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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Merkatz

Celebrating 30 Years of Serving Our Local Community

In 1994, Amazon.com launched. Also that year, a determined 23-year-old Seattle native opened the doors of her first daycare center, and she’s been shaping young lives ever since. Here is her story.


By Deanna Merkatz, Founder & Owner, Lil' People's World


Deanna Merkatz, Founder & Owner of Lil’ People’s World
Deanna Merkatz, Founder & Owner of Lil’ People’s World

Thirty years ago, I could have never imagined telling myself today that I would spend the next three decades of my life in childcare. But there I was – 23 years old, just graduated college, and filled with ambition to start a business that I could call my own. After all, with a 3-month-old daughter, I was driven to create a better life for her and for me. 


As you can imagine, this was no easy feat in the 1990s for a woman in her early 20s. Nonetheless, I refused to acknowledge any limitations that others might have set for me. (Call it ignorance, if you will.) Although I was loaded with drive and knew I wanted to start my own business, I was lost on what to pursue. 


After countless hours of searching for different business ideas, I stumbled across a vacant daycare building. Having an infant daughter, a childcare business felt more rewarding than other options. I had toured several childcare facilities in the area and felt as though they were too institutional, cold, and uninviting. I felt so inspired and driven once I knew my search was over.


Deanna and one of her first classes at the Kirkland location.
One of the first classes at the Kirkland location.

And with that, Lil’ People’s World Kirkland was born and the adventure began. I was in the building day and night for months on end, improving every aspect of the business. I wasn’t just installing floors and painting walls; I was learning state licensing codes and how to structure an early learning environment. 



Having little background in Early Childhood Education, I knew this was an ever-evolving process. After much hard work from my wonderful team and me, I expanded within the first three years, opening my second location in Bellevue in June 1996. Soon after, I made my best business decision to date: bringing on my incredible General Manager, Shawn Graves-MacLeod, who has been with me ever since. Then, in August 2007, we opened our wonderful North Seattle location.




 

Because of my dedicated team, I have enjoyed every moment in childcare these past 30 years. I am proud to have offered our local communities a homegrown, family-owned neighborhood daycare where they can drop off their children and know they will be safe and cared for to the highest standard. 


Although I started and continue to run the company, I happily give most of the credit to the Directors, Management, and every team member at Lil’ People’s World, because they deserve it. The curriculum that’s executed daily, the staffing, the care of the children, the endless list of regulations, and the diligence of the management make all the difference. 



 

30 Years of Joy: Celebrating Our Dedicated Staff's Commitment to Excellence!
Here's to 30 more years of joy, smiling faces, and so much learning!

I am proud to say that my management team can endure and persevere through any challenge they face. They are passionate about their work and manage to enjoy everything they do in their efforts toward making Lil’ People’s World what it is today.


The COVID pandemic, if anything, could have seen us fall apart. Instead, we all braced, worked hard, adapted, and took special care of the families and children in our hands when the world was in crisis. Through that, we came up with the phrase (and hashtag) #LPWStrong. Reflecting on such trying times makes me truly understand how blessed and grateful I am to have built such a strong and powerful team at Lil’ People’s World. 


Today, I can proudly say, as a mother of 3 wonderful children and the founder of Lil People’s World, that I have enjoyed every moment of the crazy journey thus far. I hope that any young woman with ambition and drive feels the confidence and fire to start her own business so she, too, can persevere and feel the immense emotional and business rewards that follow.

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