of child care provider, entrepreneur, and business manager. Lottie describes the experience as that of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly (drawing on the theme of All Our Kin’s 2013 Provider Conference). “All Our Kin,” Lottie says, offers “the very nutrients and all the food that the hungry caterpillar needs to go through its change. They are the chrysalis. I wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for All Our Kin.”
Once story time, play time, and clean-up are done, Lottie says she knows the business lady has to come out. All Our Kin’s services have helped Lottie develop systems to attract customers and manage her business records. She has modified All Our Kin’s mock marketing flyers for her own use, and even set up her own website. With help from Julia, a staff member at All Our Kin, Lottie has learned bookkeeping and budget tools that help keep her business on track. Where once her business used to be “just writing in a notebook,” now Lottie proudly notes that all of her data is available in Excel with the click of a button.
Lottie says that the business series did more than just give her recordkeeping tools to run her business—it also gave her financial knowledge to tackle her personal finances. Lottie describes herself as “overzealous” in paying bills and even keeps her personal budget in Excel, now that she knows how to use its tools.
Lottie took All Our Kin’s business series twice before deciding to take the leap and open her own child care program. After she made that decision, Lottie says, “All Our Kin again was a blanket of security to help me feel confident as well as professional” while going through the licensing process.
With help from All Our Kin’s staff, Lottie was licensed in February 2013. The grand opening of Krayola Park was March 4, 2013.
Lottie has continued to take part in All Our Kin’s programs since opening Krayola Park. In August of 2013, she became a participant in All Our Kin’s Early Head Start for Family Child Care program, through which she offers high-quality care to low-income infants and toddlers with All Our Kin’s supervision and support. From her close to two decades of experience in child care, Lottie already had her own “spin, twist, and flavor” on managing parent-child conferences and tracking child development and goals. Early Head Start gave her more tools and resources to offer the children and families in her program, she says, and helped her “make a difference with even younger children.”
She also describes herself as “ecstatic” about participating in All Our Kin’s Garden Project. She used to take children in her program on nature walks and spend time with them in a makeshift “outdoor classroom,” but the garden project has given her another reason to go outside. The garden offers an opportunity to introduce the children in her care to new foods and discuss healthy meals. She says that the children regularly rush indoors with arms full of vegetables like cauliflowers, tomatoes, and green beans, proclaiming that they need to give the vegetables “a bath” in the kitchen sink.
Lottie’s face lights up as she talks about the joy of introducing children in her care to new experiences. This month, Lottie plans to take the children in her program on their first-ever field trip. After weeks of reading books about apples and talking about apples, Lottie will be bringing all the children in her program to a local apple orchard.
In addition to offering children at Krayola Park experiences that help them learn and grow, Lottie also works closely with parents and families. She says that she introduces parents to age-appropriate play, cognitive development, and other topics. “I know I’m a role model for families,” she says, as she explains how she acts out problem solving in front of parents at pick-up and drop-off. Her goal is to “give them the best of me, with their children.”
Lottie feels that the stability of her business helps the families she works with achieve economic security. She says parents are able to get more involved in their jobs because their children are in her program. “They’re able to take major steps in their lives because they know their children are in a safe environment,” Lottie says.
Despite the hard work required to run her own business, Lottie is embracing the freedom that comes with entrepreneurship. “Leaving my job was probably the best thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she states. “I am the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.”