WeVillage isn’t your typical daycare center. Not only are they your Totally Awesome pick for best drop-in childcare in Portland, they also provide high-quality childcare on an hourly basis with no reservations required. (Did you hear that right? No reservations!) Throw in their offerings of nutritious meals and snacks, clean and modern aesthetic, and friendly staff, and you’ve got the answer to all of your childcare prayers. You can thank founder Karen Beninati, who saw a huge need in the Portland childcare scene and jumped on the opportunity to fill it. Here’s what Karen had to say about the idea of drop-in playcare, what makes WeVillage awesome, and more:

Red Tricycle: Congratulations on being voted “Most Awesome” by your community! What do you think your customers value most about your business?

Karen Beninati: Parents love the flexibility that we offer–we’re open late during the week and on weekends-and they can drop the kids and go, it’s as simple as that.  Parents are amazed at how easy our process is and how wonderful our centers are.  Parents also love to know that there kids are playing and interacting with other children whilst being cared for by trained professionals.

RT: What inspired you to start your business?

KB: When I had my son Luca I worked in production and it was so hard to find reliable, flexible childcare that was decent.  I saw a huge gap in childcare for parents who may not need care all of the time but needed a reliable place some of the time.

RT: Any advice for new business owners just getting started?

KB: Don’t think too much about it, just get in and get it done.  I opened our first center on a shoestring in 2009.  Since then we have opened our second center and relocated our Pearl location to a much larger and more modern space.  The other thing is to surround yourself with supportive people, it helps to have great staff and great support.  It’s tough going but at the end of the day you know it is yours!

RT: Can you give us one tip for balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood?

KB: Set aside time for you, for your family and your child/children and make sure when you are spending time with them that you are focused.  Get rid of the phone and any distractions and spend quality time together.

RT: What is your proudest moment as a business owner or parent?

KB: There are a couple of standouts, one was being profiled in Portland Monthly magazine as a feature rainmaker article and the other more recent one was being featured on the front of the Oregonian.  It’s great to see childcare coming of age and being in sync with what society needs these days.  I’m super proud that we are playing a huge role in that and that I’m doing my part to help raise the kids of our future.  But most importantly I am super proud to be Luca’s mum and waking up and seeing his beautiful face everyday.

RT: Is there a special offer you’d like to include for Red Tricycle readers?

KB: Yes—25% off a membership in either of our locations.

Intrigued by WeVillage? Follow this Totally Awesome business on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.