Marin SBDC

CreArt Preschool

“Working with the Marin SBDC is the best business decision I made. I would have paid thousands of dollars to get this support but it was all free. This allowed me to successfully start my preschool on a shoe-string budget.”

All Client Stories

From a young age, Patricia Van Der Beek, Owner of CreArt Preschool, dreamed of starting a preschool. Everything she did in her life was focused on making this dream a reality. Originally from Brazil, she came to the U.S. to learn English as she knew that would be important for her to achieve her dream. In 2015, with the help of Marin SBDC, Patricia was able to turn her dream into reality. CreArt Preschool is a childcare center that operates year-round offering full childcare services and exemplary educational opportunities for children ranging from 0 to 5 years of age.


CreArt Preschool believes that teaching and learning occur through hands-on experience — moving from concrete experiences to more abstract learning concepts. The school’s collaborative and playful environment promotes cognitive development, creative thinking, physical growth, social and emotional development, and language and communication skills through positive relationships and interactions with teachers, peers, families, and the community.

In 2018, Patricia Van Der Beek was awarded the prestigious Center Director of the Year by the Marin Child Care Council.


Once Patricia received notice she would be able to use a space in Marin with a good rent deal, she came to the Marin SBDC for support to make sure she was able to set up her business appropriately and get the licensing needed for a preschool. She had limited resources to start this business and she had to move fast in order to have students enroll as quickly as possible to make it all feasible. She needed help figuring out how to get her systems started, how to budget, track her expenses, manage her finances, create a strategy for success, hire people and get all the required paperwork submitted to be awarded a preschool license. It was a steep learning curve, but she was ready for the challenge. 

Game Plan

Patricia Van Der Beek initially started working with SBDC Advisor Robert Toering on developing her plan and strategy. Robert helped her create a tracking system for her finances and projections so she could understand how to manage her business. These financial documents were critical to the success of her preschool licensing submittal. Although she took many courses, she was not clear how to manage all the specifics for her own business. Robert helped her create a foundation to start her business and quickly bring in students. After 2.5 months in business, she was able to pay all her expenses and hire someone!

Since she had limited resources, Patricia took woodworking classes, so she could make her own furniture and refurbish garage sale furniture. She found ways to do exchanges when she didn’t have the funds. She learned how to do her own website and created on in a week. 

“In only 2.5 months after opening my doors, I was able to pay my expenses and bring on my first helper. I’m so grateful for all the guidance and assistance from the SBDC.”

Patricia van der beek, owner, creart preschool

After being in business a year and a half, she realized she needed help with HR. Therefore, she started working with SBDC Advisor Chana Anderson to help her understand the rules and regulations for hiring employees and how she could start providing benefits to her workers. Chana helped Patricia create policies and benefits for an employee handbook, an employee package including job descriptions, a better sign-in and sign-out process for the employees, and helped her figure out all the legal paperwork to have for employees.  

After working with Chana, Patricia realized she needed help figuring out her next steps for growth and so worked with SBDC Advisor John DeGaetano on her financial budgeting, projections, and managing her growth. 


  • In only 2.5 months after first starting, she was able to pay all her expenses and hire her first helper
  • Currently has 3 employees (and looking to hire)
  • Expanded into a bigger space where she has two classrooms, outdoor area, sleeping area and a garden
  • Steadily grown and has a waiting list now
  • Has been able to maintain child to teacher ratio of 1 to 4  as she has grown
  • Received awards: selected as one of 5 classrooms in all of Marin County to be part of a special training program through Marin Quality Counts and is the 2018 Center Director of the Year by Marin Child Care Council
  • Received grants from Wholefoods and Marin Child Care Council to help with bringing in specific health and wellness projects to her childcare programs and build an outdoor deck for her outside education program

Learn More about CreArt Preschool