Run it Like a Girl

Run it like a girl with Kristina Schwartz, Season 2, Episode 4

October 21, 2019
Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Kristina Schwartz, Season 2, Episode 4
Chapters
Run it Like a Girl
Run it like a girl with Kristina Schwartz, Season 2, Episode 4
Oct 21, 2019
Kristina Schwartz, Owner Little Lambs Home Daycare
Kristina Schwartz had a five year plan. Become a child care licensor and close her own home daycare to focus on her business. 2 years later she has realized her plan and now oversees over 20 daycare providers.
Show Notes Transcript

Kristina Schwartz started out working with at-risk youth, working the midnight shift so she could spend time at home with her young daughter. When the mental and physical toll became too great, Kristina set in motion, a plan that would allow her to spend time with family, and make a living.  Kristina opened a daycare out of her home. 

After the passing of her grandmother, Kristina realized that she was meant to do more. She formulated a five-year plan to become a daycare licensor and close her own daycare to focus on overseeing others using the philosophy of childcare that she believes in. 

Two years later Kristina has closed her doors and now oversees more than 20 home daycares. Kristina has had mentors along the way, people to help guide her through the paperwork and red tape of being a daycare licensor, but she says, mentorship has always started with her grandmother.

On this episode of Run it Like a Girl, Kristina explains why she isn’t interested in expanding, for the time being,   and she warns potential business owners that work/life balance can be thrown into disarray when first starting out.

