Special Segment

BLACK CHILDCARE BUSINESS OWNER SHARES HER BUSINESS JOURNEY – BLACK BUSINESS MONTH EDITION

The columnist observed Keyona Hardison, owner of K&J Enrichment Program, attentiveness to customers to ensure timely summer camp enrollment. The childcare center keeps her busy, but that doesn’t stop her from smiling as she provides quality customer service to her clientele. She shared the fun activities and trips to the Summer Camp. “You’re a Lifesaver!” a customer said in response to Hardison’s customer service to get her grandchild enrolled in the summer camp.

Hardison is living her dream as a Childcare Owner of Cumberland County’s popular childcare business. The moment is still surreal to Hardison. “Whenever I drive into the parking lot of my establishment, I tell myself this is really mines,” said Hardison to the Exclusive Press.

Hardison has been in the childcare business for almost ten years. She explored different careers before finding her niche. Her entrepreneurship dream is a story of taking what little you have and turning it into a career goal. “I knew I didn’t want to attend college. All I wanted to do was find my career passion that would create generation wealth”, said Hardison.

After leaving the YMCA, Hardison got a taste test of entrepreneurship. Hardison started a childcare center in her mother’s garage, passing flyers throughout her neighborhood. She enrolled 18 kids during her first year and reached 25 the following year. Hardison’s fuel was still running to drive to the top of the mountain. God GPS her directions to a former owner’s closed business for sale in the Tiffany Pines Subdivision of Fayetteville. Hardison took a risk with a shining opportunity to start her business. She took the ingredients of a closed business and the $3,000 she saved and borrowed into Cumberland County’s popular childcare business (now located on Bonanza Drive).

She went through a rocky start, having no utility services at the grand opening, but finished strong – enrolling 35 kids in the first year in business. After running the camp, Hardison didn’t want to return to the YMCA.

The pandemic brought challenges – some of her clients were sick or laid off. As a businesswoman, she learned to navigate challenging times and adapt to change. She kept a good number of kids in the program and remote learning. She reached 100 kids by the end of 2022.

The 33-year-old Fayetteville native celebrated five years of business in April 2023 at her current location. In addition, she opened a candle shop next to her childcare entity. “I sell unique custom scented candles for guests to make. My goal was to create a women’s sanctuary”, Hardison said.

She received the prestigious Fayetteville Observer 40 Under 40 award in 2021 for her accomplishments as an entrepreneur.

Hardison reflects on the times her teacher, former supervisors wrote her off, and former YMCA coworkers were in awe of her business success. She echoed those words to her former supervisor, who sought business advice from her–years after he had fired her from her job at the Autism Society.  “You fired me, but you opened a door for me to see the vision for my life,” Hardison said.

Her favorite quote is, “God did it again in my life.” She emphasizes that God always shows up whenever she thinks something will not work out. She leaves a message to those who want to pursue their dreams. “If you don’t love it, it won’t work. When you love it, it becomes a passion. It becomes easy”, stated Hardison.

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