In 2005, Tessa and Derrick Holloway were confronted with a not-so-uncommon problem: They needed to find an early childhood development center for their kids, after the owner of the Port Allen center their children had been attending informed them she was planning to close. After a lot of consideration, the couple came up with a not-so-common solution: Buy the company and go into business for themselves. “I always knew I’d be in management, maybe finance, but I never thought I’d work with kids,” says Tessa, who was working for Blockbuster in internal auditing and loss prevention at the time, while Derrick was operating a copper plating business in New Roads. “But after we started getting into it, it quickly became a passion.” Though they didn’t have any previous experience in the early childhood development business, they were parents. “We knew what we liked about the center our kids went to, what we didn’t like and what we expected,” she says. “We talked it over, mortgaged our house and bought the center.”
After buying the first center in 2006, the Holloways quickly ironed out a business model that they felt could work at other centers, should additional acquisition opportunities arise. “We knew we could provide quality childcare from a family perspective instead of a corporate perspective,” Tessa explains. “We instilled in our center what we wanted as parents for our own kids. And with everything that’s going in today’s world, safety and security really sets us apart from our competition because we’re involved in every aspect of the business.” Not long after the Port Allen center was operating successfully, the Holloways acquired one in Baton Rouge, and opened others in Mandeville and Lakes Charles.
2017 kicked off a new era of growth for the Holloways. With an updated business model and growth plan, they sold their Lake Charles center and bought one in Prairieville. Last year, they sold their original Port Allen location, opened a new center in Zachary and acquired another in downtown Baton Rouge. This year, the Holloways plan to open their sixth center in the Rouzan development off Perkins Road, as they activity looking for more expansion opportunities. Through additional acquisitions and new builds, the Holloways would like to grow Kidz Karousel into a national brand like KinderCare—and they plan to do it on their own. “Childcare is a finicky thing and we don’t want our name on something we don’t have our hands on,” Tessa says, dismissing the idea of franchising.