Links: Little Lambs Home Daycare: https://www.littlelambshdc.com/




Brian:
0:00
Kristina Schwartz started out working with at risk youth, working the midnight shift so she could spend time at home with her young daughter. When the mental and physical toll became too great, Kristina set in motion a plan that would allow her to spend time with family and make the living. Kristina opened a daycare out of her home.
Kristina:
0:21
So I did that for five years straight. And then, actually my grandmother passed away. So then when my grandmother passed away, it was kind of like this kick in the pants to say this isn't all that you're meant to do. You need to be doing more. So that's when I looked into becoming a licensed childcare provider myself so that I could access professional development and be able to help people that have required childcare subsidy. But when I looked at who was offering licensed childcare in our area, I didn't really like their models. I didn't think that they fit someone that had experience, that knew the business background of it. So then I contacted the Ministry of Education and then from that point I decided to license as an agency myself. So rather than running my own home daycare, I would then license other people's home daycares and give them kind of a model that I thought would work best.
Brian:
1:13
But Kristina's five year business plan quickly went out the window.
Kristina:
1:17
It was a five year plan because I still have my own kids within my own home. So it was a five year plan to kind of grow the business to age all of my own daycare children into school and then just take over the agency full time. And unfortunately I can't just age my kids out anymore, we just got too busy. So within two years we've maxed our license. So our license with a ministry of education is for 25 homes and we've done that. So essentially right now I'm working two full time jobs because I have my home childcare program, but then I also have 25 homes that I'm overseeing. So it was just working all the time. So finding that work life balance has been a little bit tricky. Soinstead of a five year plan, it's become a two year plan. So we're just closing the home daycare at the end of this summer. And so I can focus just on the business
Brian:
2:02
Kristina has had mentors along the way, people to help guide her through the paperwork and red tape of being a daycare licenser. But she says mentorship has always come back to her grandmother.
Kristina:
2:14
She was a very, very strong female role model. And so when she was growing up, it wasn't really common that girls even finished high school. And that was one of my great grandmother's big things is that her girls were going to finish school, her girls were going to have an education, her girls were going to go into the workforce and make a difference. And it didn't matter what they did in the workforce, it didn't have to be entrepreneurial position or anything, but they just had to have a voice. And so I kind of was raised with that. I come from a family of strong women. So when you have that mentorship behind you, you don't necessarily need to go out and look for it elsewhere
Brian:
2:50
on this episode of Run it Like a Girl, Kristina explains why she isn't interested for the time being in expanding the number of daycare spaces that she oversees and she warns potential business owners that work life balance can be thrown into disarray when first starting. But she says it will settle down, and she stresses the importance of keeping your family in the loop about your business plans. Kristina Schwartz on this episode of Run it Like a Girl.
Bonnie:
3:23
So today we're recording out of our home studio and I'm delighted to have Kristina Schwartz with me for an episode of Run it Like a Girl. Kristina, thank you so much for joining me.
Kristina:
3:33
Thank you for having me.
Bonnie/Kristina:
3:34
You know, Kriistina and I are both hockey moms. That's how we met in their arenas where we spendmany an hour, every weekend with lots of blankets with lots of hockey. Yeah. Maybe some Bailey's not saying yes or no to that. But, we got talking about what you do and the podcast. And I I just think it's so awesome what you've been doing over the last few years that I had to have you on for an episode. I'm so really thrilled. We'll just start...why don't we talk about what you've been doing the last few years, you're a home care provider, and you had a plan, and you're working on your plan. Yeah. so maybe talk about that and your career path to where you are today.
Kristina:
4:24
Okay, so how far back do we want to go in a career path?
Bonnie:
4:27
Home care is not your first career. So maybe what you were doing first, how you made the decision to switch into home care and then now what you've started doing.
Kristina:
4:41
Okay, sure. Absolutely. I was working with at risk youth before, so I had spent four years working midnights so that it could be hold on during the day with my daughter. And that took a huge mental and physical toll. So then when we had our son, the choice to go back to work was kind of an easy one. So I decided that at that point that I would just stay home and that I would run a daycare.
Kristina:
5:02
And as well my husband's career was kind of taking off. So then me being home allowed him to work the long hours, do the traveling and everything else so that he could succeed. And so, I kinda just fell in love with it. It was at my home. I got to raise my own children and I got to make an impact on other people's kids as well and help other families with affordable childcare.
Bonnie:
5:25
That's awesome. And also kind of a bit of a risk, right? Youhad a job that you could have gone back to full time, got your weekly paycheck, but you made the decision. to leave So how did you start that when you started home daycare? How did you get clients?
Kristina:
5:44
Okay. Well, honestly Facebook was still a thing back then, so it was a few years ago, but Facebook was really big.
Kristina:
5:50
So the first thing I did was I created a business Facebook page. I shared it with all of my friends and just through organic marketing, I filled my daycare spaces. So that's kinda of how the daycare took off. So I did that for five years straight. So then when my grandmother passed away, it was like this kick in the pants, this isn't all that you're meant to do. You needed to be doing more. So that's when I looked into becoming a licensed childcare provider myself so that I could access professional development and be able to help people that have required subsidies. But when I looked at who was offering licensed child care in our area, I didn't really like their models. I didn't think that they fit someone that had experience, that knew the business background of it.
Kristina:
6:38
So then I contacted the Ministry of Education and then from that point I decided to license as an agency myself. So rather than running my own home daycare, I would then license other people's home daycares and give them a model that I thought would work best, with my, my core values and how I see the business side of it. So I remember when, I guess it's been a couple of years now, it's amazing how fast the kids grow, isn't it?
Bonnie:
7:09
So what I think is remarkable, is you had a plan, you had a goal and now here we are two years later and you've actually achieved your goal.
Kristina:
7:26
