Ask any business owner or entrepreneur about important traits for success and patience isn't always the first thought they'll have. However, a firm commitment and keeping one's focus on the goal would be.
For Revere Street resident Kathy Zabicki, all three of those traits are paying off on Tuesday when she opens her Goddard School in Clinton—13 years after buying the franchise.
"Sometimes, the best things take a little time," she said, downplaying the long road to opening her school took after she gave up her chair in the Creations Hairstyling salon she owned in Somerville with an eye towards building her own early education business.
It all started when she met the owner of Hillsborough's Goddard School franchise, Susan Hoy, who was a regular client for Zabicki at her salon.
"Just through our friendship, we started talking about Goddard," Zabicki said.
Zabicki has long thought about child care and education business opportunities, so a little encouragement from Hoy was all it took for her to make the deposit on a Goddard franchise of her own.
In preparation, she cut back on her hairstyling work, enrolled on college and earned a bachelor's in Early Childhood Education—then began working at her friend's Goddard School.
Where she's been a teacher and administrative helper until recently as the new state-of-the-art school was nearing completion.
She said most of the delay focused on location—she was committed to staying in the Bridgewater area, and knew Clinton would be a good market, but finding a suitable location became problematic.
"New Jersey is a difficult place to find property anywhere," she said, noting Goddard Schools are careful about site selection. Numerous locations were tried, but it wasn't until a wooded lot on North Route 31—just a few hundred feet north of Route 22 and I-78—was found that zoning, accessibility and other factors aligned and the work began.
Standing in the entrance of her school, in front of a large mural of a scene from "The Great Kapok Tree" by Lynne Cherry that Zabicki called on her mother, sisters, daughters, nieces and a nephew to help paint, Zabicki can now be a little more philosophical about her journey back into business ownership.
"There were times along the way that I thought I might need to change my plans," she said. "But deep in my heart—no. I knew this was what I wanted to do.
"I think all of it has been a lesson to me," she added.
The school officially opens Tuesday with about 24 students enrolled, but has room to accommodate as many as 132. The school features pint-sized playgrounds, gym equipment and offers a preschool curriculum that includes foreign language, reading, writing, math and science skills, as well as physical fitness, yoga, dance, art and music lessons. The school will eventually include a kindergarten enrichment program linked to the Clinton schools' own kindergarten lessons.