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Making it (Brand) Official: Community Comes First.

As many business founders and owners will tell you, communicating your brand is as much of a journey sometimes as the business itself. It takes time and iterations to get it fine-tuned.


Case in point, when I first started Le Village, I led with our name and logo only on our building and materials. But, after several lost patrons and one very confused Frenchman looking for the new neighborhood French restaurant, we decided to add the tagline Coworking + Childcare to everything.

Le Village Cowork


Coworking + Childcare


For a long time that seemed to sum things up nicely.


But over time I realized this tagline doesn’t seem to go far enough. It describes what we do, but it doesn’t really describe who we are. I put off making changes because—I wasn’t really sure what I’d add. But we were missing something and it was confusing for members. It was confusing for me.


Then, a few months back, I had an experience that made me pause and make addressing the brand gap a major priority.


 

I clearly remember that it was one of those days. We had a teacher call out very sick. Ms. Lilly was on maternity leave. Vivie was still enrolled but wrapping up her time. And I was just trying to make it work for the day. It was lunchtime. I was feeding my daughter at a side table while chatting with the assistant teacher. I was telling her about a tour coming in and the substitute scheduled that afternoon. Parents were wandering in and out to say hello and change diapers. It was busy, cheerful, and chaotic, which is a pretty constant energy at Le Village.


Then another one of our parents approached as I was talking with the teacher.


“Daniella.” He interrupted. I was nearly finished with my instruction so I tried to wrap it up quickly.


Daniella.” He insisted, standing pointedly.


I assumed at that point it was an emergency so I stopped—“I’m so sorry, yes?”


“There’s a puddle on the floor on the private office side.”


I was taken aback. “Is there a leak? Or…” I trailed off trying to think of what major disaster this puddle must be.


“No, it’s probably just some spilled water.”


I paused, taking that in. Really? I tried for a smile and friendly instruction. “Well, there are some towels in the drawer right next to the sink over there.”


He stood there looking at me - very possibly how I had been looking at him moments before.


“It’s not my job to clean it up.” He finally said dubiously.


I was dumbfounded as I stood there, while my assistant teacher shuffled her feet and my daughter whined for me to peel her Clementine. He must have sensed my loss.


“Well, you wouldn’t ask someone at Starbucks to clean up a puddle, right?”


I snapped back into the moment. I cleaned the puddle, which was fine. But the interaction left me feeling depleted, lost and…sad.


 

I unpacked the situation later with several of my mom friends who had been members until their own children graduated.


“Why am I so sad about this?” I asked. “ You guys would NEVER have done that.. It makes me feel so weird.”


“Eh, You’ve had some press. You are growing.”


“Vivie isn’t really there anymore and even when she is, she is so much older. You feel “other” now. People feel entitled to the service they are paying for.”

I twirled my wine in my hand and chewed on my lip. Finally, I said, “I don’t want to be a service.”

It sat there in the room while my mom-friends nodded. “I mean obviously it is, but it used to be so much more than that. I want people to treat Le Village like a community of parents helping parents. And to have parents in the space who are supportive of the teachers caring for their kids. Members supporting members. Lots of extra hands. The “service” Le Village provides is the opportunity to not have to choose between career and time with your little. That alongside our amazing curriculum led by amazing teachers who you actually know!”


“Of course!”


“And that is a great service!”


“Someone get this woman a soap box.”


“Someone get this woman some more wine.” 😅😂🥂



 


It’s funny to share this moment with my mom friends here—but these conversations give me clarity. These women and mothers have helped me guide, shape, and refine this organization. And what I finally came away with after all this was what I needed to add to our tagline.


Community


Community is central to Le Village’s identity and our most important foundation. It’s not a thing that we do. It is who we are. If it’s not about the community then we are just a service. And that’s not what I built Le Village to be.


There are going to be several times in the early years where all hell breaks loose—your boss scheduled a meeting at 8:30 am, your kid just blew out their pants, you were woken up 8 times last night, and in your rush, you dropped and spilled your coffee. You are late. The classrooms are open and Lilly is giving a tour. Now what?


If you’ve created community—someone will see you! They will see your silent SOS and near mental breakdown. They will take your baby and bring them to the classroom. The teachers can handle the blowout and screaming. Someone else will pour you another cup of coffee while you tell your boss in your ear pods that yes, you will be logging in momentarily.


And guess what? Ms. Lilly sees you, and she’s passed off the tour and is on her way. Later someone will pour you a glass of wine and you can both complain about how sleep regressions have made you seriously question procreating a second time. Then you’ll get a text video of your kid hitting a major milestone—their first wobbly steps. You pop over to the window to watch and the teacher will say, “They always go through a little sleep regression when they start walking! This too shall pass! Oh and look what they made for you today!”…


And you’ll get a breath in a safe space. And you’ll refill your metaphorical cup and strap on the armor of love that you are gonna need for sleep regression night #5 because—guess what, that shit ain’t over.


That is what this place is.


The early years will go by so slow and so fast. I can say that now with a completely different understanding. The days are long and the years are short. I’m so glad I created partnerships, friendships, and community for myself when I did. I love my friends from my “old life” dearly. Some of them are moms! Some of them are besties. But I love my friends that I made in my mom years so differently. Because they saw versions of that mess in real time and were there for me in the moments that mattered most – without judgment or expectations of who I was supposed to be or how I was supposed to react. They just saw me. Mom me.


We are here to raise our kids together and to create a support system for each other. Our amazing staff is here to be a part of all of this—and to guide your young kids. But this is a partnership. Not a service.


So anyway we are rebranding. 😂


I like it.


What do you think?







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