- Q&A with Carrie Herndon, Founder of The STEM Zone Maker Space
T.H.R.I.V.E. Participant Interviews
POSTED: 2 August 2022
I had encouragement from my family and friends to open my family friendly Make Space. After hearing, “You should start a business like that” or “you are the most resourceful person I know” enough times I decided that maybe I should take the risk and go for it!
While teaching online during the pandemic due to COVID, I had some extra time and freedom to start learning about being a business owner. I enrolled in several online classes, watched Youtube videos on website design, learned about employment laws, small business taxes, LivePlan and marketing. Had I not felt stifled in my career teaching at a small private school in San Diego, I would not have had the motivation to learn about becoming a small business owner. We officially opened our doors in Dec 2021. The pandemic has made business traffic slower than I projected.
I have over 15 years of teaching experience in four different states. I have trained teachers on STEM Education and Maker Spaces, and have presented at multiple National and International Conferences on innovation in the classroom. I have been honored with a handful of teaching awards (National, State Level, and Local) and have written and received over $150,000 in grants for the schools that I taught at. In addition, I am a Montessori Credentialed teacher and feel strongly that people learn through the work of their hands.
Success is two fold: financial stability AND happiness in the work that you do. As a small business owner – it doesn’t feel like I am working at all – I enjoy what I do so much that it feels more like a hobby (unless I am answering questions from my book keeper – than it feels like torture).
We are honest in our dealingsThe pandemic has slowed the number of people that have been coming into my business. It has also added extra cost – from buying masks, air filters, and additional cleaning supplies. We wipe down every surface nonstop!
We talk a lot about professional development, but how do you work on your soft skills as a leader? What is the emotional preparation and development process like?
For me I try to reflect on every aspect of my business; from the customer experience to the employee experience. I also listen to Podcasts regarding small business ownership and I read A LOT.
I want to break even financially – so that I can repay myself and help to support my family. I also feel that it is important to support the local public schools – they do not have the resources that the private schools have. I also feel that it is important to help my employees grow in their skills. So 1) I value financial stability, 2) the ability to give back to and support my local school district and community, and 3) providing opportunities for my employees to grow.
I am focusing on marketing and designing classes. My goal is to be ready to offer franchises in the next two to three years.