Oh yeah, it was a five year plan. So it was a five year plan because I still have my own kids within my own home. So it was a five year plan to grow the business, to age all of my own daycare children into school and then just take over the agency full time. And unfortunately I can't just age my kids out anymore. We just got too busy. So within two years we've maxed our license. So our licensewith the Ministry of Education is for 25 homes and we've done that. So essentially right now I'm working two full time jobs because I have my home childcare program, but then I also have 25 homes that I'm overseeing. So I was just working all the time. So finding that work life balance has been a little bit tricky. So instead of a five year plan, it's become a two year plan.
Kristina:
8:09
So we're just closing the home daycare at the end of this summer. And then I can focus just on the agency.
Bonnie:
8:14
So you're now a full time licenser. Yeah, that's, that's pretty remarkable. I'd like to talk about leadership. So now you went from running your own business, being your own boss, to now you have 25 home daycares that are under your licensing, that you have to make sure are doing things properly. How has that transition been to to overseeing other people tell us about your leadership style?
Kristina:
8:44
It's been a huge learning curve. Huge learning curve. Especially with some of my home childcare providers, they started as a peer relationship first, right? So they're in my community, they're peers and now I'm kind of their boss essentially. And that was a weird transition to make. And so ensuring that I respect their personal space.
Bonnie:
9:14
So how do you do that?
Kristina:
9:16
Yeah, so my biggest thing with those particular individuals is I have a staff members, so my staff members member is our registered early childhood educator and she's a home visitor. So with those people, she's the one that goes and visits their homes. So she's the one that's acting as the supervisor role. If there's ever anything that needs to be addressed where it comes up to me, then I have to deal with it.
Kristina:
9:44
But for the most part I try to just keep that relationship completely with that person. And that's made a huge difference with the rest of the agency. So it's a lot of the home visitor doing the one on one interactions and then I'm more, well, I pay them. I do all the billing and administrative part of the business , and I try to leave a lot of the home visiting up to the home visitor and that's her role. But I do like having that one to one relationship with providers as well. For sure.
Bonnie:
10:16
So you talked there about the business aspects. So how did you learn how to run a business? How did you figure that out?
Kristina:
10:26
Well, I have QuickBooks that's a plug. They can pay me back for my service right now. I use QuickBooks and a lot of it was just on the go. So having a good relationship with my financial advisor as well as the bank and asking them questions. My accountant is actually my sister in laws brother-in-law, which seems kind of far removed, but we see each other all the time. So having that person, being someone that's also kind of on a peer level, I can ask some questions that I might be embarrassed to ask someone else.Then really it's just trial and error and a lot of it is not a hard thing to be able to understand. The biggest is the relationship with the County.
Kristina:
11:13
So that was a big kind of learning curve as well. But the ladies that work at the County for accessing the childcare subsidy and the grants, they've been really, really nice. And um, a lady, she's actually retired now, but she kinda acted a little bit as a mentor to me when I first started and she kinda took me under her wing and helped me out with the County part of it. T.
Bonnie:
11:33
hat's awesome. Talking about mentorship then, so you mentioned her as a mentor. Have there been other people that played a role in deciding that you wanted to do this? Who are the people that you look up to, or get inspiration from?
Kristina:
11:50
Mentorship can come in a lot of different ways, so it can be a physical person. It can be items from a podcast. I like a couple of different podcasts that I listen to, so they're not somebody that I can call up and ask particular questions to you, but I can listen to their podcasts... Oh, this is what they're doing or this is their suggestions. And it's actually been really, really useful mentorship though. I'd probably play it back to my grandma, so she's no longer with us, but she was a very, very strong female role model. And so when she was growing up, it wasn't really common that girls even finished high school. And that was one of my great grandmother's big things, is that her girls were going to finish school, her girls were going to have an education, her girls, we're going to go into the workforce and make a difference.
Kristina:
12:37
And it didn't matter what they did in the workforce, it didn't have to be an entrepreneurial position or anything, but they just had a voice. And so I kind of was raised with that. So I'm with, I come from a family of strong women. So when you have that mentorship behind you, you don't necessarily need to go out and look for it elsewhere. And then was for me always what I've found with mentors that I've had is those connections the organic connections, right? That help you, the people that you look up to every day in your situations.
Bonnie:
13:07
I think that's amazing that you had that with your grandmother and that you're part of a strong, strong female family. So I think that you're in a good position to answer this question.
Bonnie:
13:23
There are many people out there, maybe they're not in the profession that they actually want to be in, or maybe they're thinking of a change that they want to expand their business or, they want to do something else. What kind of advice would you give to someone that wants to try something new or wants to change things in their life?
Kristina:
13:39
So if you wake up thinking about it and you go to sleep thinking about it, you need to do it . First. you have to have a drive and a passion to be taking that next step, and then it's not an easy road so you can't go into it and assume that it's going to be easy and that everything is going to fall in place even two years later. It looks like everything fell into place but I work a lot.
Kristina:
14:01
So for two years when you start a business, you don't have a work life balance and as much as we need to have a work life balance, you need to understand that for a couple of years you need to talk to your partner, you need to be on the same page and you need to understand that you are going to have to work a lot and as long as you can make those commitments and understand that that's going to be what you need to do, then go for it. Because once you get past the first couple of years, then you feel like you're really into a rhythm. You can then start to delegate more. You can have that work life balance back. But for the first couple of years, especially with entrepreneurship, it is hard, so be prepared to go all in.
Kristina:
14:40
Yeah, you have to be all in. It can't just be a side hustle. If you have a side hustle and it's successful, then it's marginally successful. If you want to make it something that's going to grow, you need to be all in and you need to have everyone supporting you. If you don't have people supporting you, then it's going to hurt your family relationships. But as long as you're open and you communicate, this is what your plan is. Then hopefully when you get two, three years down the road that you can be in the position where I am, where you can then back off a bit, have a bit more delegation, and balance.
