Danielle DaCosta is a 24 year old who is wasting no time while completing her studies at the University of New Mexico. She happens to also be the owner and administrator of a senior assisted living center, Enchanted Living, which she opened up earlier this year in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Differentiating from nursing homes, assisted living facilities include on-site nurses who provide a variety of services for the seniors on a daily basis. While there are numerous options for seniors upon retirement, there is often not enough nurses present at these facilities, leaving less one-on-one care for the actual patient. Danielle wanted to break away from the system and start her own center to make sure that patients are getting the daily care and attention that they truly need and deserve. Femme & Fortune was inspired by her story that we had to find out more. Read below as Danielle shares with us her accomplishments, lessons learned, and goals for the future.
Femme & Fortune: Give us a little background of yourself. How did you develop your passion for helping care for others, specifically the senior population?
Danielle: A few years ago I became a caregiver because I have always deeply empathized with people in need. My grandparents helped raised me and as they got older, and I knew I wanted to help the senior population in a big way. That is how Enchanted Living of New Mexico was born. (www.EnchantedLivingNM.com)
Femme & Fortune: What made you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own center? How does it differ from the rest in the industry?
Danielle: I previously worked in a few large assisted living facilities, and I liked the concept of helping multiple people but felt I could improve the level of care. Large facilities can have anywhere from 15 beds to 100 beds similar to a hospital. Within this industry, caregivers or nurses are overworked. Caring for multiple people at a time can become a stressful workplace very quickly, which in turn can make your clients nervous or stressed. I decided to open a Residential Assisted Living model, which provides a high level of comfort and one-on-one care. We have a 1:3 staff to resident ratio at Enchanted Living of New Mexico. This enables us to grow deep relationships and trust with our residents, as well as gives us the opportunity to care for them in an efficient and completely stress free environment. I crave comfort and stability for my residents. I also crave a place where people can call home and somewhere families are proud to move their family members into. I am very proud to say Enchanted Living of New Mexico is an honest representation of what type of care I would want for my own grandparents.
Femme & Fortune: What is your favorite part of the job?
Danielle: Getting to know my residents. Hearing about their previous lives and stories is so endearing. It is a daily reminder that we cannot judge a book by its cover and we do not know what other people are going through and have gone through in the past.
Femme & Fortune: What has been your toughest lesson in starting and managing the business?
Danielle: Patience. When we first started, I assumed if I called someone to discuss an application or a licensing question they would be punctual and get back to me within the day. Not the case. I have had to learn to be very patient and not plan my days around waiting for someone to call me back.
Danielle: The biggest accomplishment so far would have to be receiving my official Operator’s License through the NM Department of Health. Holding that piece of paper meant all the hard work we put in, all late nights, constant brainstorming and the stress was worth it. I am 24 years old and getting that paper was one of the most rewarding days of my life so far.
Femme & Fortune: What is one piece of advice that you always strive to live up to?
Danielle: My parents have always told me to be positive and put God first. After that everything else that is supposed to happen will fall into place. When things get tough, I try remembering that.
Femme & Fortune: You’re still finishing up school at the University of New Mexico while working full time, which can certainly be draining. How do you manage to stay on top of everything?
Danielle: It is draining at times. But I am constantly moving forward and trying to think about the end goal of an eventual Doctorate. I have a good support system that helps me during the week with tasks and they also push me when I need I need motivation. I also keep an organized planner and notebook in my purse – I would be lost without it. I figure I’m young and have the energy so now is the perfect time to focus on school and work
Femme & Fortune: What do you have planned for in the next 5 years?
Danielle: Living life to fullest everyday, spending more time with my family and friends as well as stabilizing my company and building an empire.
Femme & Fortune: Do you have any hidden talents or passions that most people don’t know about?
Danielle: Another passion of mine is handmade jewelry design. I have an online handmade jewelry company called Anya Urban Boutique. I make earrings, necklaces, rings and some body products. Making jewelry is second nature to me now and it is how I relax. I love purchasing raw materials like glass, stones and wire and transforming them into functional jewelry. I try to make 15 new pieces every season and release them onto my website or sell them at local craft shows. It’s really a great feeling seeing someone around town wearing a piece from Anya Urban!
Femme & Fortune: What’s your guilty pleasure for when you are not working/studying?
Danielle: My guilty pleasure is cuddling with my dogs.
Femme & Fortune: Any last words you would like to share with our readers?
Danielle: Don’t rely on other people to make you happy. Do that for yourself.
Thanks so much to Danielle for sharing her story here at Femme & Fortune! For more information on Enchanted Living, visit the site here. Also, make sure to check out Danielle’s handmade jewelry company Anya Urban Boutique here.
Photos provided by Danielle DaCosta