Vivienne Yeagy always envisions bigger. Vivienne was home schooled by her mother Susan, along with her four sisters. Her childhood dream has been to have her very own school, incorporating year round education and child care. This stemmed from her early education in a one room school house with a red door in the family’s yard. Susan worked hard while she incorporated multifaceted ways for the children to learn. Instead of rote memorization and writing until their hands hurt, subject knowledge and life skills were advanced through active participation. The siblings learned together and from each other. “There was so much learning which happened by physically doing rather than just sitting at a desk.”
In 2010, Vivienne started her degree in elementary education from Fort Lewis College (FLC). She worked as a babysitter for several families when classes ended in the afternoon. The work location shifted from each family home as she cared for as many as eight children at a time. In 2013, a mother from one of the families pushed Vivienne to develop a summer program and recommended the Smiley Building as a possible work location. Vivienne got in touch with Smiley’s owner, Charles, and broached the concept. Charles accommodated by allowing Vivienne to use the Smiley Building’s lobby. The summer program began at nine in the morning and finished four in the afternoon. Each day began with academic lessons and was followed up with a field trip. Her focus combined education with physical activity.
She utilized the Smiley Building for holidays and summer breaks, and family homes during the school year. Two years after she began at the Smiley Building, Vivienne realized she wasn’t babysitting, she was providing child care. Vivienne recognized the opportunity to take her business to the next level. She had worked on a business plan during that time, but the process was incomplete. Her quandary was to learn how to advance from a babysitter into a business. In addition, she pondered on the process to obtain child care licensure and insurance?
Vivienne attended a ‘Start Your Own Business’ workshop at the Durango Public Library that was sponsored by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC). There was an abundance of information for her to absorb on topics such as accounting, marketing, and legal matters. Fortunately, Vivienne volunteered in a youth outreach program that involved a member of the SBDC, Joe Bishop. Vivienne followed up from the workshop by informing Joe about her vision. He referred her to the SBDC to make her plans concrete.
With SBDC’s guidance, Vivienne submitted paperwork to Colorado’s Secretary of State office and other related organizations to legitimize her business, acquire the appropriate insurance coverage and child care licensure. With the certification process for ‘Nifty Nanny” in the works, demand for Vivienne services leapt from ten families to fifty. She asked SBDC for financial planning and organization assistance to set the business up properly.
Vivienne observed there wasn’t anybody else doing what she did, and thought about protecting her business. She took a second SBDC workshop on intellectual property, taught by attorney Kristina Fox, an expert in the field. Vivienne said the workshop also contained a lot of great information.
Nifty Nanny has been a legal full time operation in the Smiley lobby after Vivienne graduated FLC in 2014. In February 2017, Nifty Nanny moved into one of Smiley’s office spaces. The office has been converted into a child care/education classroom for children between the ages of five to twelve. Vivienne has two full time employees and two assistance she can call on as needed. “I am having fun learning how to run a business. I get to be my own accountant, legal advisor, and administrative officer while also being the fun nanny with the kids. It’s a lot of work and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. The biggest help I received from Joe was with organizational support and helping me realize this was bigger than just Vivienne.”
She is still focused on owning a one room school house. Maybe SBDC will play another role for Nifty Nanny down the road. For now, Vivienne feels she has achieved a part of her dream.