As part of our ongoing Side Hustle Series, we meet Grace Xue – founder of Lighthouse At-Home Childcare. Partly in response to the needs of her own child, Grace and her husband went all-in in the early childhood education industry and found massive success.
Find out what it really takes to grow a great business while growing a great family. And get simple tips from real people, to inspire you and help you write your own success story. Read all the articles in our Side Hustle Series.
Let’s start with telling us a bit about you – what do you do and what are your interests?
I see myself firstly as a lucky mother to 3 beautiful children. Another important role of mine is being the founder and CEO of Lighthouse At-Home Childcare.
Lighthouse at-home is an early childhood educational support service to home based educators and grandparents, and we have become the largest NZ-owned provider in our space.
My main role in the company is to ensure a consistently high level of service across all our offices, for our teachers, admins, customer services, visiting teachers and educators. In practice, this means investigating and designing research and development projects, creation and refinement of processes and policies, ensuring visiting teachers and educators are receiving continued professional development, training and support, and creating valuable partnerships with the community such as mainly music, and ASB Showgrounds for our free children’s day event.
My passion is to do my part to help improve the lives of children in New Zealand and all over the world and my business has allowed me to do that so I find my job immensely fulfilling.”
So how did you end up running an early childhood centre?
My partner and I used to both be in the ICT industry. But our lives were turned upside down when our first child struggled at the childcare centre he was in.
It broke my heart to hear him saying “I don’t want to go to day care” every morning, so we decided to create our own centre that would really focus on the children’s wellbeing.
We had to sell our property, borrow heavily and after two years of searching, finally took over Lighthouse Preschool. We made a whole lot of changes to the centre and very soon it built up a long waiting list. During this time, we saw a gap in the space, so we decided to bring our Lighthouse curriculum to the home-based market, that’s how Lighthouse at-home Childcare came about.
From day one, we focused on quality and innovation, and put children’s interests at the top of the priority list in all decisions we make. Lighthouse at-home has grown from strength to strength, and I believe it’s setting new benchmarks for the industry.
Owning a business which grew so rapidly over the first 3 years had its own challenges as we struggled to keep up with demand and infrastructure.
Looking at the business now, I am truly proud of all that we have achieved as a team. I have been announced as a finalist both in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and the NEXT Woman of the Year Award, which I’m extremely humbled by.
I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else in the world.”
How has following your dreams impacted your family life?
My children’s lives are better off because of Lighthouse at-home’s educational programme, which is why I started the business – to better my own children’s early years and those of children around.
Our staff get thank-you letters, gifts on a daily basis for what we’ve done for their children, we see first-hand the positive changes our services make in those families lives! Seeing the smiles on children’s faces, and hearing the stories of happy parents, grandparents and caregivers gives me so much joy and makes going to work every day a great experience.
Lighthouse at-home is about providing quality educational support service to children who are looked after in a home environment by someone else (not child’s own parents), which is what my mother-in law does.
Through Lighthouse’s program, my children benefited tremendously, and knowing that my mother in-law is supported by a professional friendly team with all the childcare knowledge, gives me a peace of mind.
I feel through Lighthouse, I’m not only able to deliver the best outcome to my children, my mother in-law, but I’m also helping hundreds of other families. I think being able to follow my dream has made me a better woman and better mother. I feel fulfilled and inspired.
What advice would you give other people about following your dreams?
- Remain true to who you are and what you believe in.
- You’ll be tumbled around and challenges are just part of the journey.
- When things do get tough, and they will, remind yourself of the reasons that you started on this journey and celebrate the achievements you’ve made on the way.
For more expert advice on growing and managing your family’s finances check out our Grown ups: Family finances section.