Sandra Foster & Shantelle Soto are inspired by their goal to not let autism and other related disabilities hold back children in any way.
They found a huge gap in services for children with autism and other related disabilities in Victoria when Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health closed their Autism program.
They realized how crucial it was to continue to provide such programs in the community and decided to do something about it. Five years ago, they started Stepping Stones Therapy in Victoria.
Their business provides children diagnosed with autism, and other related disabilities a place where they can learn and grow into well rounded individuals. They offer consulting, intervention, life skills classes and social skills classes for children of all ages.
They have a team of highly trained behavior interventionists, consultants and clinicians. They currently have 14 staff.
1. What services has Women’s Enterprise Centre provided you and how have these services helped you?
Sandra: Women’s Enterprise Centre provided us with a loan to help grow our business. We moved to a new and much bigger location in January 2015 and required a lot of new equipment and supplies. Providing us with this loan has been the cornerstone to our success!
2. What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
Shantelle: Working with children with disabilities, teaching skills and helping their families is my passion! When we realized the crucial need for these services after the closure of the Queen Alexandra program, we didn’t hesitate.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you learned when starting your business?
Sandra: There’s no need to reinvent the wheel! Others have done this before you! Ask questions, get advice and hire professionals to help you.
4. What are your goals for the business?
Shantelle: My goals for the business are to grow big enough that we can be of help to as many kids as we can while staying small enough to still provide the excellent service that we are so well known for within the autism community.
5. What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur?
Sandra: My greatest strength is knowing and trusting who to build my business with.
6. What personal lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
Shantelle: I have learned that success is relative to how hard you are willing to work and how big you are willing to dream!