Katie Lewis is the enthusiastic and kid savvy founder & CEO of Strollers and Stilettos®. She started out her career as an elementary education teacher and also a nanny. During her time as a nanny and household manager for busy professionals in Chicago, she began to notice a pattern among all of her families: they needed help managing the many aspects that come along with having kids. She realized there was an opportunity to serve a niche clientele who never seemed to have enough time to do it all. That’s how Strollers and Stilettos® was born!
Not only does Katie run Strollers and Stilettos®, but she also finds time to volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Illinois. In the past she’s participated as a wish granter, granting wishes to kids with life-threatening medical conditions. And we know you’ll love her just as much as we do!
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
My degree is in elementary education and after graduating I began my career as a teacher, and soon after became a professional nanny. While working as a nanny and executive household manager in Chicago, I started to notice that all of the families needed assistance with managing the many aspects that came along with having children — whether it was the anticipation of the arrival of a baby, designing a nursery, finding the perfect preschool or school, or hiring and managing the most qualified nannies, I was always able to find a solution and simplify their lives.That led me to come up with the “parent concierge” business plan for Strollers and Stilettos®.
What has been one of the most rewarding aspects of your job?
Seeing the difference we make in both our clients and candidates lives. There is nothing more rewarding than having a candidate tell me how happy they are with their family and having clients inform me of how much happier their home is with our domestic placement and/or how simplified their life is from our assistance. It’s the best feeling in the world and the main reason I am so passionate about my business.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced within your business?
At the beginning, we struggled with figuring out what marketing strategy worked best for our brand. We discovered through trial and error that word of mouth referral is what gets us the most business. Our services are personal, so people turn to their family and friends for recommendations. Chicago is a very tight knit community, and word of mouth quickly became our main source for marketing.
Our domestic staffing agency is quickly growing across the country through word of mouth as well – It’s powerful based on the services we provide. The Scout Guide has also been great marketing for us. We see TSG on coffee tables in our client’s homes throughout the year and it can be purchased at many events in Chicago that our clientele attend.
What are your favorite play spots in Chicago or the US for kids?
I absolutely love Montgomery Park located in River North. It’s right on the river walk and has a huge play area that is perfect for kids. The Museum of Science and Industry is another one of my favorites – I believe in engaging kids with activities that are hands-on, educational and fun. We have some of the best museums in Chicago, so I love taking advantage when time allows!
What are some of your favorite brands and/or products you recommend to new moms?
The Honest Co. is one of my favorites – They created not only effective, but unquestionably safe, eco-friendly, attractive, convenient and affordable products that our clients love. There are also many local brands that we frequently recommend – Babies4Babies, Monica & Andy, Drizzle Kitchen and Madison & Rayne are a few that I am totally obsessed with right now!
What advice can you give a new mom looking to hire outside help?
My biggest piece of advice is take the time to find the right candidate. You want someone working in your home and around your kids that is the right fit for your family long term, which can take time to find. Many parents don’t really take the time to get to know their candidates and ensure it is the right fit prior to making an offer. The importance of having domestic staff that have similar values, work ethic, communication, philosophies, etc. is key since it will have such an impact on your family and children’s daily lives.
One of the reasons why our service is so convenient is because we make the whole process efficient and easy for parents to save them time – our view is “quality over quantity.” If you aren’t looking to hire an agency, I suggest really getting to know potential candidates and making sure they are a good fit for both the parents and kids.
What is your favorite, easy, go-to recipe?
I am vegetarian – Gazpacho is one of my favorites that always sounds delicious! Get the recipe here.