Cathie Gagnon, Teddy Bear’s Playhouse, 108 Mile Ranch

Loan Client

After working for many years as a professional nanny and taking care of other people’s children, Cathie Gagnon realized that she was missing out on her own son’s childhood. She needed to find a new career that would allow her to spend time with her child and make a living. “I wanted my to have my son at home with me and we were looking at having more children in the near future, so it just seemed perfect to open a daycare.

It allowed me to make an income and have the privilege of being at home with my children,” says Gagnon. That was 16 years ago, and since then Teddy Bear’s Playhouse in 108 Mile Ranch, BC has grown from what was once a family daycare to a full children’s centre offering preschool and daycare. “The business has expanded, expanded, expanded! I took my Early Childhood Education Certification as well as many other courses, classes and programs that would benefit the business. As a result I was able to grow and offer more services. In this business you can NEVER stop learning; don’t ever think you know it all because that puts you behind your competition,” says Gagnon.

Teddy Bear’s Playhouse is now four times the size of when it first launched. In order to facilitate that kind of growth, Gagnon turned to her bank for a much needed business loan.

“At that time there was an overpowering number of daycares and preschools, so banks would not finance yet another one. I really had to expand, but after the first failed attempt at getting financing I understood that having a great business plan in your head is not good enough,” admits Gagnon. “I took a month and did all my research, put it down on paper and then went to Women's Enterprise Centre for my loan and was accepted!”

With the funds she received, Gagnon was able to move her centre, give it a facelift and purchase new equipment.

“Women’s Enterprise Centre made the experience stress free by explaining details of what they needed from me as well as really discussing the financial plan to make sure I was on a steady path to success. I know the bank would not have even looked at me for a business loan and Women's Enterprise Centre saw the potential that expanding my center would offer my community!”

108 Mile Ranch, being a mill town, has been extremely affected by the economy over the last few years. Gagnon noticed that several local daycares shutdown due to loss of business, but Teddy Bear’s Playhouse stayed open, busy and profitable. Gagnon attributes her success to the updates she made to her centre.

“I received the loan and gave the centre a huge update right at the time of the economic downturn. I knew that if we had something different and fresh from other daycares, that people would more likely continue to keep their children in our preschool and daycare. I really feel that it was the financial help from Women's Enterprise Centre that allowed me to make the necessary changes and save my centre from an economic crisis,” says Gagnon.

Having started her entrepreneurial journey to spend time with her children, it only seems natural that Gagnon take the next step in her life now that her children are teenagers and about to graduate high school. In the next few years she plans to step back from the business and start handing the reigns over to someone else, however that’s not to say that Gagnon won’t be in background managing the business and its future successes.