Today we’d like to introduce you to Lydia Brown.
Lydia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My entire life I have known that I wanted to work with children. I grew up in a large family with several younger siblings, and I spent my summers babysitting the neighborhood kids. This passion leads me to work as a full-time nanny after graduating high school so I could save money for college tuition.
That job is probably what truly lead me to open Chicago Collegiate Nannies (CCN). I was working from 8-6:00 pm for a newborn and 3-year-old in the suburbs of Chicago and attending junior college at night. After 2 years, I transferred to UIC downtown and finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. After graduating, I stopped nannying and began to follow what I felt was the “adult path” by getting a job in finance. After working at Citigroup and later a commodities manager at the Board of Trade for 5 years, I realized that I didn’t feel fulfilled or happy at work and needed to make a change.
I started Chicago Collegiate Nannies with a simple website and by rallying the families that I had worked for previously to help me spread the word. I wanted to hire nannies who were college-educated, energetic, and adaptable to the modern family’s needs. Thankfully, we soon learned there is a huge market for this in Chicago and CCN had a fresh new concept. We have been in business for 3 years this May, and are opening our second location next month in Boston, MA.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like any small business, we had our struggles in the beginning. We hired the wrong people, mismanaged marketing efforts, and devoted too much time to things that didn’t ultimately matter.
Things turned a corner when I finally reached out to hire a consultant who owned and operated two highly successful nanny agencies in the South. She had incredible advice, an empathetic ear, and challenged me in areas where she knew my team could improve.
Outside of that, I think many entrepreneurs face financial challenges in their first few years of business and that was never the case for us (thankfully). I largely attribute that to my finance background and conservative nature. We were all too aware that most businesses fail within the first few years, and did not want to add to the statistics.
We still have our share of challenges today (some of which may come to light as we open our new Boston location), but I have an incredible team behind me and that makes all the difference.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Chicago Collegiate Nannies – what should we know?
Chicago Collegiate Nannies is an enhanced nanny placement agency that specializes in placing college-educated nannies with busy, professional families. Our team recruits, screens, and trains our nannies through our unique Savvy Sitters class before connecting them with families in Chicago and the suburbs.
As the owner, I am most proud of my team’s rigorous screening approach while respecting an accelerated timeline for placement. Many clients call us in a panic because their current nanny has resigned without notice and need to find a quality solution in a timely manner. I am thankful to have a big enough team that we are able to accommodate requests like this more often than not while still adhering to recruiting only the top nanny candidates.
The two main differences between CCN and it’s competitors are the fact that all of our nannies are college-educated and that we train them through our Savvy Sitters class. The ability to provide academic enrichment and homework help is so important to many of our clients and the Savvy Sitters class removes a lot of the headache of on-boarding a new nanny.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Any successful business owner that tells you they got to where they did on their own is lying. In fact, I think the secret to running a thriving business is asking for help and realizing your own weaknesses. As mentioned earlier, we would not be where we are today without the help of my business consultant and my team.
The women on my team at CCN are absolutely incredible. They are dedicated, incredibly hard-working, and reliable. We share a passion for quality childcare and are relentless in the pursuit of our mission to provide clients with a better type of caregiver. My team understands start-up mentality and the value of building a company we are proud of. We work long hours, don’t cut corners that sacrifice quality, and believe wholeheartedly in the service that we provide.
Further, I have always believed in hiring people who have strengths in areas I don’t. I have a business background, Samantha has a psychology background, Katelyn is a licensed teacher, and Tara is a social media guru. I will continue to take the same approach as we hire our team for Boston.
- Full-Time Placement of 30 hours per week and above $3,200
- Part-Time Placement of 1-29 hours per week $1,900
- Address: 655 W. Irving Park Rd. Chicago, IL 60613
- Website: www.chicagocollegiatenannies.com
- Phone: (630) 615-0048
- Email: Lydia@chicagocollegiatenannies.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chicagocollegiatenannies
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/chicago-collegiate-nannies-chicago
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