Flexible and affordable childcare with top-notch caregivers and facilities are every parent’s dream. Karen Beninati, mother to a 15-year-old son, has finally figured out how to make those dreams a reality with WeVillage, a childcare solution founded on a commitment to provide exceptional flexible childcare within beautifully designed locations, along with state-of-the-art programs and activities.
What sets WeVillage apart from other childcare options is their flexible scheduling and the elimination of complicated long-term contracts. Offering childcare options anywhere from just a few hours of care to preschool, WeVillage is certainly breaking the traditional childcare structure.
“Disrupting the norm would be an understatement—we are a fully flexible, licensed childcare facility with modern and beautifully designed facilities and an innovative play-based curriculum. From infant care to preschool, after-school programs and homework help; from school break day camps to organic meals and French lessons, your child will thrive on every level,” Beninati says.
WeVillage has several locations in Oregon and opened their first California location in Sherman Oaks last year. Beninati sits down with Mom.me to discuss how she balances he family time with her growing business.
Describe the moment when you were inspired to create WeVillage.
As a busy producer in the entertainment industry, I was always on the move. This meant I had to find a conducive environment to put my son in where he would be taken care of while I was busy. I researched and looked into dozens of places but couldn't find a place where I really felt comfortable leaving him. I had a nanny at the time but she left without notice, leaving me desperate for childcare for my son. That's when I saw the gap in the childcare industry for busy professionals like me, who wanted flexibility and quality care without the burden of a strict commitment.
What sets WeVillage apart from other childcare facilities and services?
Flexibility and quality childcare is at the core of who we are at WeVillage and that's what really sets us apart. WeVillage provides quality childcare with flexible drop off options (great for date nights, unexpected meetings, and weekends), no contracts, a state-of-the-art facility, high-standard education and affordable price options!
As a mother as well as the founder and owner of WeVillage, how do you make it all work?
I wish I could say it all works all the time, but it doesn't. However, when things do come together seamlessly, I attribute it to a great team. I have a team of people who understand what WeVillage stands for and are skilled enough to bring ideas to reality and manage WeVillage facilities. I also have a supportive family that steps in when needed. I try to take care of myself as well so I don't burn out. So pamper days, vacations and me-time are built into my schedule. On off days, I get to remind myself of why I started WeVillage and that motives me to think and do bigger and better.
When did you first feel successful?
I first felt successful when I was able to get my first location up, running and profitable. It was such a great feeling to see something I had put so much time and into finally come to fruition. I’ve successfully opened up three other locations since then, which were all very proud moments too.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what are some ways that you want to teach your kids about "girl power"?
Although I have a son, I want him to see that girls can do whatever they set their minds to and can break barriers. I want to encourage him to be a part of movements that encourage women to fulfil their potential and be their best selves. For the young girls that walk through the doors of WeVillage, I want to teach them that they are enough and they can achieve whatever they want to with dedication, discipline and perseverance. I want to teach them to dream big and think outside the box and look out for opportunities to solve problems in their community with unique ideas.
Has there been anything about creating WeVillage that surprised you or inspired you in a way you didn't expect?
Honestly, the amount of mothers who have given up on things they want to achieve because they are engulfed by their children's lives has been something really surprising to me—and one of the biggest reasons this happens is because there are a lack of facilities and services like the ones WeVillage provides. They've almost, in a sense, lost themselves and can't pursue activities that they love doing. It's always a joy when I see mothers or even fathers drop off their kids and are able to leave without guilt because they trust us. That trust allows them to go out and do things they enjoy
What's your advice for moms who are looking to start their own business?
Just do it! It's tough, but you can do it. There will be a lot to figure out and there will be good and bad days, but push through and join the league of other female business owners. Find what motivates you, create a system that works for you and your family, and surround yourself with people who uplift and contribute to where you're headed. And bring your kids over to WeVillage while you go out and conquer the world!
What sacrifices have you made as a mom and business owner to keep everything in balance?
As a business owner, there are certainly many sacrifices you make. As the owner, you are the first one in and the last one to leave and often miss events with your family/children on weekends for your own business. I have tried to keep my work and family life balanced, but as I grow the business and as my son gets older, things shift and I have to reprioritize often.
If you could have lunch with any business mogul/entrepreneur/nonprofit founder living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would have lunch and a chat with Barack Obama. He ran a country because he overcame incredible adversity and became the first black president. I would ask him how he prioritizes his personal relationships and how he manages such a huge team. He is also so kind, real and doesn’t mess around. He is smooth in his dealings with people and the most eloquent person I have ever heard speak.
Are there any new initiatives or products on the horizon for WeVillage?
WeVillage has two unique characters—or as we like to call them, “we-peeps” (he-peep and she-peep)—and we would love to bring them to life in a form of series or educational program for kids. I would definitely love to branch out or franchise WeVillage in Los Angeles and other major cities in the United States.