Necessity, as the proverb goes, is the mother of invention.
When Alexandra Carnio found herself juggling being a full-time mother with a young child, and running her own business, that necessity led to the invention of ProducKIDvity — a childcare academy and co-working centre in downtown Kelowna.
Carnio is the founder and CEO of the venture that provides childcare services, as well as working space for parents and non-parents.
“You really can’t work well with young kids at home,” says Carnio.
The concept of kids at daycare, while their parents work in another part of the same building, is not new, but Carnio says the idea is fairly unique to Canada.
“There is only one other space in Canada that is actively doing this, and that is The Workaround in Toronto.”
Carnio opened the doors to ProducKIDvity in April 2020 and had an immediate waitlist for childcare.
“It’s been a really positive response from the community,” she says. “It just seems like we’ve been able to check off a lot of boxes for families that weren’t previously being met in Kelowna.”
Soem of those boxes include extended hours, up to 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, weekend childcare and a meal program.
“Starting something from an idea and actually seeing it come to life is amazing,” Carnio adds. “The best part is the feedback and uptake from our services that this was such a need in Kelowna.”
Carnio credits her education for helping achieve her success. Starting with a business and marketing program at Lethbridge College in Alberta, she transferred to Royal Roads University in Victoria in 2013, and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management.
“I actually still use the business plan book that I had in university to do my business planning for this business,” she says.
Starting a business from scratch is never easy she advises those wanting blaze their own trails, adding it can be stressful and expensive.
“Nothing ever goes to budget and nothing ever goes exactly as you plan.”
But don’t let that stop you, she continues. During the planning and construction for ProducKIDvity Carnio gave birth to twins.
“So that was definitely a bit challenging, but at the same time I am building this for them.”
Other challenges came in the form of moments of doubt.
“I think if you look at any business it can be overwhelming,” Carnio says. “I really had to break it into bite size chunks for myself and put things in phases and stages, because if I would’ve looked at just the end goal it would have been so daunting.”
She advises budding entrepreneurs to do their homework, market research, and plan and their finances well.
“Always budget for more time and more money than you need because nothing ever goes on timeline as I found out very quickly in this business.“
Carnio has future expansion plans for ProducKIDvity in Kelowna, and internationally.