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Rosa Marie: keeping to her WHY and forever changing daycare

We interviewed Rosa in the evening. We were both so tired and stressed, both having hard days as business owners and humans. Sometimes the grind makes you forget your WHY and you are just getting through it. But sitting with Rosa, who knows her why and uses it to define everything she does with Marvelous Minds left us both in a new spirit. Here is a part of Rosa’s marvelous story of Marvelous Minds Academy:

Marvelous Mind Academy started out of my desire to be a present parent.

I was six weeks into being a mom and it just felt really weird to have to turn my baby over to literally a stranger. Like what- I just carried this child. First of all, I desired this child, carried this child, birth this child, and I only get 6 full weeks with you. That's it. And I turn you over to the world and let somebody else pour in their values their, you know… Oh, my gosh, it just was really scary for me. And I just really, really, really. Really wanted to be a present parent growing up.

My mom's an amazing mother and she does not like when I say she is a single mom. She goes, “Yes, by choice. But I was not alone. I didn't raise you guys alone. I was single.” She did an amazing job. She made it look so easy. But I don't remember playing with my mom, like, I just remember her being a taxi driver. She made sure I got to my recitals or anything that I was doing school related or extracurricular, she was on point. Me, my brothers, all of us. But I was like, gosh, I just don't remember playing with Mom, you know, I just didn't.

I want to create memories of play with my children. I just started to look at different options of like how can I do this? I had the greatest example in the world: my grandmother, who did childcare for 30 plus years. I was like, “you know, we're going to do that.” And I started a mobile summer camp program where I was literally picking kids up from anywhere in Monroe County. Didn't matter, long as it was Monroe County. I picked them up and yeah, that was whoa.

Now give me a time frame. What year are we?


I picked them up from anywhere in Monroe County and we would go to a different adventure every day. This is so crazy to me. We used to go to strong museum, the Science Center, the Art Gallery, Seneca Park Zoo, and that fact that in 2020 we landed in village gate like literally in the center of all of the places we used to go. It's just like, wow to me when things come full circle. So it's pretty amazing, but that's how we got our start. I threw up a Groupon and parents ate it up.

You just threw a Groupon up…

I just threw a Groupon up.

Like I'm going to do this right now just with the Groupon.

I threw a Groupon up and I started getting phone calls and I was shocked. No one running backgrounds, just who are you and what is your program?

They are willing to randomly drop their kids off to you, and then taking them places and they were cool with that.

No, they didn't even drop their kids off. I picked them up.

We were so different in 2014. I feel like in 2020 people would have been like come get my kids.

I pulled up and I was so nervous. I was like, OK, it's one thing to have the phone voice and the posture and you have your website up and. I was like as soon as I pull up and this really creepy black van they're all gonna, like, grab their kids. But they did it. They're like, OK, go ahead, fun. And that's how we ran it for the first two years.

That's fantastic.

And we've been running ever since.

Do you ever think about going back to a model like that or having a model like that as part of your current model.

Not at the moment, you know, so I'm so drenched in what's happening today, like right now, that it's really, really hard to see us going back to that.

So you said that's what you're doing 2014 and that's how you got to here, I think you missed a couple of steps because I do know you and I know there's a little bit more. It wasn't so seamless like you were just picking up children. And now you have this amazing space and she floated in the Unicorn carriage and it landed her in.

Yes, exactly.

So maybe if you could just go back a couple of years.

OK. So 2014, we started the mobile summer camp program in between the summers - that was only during the summer. Then from nannying privately, I started a preschool program, a mobile preschool program where parents were dropping their kids off to libraries, preschoolers, and we would stay there, and they would learn. And then they would come back and pick them up. So we did that for a while. This is where the world really got a glimpse of Rosa. It was at the Toy Library. There was this amazing librarian there by the name of Sarah Fitz Romig, and I took a wrong turn going to this library. When I took this wrong turn, I saw this vacant building on Gorham St. and it just was like, Oh my God, a building. What if we had our own building? That would be amazing. All the minds we could reach and all the things we could teach- it would be so great. I got curious...

I wonder what the city is going to do with

this vacant building

And then you know, self-doubt kicks in. You're doing the dancing back and forth, and it's like “girl, the city gave you this building for a dollar, you wouldn't have a dime to rehab it.” I'm like, no, don't cut yourself short. But if anybody would know, a librarian would know. Right? And if the librarian doesn't know, then the librarian will know where to find the answer. I don't know why I hesitated the way that I hesitated, but the question didn't come out when I went to the library. I did my teaching for the day, and I got ready to leave. Miss Sarah was helping me put some learning materials in my car and this voice was like, “ask her.” I'm like, nah, forget it. No, I'm not going to ask her this little ask… I'm like, no, no, you gonna ask. “Ohh, do you know what the what the city is going to do with that vacant building on Gorham St?” And she was like “why?” I was like “well, I am just curious.” “Do you want a building? Because if you want one, I have one.”

Oh my gosh.

That matter of fact. I was like what you mean? No, I, yeah, sure. Let's talk.

We talked about it and I got an opportunity to share my vision for children. And she was like, "Do you know that I've been wanting this, and I've been observing you and watching you? And I would love to help you." Unbeknownst to me, she went home, talked about it over dinner, about this crazy lady she met and her son at the time was working for the City of Rochester. They were working on this big project for participatory budgeting, brand new just brought it to the city, but one of the things that they were missing from the ballot was childcare, the city had said. We need nontraditional childcare but they couldn't find a single person or entity to go on the ballot and so that opened the door for us to go on the ballot and that's how we got our first round of seed money. We were awarded in 2020 $50,000.

From asking the librarian while loading your truck.

That's the thing about life that I love more than anything else is. There’re so many stories that come from these little, tiny minutes. Moments. These glimpses. This moment. Your brain could have won and you could not have asked and then where would Marvelous Minds be?

Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Right. You took a different turn that day and didn't think. Oh, what about a building?

I'm glad you asked me to slow down, because at the time, I was still working for Wegmans. I remember going out and campaigning and letting people know that Marvelous Minds Academy is on this budget and on the ballot and everything and letting them know what we what we do and the vision doing the whole thing. I remember it was the night of the announcement, they were getting ready to announce who won. And I was scheduled to work. I was like, what if you win and you're not there, right? That's not going to look good at all.

And can they get the money back? If you're not there?

I don't know, right, but just like reputation precedes you and it's like, well, you awarded somebody who can't even take the time out to show up.

At the time, I was only working part time and I was like you going to go to work today and you gonna make $50.00, right? Or you could go and maybe, maybe walk away with 50K. I took the maybe. I took the maybe.

And you got it.

We did. We did.

Rosa remains a force. Listen to her whole interview to see how she continuously works on making her business into all it can be, while making sure she keeps to her why: her family. Rosa is an inspiration for anyone trying to find balance while being an entrepreneur.

Be bold, be brave, be the boss. @bossyroc

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