When Ashley Willis began her search for the ideal daycare for her daughter, none that she found met the basics of her criteria—a facility that was faith-based, transparent and parent-friendly. Willis decided that if she couldn’t find what she was seeking she would create it, and Honor Christian Academy began to take shape. Willis and husband went all in, but renovations and unexpected repairs quickly depleted the couple’s savings. Despondent and almost defeated, the entrepreneur came to Community Ventures after approaching a local lender for a business loan only to be told that she was “un-bankable.”
Tracey Spann, a Business Development Specialist in CV’s Louisville office, worked with Willis to procure a microloan supported by the Small Business Administration that allowed the Willis’ to complete repairs, make upgrades and purchase appliances and equipment necessary to open the doors of HCA. The daycare launched in October 2022 at 4301 Taylor Blvd. in Louisville.
Upon speaking to Spann, Willis says she felt an instant connection.
“I had never come up with 3-year cash flow or even a business plan,” Willis explained. “Tracey helped with all that—she was always a resource. She came by the daycare to give me input and was a sound business voice. She is always available, and always answers my call.”
It was important to Willis that her business be located in the type of neighborhood that she grew up in, even though she knew that more affluent clientele could be found a few blocks away. She said that she didn’t realize until she was older that there were businesses that only took from the community and never gave anything back. This entrepreneur wants to do the opposite and stand for something positive. She has a true compassion for the underserved,and says that Honor Christian Academy will reflect that.
HCA will feature a camera system called ‘Watch Me Grow’ that will allow parents to tune in to live streams of kids in the facility. She hopes that this transparency will make parents feel good about their daycare environment and show her commitment to providing extra love and attention.
“I came from a background where my mom let me quit everything if it got too hard, and Tracey said it was the same with her,” Willis said emotionally. “This is the only thing outside of my marriage and my child that I didn’t quit. Tracey promised me that she wouldn’t let me quit.”
Spann added, “That’s what I’m most proud of when I talk about Ashley. I know she wanted this badly because she willingly exposed a character flaw by telling me she easily gives up. I did tell her I wouldn’t let her quit, and to commemorate that we took a picture together with her daughter.”
For more information on Honor Christian Academy, call (502) 614-8090. To learn more about how Community Ventures can help your small business, contact Lew Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org.