School is back in session and families are busier than ever. From parents working, carpools to and from school, sports, dance practice, church activities, family outings, errands and shopping, the grind never ends! So who is there for busy families who need a break? AJ's Treehouse! AJ's Treehouse is the Salt Lake valley's premier drop-in childcare located in Sandy, Utah. AJ's is a parent's dream because they are open late and weekends and no reservation is necessary. In addition, they offer a dynamic preschool program focused on engaged learning for children two and up. Whether you need a few hours or the whole day, AJ's is the perfect place for children to learn, grow and play. We sat down with owner Angela Hill to get the scoop on the treehouse, her passion for children's learning and why she felt her business was necessary for Utah parents.
UMLF: Angela what inspired you to start AJ’s Treehouse?
Angela: As a single mother, I know firsthand the challenges of trying to find quality childcare for my family. Years ago, I had to move across the country for my job and I knew no one in the area. It was such a challenge to be able to work, run errands and even clean my house without reliable childcare for my daughter. I then finally discovered an hourly, drop-in daycare facility in the area and it changed my life. I then wondered why there weren't more of these options for busy parents like me. When I returned to Utah I discovered there was only one drop-in place in the entire state and I knew right then that there needed to be more. I opened AJ's in March of 2017 and it has felt amazing to provide this service to my community and a great experience getting to know all of these families. The best part is I get to be with my daughter every day as well.
UMLF: What makes you different from other childcare providers in the area?
Angela: There are three big factors I believe set AJ's apart. First is our flexibility, we offer drop-in and hourly childcare so you don't have to pay for an entire day if you only need a couple of hours. We are also awesome because if you are in a pinch, there is no reservation necessary. Secondly, we offer discounts for families with multiple children who attend our center because we know how costly it can be. Thirdly, we offer preschool for children two and up. So not only are your children playing with friends they are also learning while they are at our center.
UMLF: Tell us about your center, and why kids love to come play?
Angela: The thing that I love about our center is that there is a lot of different options for kids to choose from. We have an interactive game that is projected onto the floor, a life-size treehouse, a hands-on creativity corner, an art area, tons of books to choose from, a playhouse and more. So no matter what your child is into it, they will be learning and entertained. They will also make fast friends!
UMLF: You obviously have a lot of happy families coming back again and again to your center. What is your favorite feedback you have ever received?
Angela: I love when parents tell me that we saved their lives because it was short notice and they all of the sudden needed help with their children and we were able to be there. It could be something fell through, a medical emergency, really anything and we have been there for these families. It really makes me and my staff feel so rewarded.
UMLF: Every business has its highs and lows. Tell us about a challenge you faced as a small business owner and how you overcame it?
Angela: If I could do things over again, my advice would be to get a good, reputable accountant right out of the gate and not rely on friends to help you. I trusted the wrong people and it ended up getting me into trouble. I would also tell other business owners to really take advantage of the free classes and resources that are out there. Lastly, I would tell people to work on their business every single day.
UMLF: How do you believe the Utah Microloan Fund has helped you and your business?
Angela: Where do I even begin? The UMLF not only provided the funds to start and then grow my business but then they also became incredibly invested in my success. They offer classes as well as a dedicated person on their team that will help me with anything I need. I even went through their Banking on Women program. Banking on Women was so helpful because it gave me more insight into building a business, an awesome group of women that supports one another and it gave me the confidence to be an entrepreneur.
UMLF: And lastly for fun, if you were a Crayola crayon, what color would you be and why? Angela: I think Vivid Violet! I love purple and it has always been my favorite color. :)
To stay in touch with AJ's Treehouse visit:
Providing business training and funding to entrepreneurs in start-up & existing businesses that do not qualify for traditional funding sources.