Cafe Au Play

Cafe Au Play
Kelly Tregillus and her mother-in-law, Liza Tregillus, are the co-founders of Durango Café au Play (DCAP). DCAP is a non-profit organization (NPO) that offers co-working space and childcare for new and expecting parents in a family friendly ‘café’ environment. Parents with young children are provided a space to work, socialize and attend parenting classes. DCAP provides a support system for moms and dads who feel disconnected and isolated at home.

Kelly relocated from San Francisco in 2016, with her husband Nathan and nine month old daughter, to be closer to her in-laws. There were only a few networks in La Plata County for new mothers that offered parenting classes and social outlets. Nor could she get her daughter into a childcare center without being on a wait list. This affected her quality of life. Liza had a similar experience when her family came to Durango in the mid-1980’s.

Kelly had a business background. She received a business administration degree from Fort Lewis College (FLC) and worked in the informational technology sector. Liza was a social worker and child play therapist. Her strengths were with people. Together, they discussed the idea to create a co-working space that met the needs of new parents. The traditional co-working model provides independent professionals a shared work space where people come to work on their own projects. The work space offers internet access, a site to network, and rooms to conduct business with clients. Durango currently has two co-working establishments, but neither offer childcare onsite.

Liza had known about the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FLC when she worked at the San Juan Basin Health Department. Liza frequently referred families who wanted to open a business to them. In April 2017, Kelly and Liza spoke with SBDC’s Liz Cook to seek advisement on how to proceed with their idea. Liz told them about the Leading Edge (LE) program. The LE class is designed for entrepreneurs having the intention to move from a business idea towards a completed and viable business plan. Each class covers a different topic (ie. marketing, sales) and presents a guest speaker, for a total of ten weeks. The LE instructors were Jasper Welch and Terryl Peterson. Jasper is the owner of Durango Space, one of the co-working businesses in town. Kelly said, “That made sense from a networking perspective to work with him, so I registered for the class.”

Kelly attended the program with a business plan outline. Kelly stated, “What was most helpful was the class helped me refine our vision. They helped me uncover what DCAP’s focus was and what we were trying to solve. In the beginning, Liza and I weren’t sure whether to register as a business or NPO, but LE walked us through each scenario.” As the program commenced, Kelly enjoyed the comradery amongst her classmates.

Outside of the classroom, Kelly met with Jasper and Terryl separately. Jasper helped to dial in her vision. Terryl provided insight on their budget and what resources were available to them. Terryl also asked what assumptions the business would need to make in terms of expenses and cost of goods sold as an NPO. Kelly and Liza also met with the Community Foundation (CF) and inquired about fiscal sponsorship. For a fee, CF would manage administrative aspects such as quarterly reporting and payroll. Liza added, “The Community Foundation was very impressed with the detail of our financial model and business plan. That was a credit to SBDC.”

Kelly completed the LE program in July. To date, Durango Café au Play operates from two locations; a free baby/parent meetup at Durango’s Unitarian Universalist church, and in the Nifty Nanny room at the Smiley Building. “There is a lot of interest. Attendance at play groups is growing along with new Facebook followers each week.” Kelly and Liza will be fundraising when a permanent café location surfaces. Both Kelly and Liza said the LE program is a very accelerated course. “If SBDC were not there, it’s likely Durango Café au Play would still be just a dream.”