Bonnie:
15:13
So what's, what's next for you? What have you got your eye on in the next five years?
Kristina:
15:21
So we've maxed our current license of 25 home childcare providers. And all that means is I could reapply for a second licensed in the Ministry of Education. It's like 300 bucks or something like that. It's resubmitting all the paperwork and I can expand by another 25 homes. But we're really not interested in that at this point. So we're two years old. We grew really, really fast. So for the next year we want to be focusing on our core 25 we want to ensure that the core 25 homes are really strong, that they're really following our philosophy and our morals and kind of what we're planning for the business. And then once we're sure that all of those homes are really secured, then we'll look at expanding further.
Kristina:
16:06
It's really hard on the business side to turn people away. And that's kind of what I've been doing. So you're kind of looking at money and saying see you later. But if you don't have a strong base within your business, it doesn't matter how fast you're going to grow it'll collapse.
Bonnie:
16:21
Right. I think that's great. I think your approach to really growing what you have first and then thinking about what the bigger picture looks like is, a smart way to go. I like what you said, you know, like if you grow fast but you don't grow with quality then it's going to collapse within you.
Kristina:
16:40
And it's all relative to the business, right? So if I was making sunscreen and our sunscreen business grew massively and I just needed to make more sunscreen, then I could just make a bigger company and make more sunscreen. But we're not dealing with sunscreen. We're dealing with children and they're our most valuable resource. They are who are going to be taking care of us when we're older. They're growing up in a world that we don't even know what it's going to look like. So if we're not building them and giving them as much as we possibly can, we're not doing service to ourself and we're definitely not growing our business appropriately.
Bonnie:
17:13
So if you could go back in time to maybe, a point in time, finishing high school, when you're deciding what you want to be, whatever that is, and you could have lunch with yourself, that younger version of you, what would the conversation look like? What would you tell yourself?
Kristina:
17:31
Oh, so many things. But I think I thought of ihis one actually a little bit. Stop trying to grow up. I think that would be my biggest one. So I've listened to your podcast before and I've heard people go back and say like, you know, you're worth it. Like you're good just how you are and all that kind of stuff. And that's a really good message. But we spend much time teaching children and especially girls to plan for the future. What is your future going to look like? Who are you going to be in the future? What is your job, your five year, 10 year plan? And really you're going to get there regardless as to how much you plan or how much you don't plan. You're still going to grow up. So trying to live for tomorrow, for the next year or whatever, you're not living in that moment anymore. And so I think that would be my biggest, I always planned from the time I was really, really little what I was going to do when I grow up. And I spent less time actually doing this stuff on that day, in that moment.
Kristina:
18:25
So I think that would be my advice to myself is stop trying to be that next version of yourself. Just be happy where you are. And I think that only kind of came to me in the last year or so. And so I think it's also kind of a bit of a maturity thing and growing up. Like, I can look at someone who's 30, 35, I can look at somebody who's 50, 60, 70, and we're all still trying to do the same things and we're all still looking to tomorrow when really it's our relationships and the people that we're around are the most important thing in that moment.
Bonnie:
18:58
Awesome. So I'm going to ask you a question and answer with the first thing that comes to your mind.
Bonnie:
19:09
What's your favourite podcast?
Kristina:
19:09
Oh, I have two. So I'm going to break the rules already. So my business favorite podcast is Building a StoryBrand. He's got a book as well, but the podcast, it's kind of like, he says it often in there. It's like getting a MBA through a podcast. He has amazing guests on and it's all kind of entrepreneur and business related. And he talks about, he's not a millennial himself, but he talks a lot about the millennial workforce and kind of how to help those people. The second one would be Huga in the Early Years. And Huga isn't a childcare term that we really use in North America yet. We like our Reggio and our Montessori and our emergent curriculum. But Huga is a Danish word. It's actually comes from like the 18th century and it kind of encompasses everything that I already am in my Canadian form.
Kristina:
20:02
So Huga is just living in a way that is comfort. So you're hot chocolate and you're warm blankets when you sit on the couch and bringing that into their early years. So it encompasses the Reggio, but it also just, it teaches you to live in the moment and then just to kind of live more naturally.
Bonnie:
20:25
What book are you reading?
Kristina:
20:28
I'm actually reading the Tattooist . It's actually from the perspective of the tattooist in Auschwitz. So a lot of people don't know that the artist and in the concentration camp that would actually put the number on the Jewish prisoners was actually a Jewish prisoner himself. So he was putting those numbers on his people. And so it's kind of his story and I really like world war II kind of delving into that stuff.
Bonnie:
21:10
Have you read the Alice Network?
Kristina:
21:12
I did like that one too. Yeah, that was a good one. The only one I really didn't like, like I liked the story, but the end of it really, really bothered me. Sarah's key. Oh yeah, that's a hard one. That was a hard one to read. The whole time I was really hopeful that the little boy made it. But now is there anyone that hasn't read it? Spoiler alert.
Bonnie:
21:36
My final question is, who's a person, male or female that you are currently looking at and saying, wow
Kristina:
21:47
That's a hard one. Dr. Jean Clinton is a professor in the early years. So she talks all over the world. Her view of the emerging curriculum, child brain development, anything to do with that. I love, her I soak up every bit of it. She's just an incredible spirit.
Bonnie:
22:11
Kristina, I want to thank you for joining us today. I think this was a, a great conversation and an extension of a lot of our conversations we've had over practice and games. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us for an episode.
Brian:
22:28
Run it like a girl is hosted by Bonnie Mouck. Brian Long is the producer web design and technical assistance provided by Dan Mouck and music courtesy of the talented Brooklyn Gillechuck. On the next episode of Run it Like a Girl. Andrea Cook is an industry leader in the art of connecting brands to consumers in the digital and data age. She's the president of FCB/SIX a data and digital creative agency that has received plenty of accolades within the industry. Andrea also dedicates her time to promoting the development of women in the digital marketing business. Andrea Cook on the next episode of run it like a girl.
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