The Nanny League's Founder on Why She Left Her Hollywood Dream Job to Help Families
Photos: The Nanny League
Before founding The Nanny League, Lindsay Aspell Thomason had the dream job coveted by entertainment industry insider hopefuls. From working with high-profile filmmakers and handling talent to becoming a public relations pro, Thomason learned to wear many hats during her time at NBC Universal and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Despite the enviable whirlwind career in Hollywood, Thomason realized her real passion was born during her time spent as a babysitter and nanny — which is why she went from the world of "I'll have my people call your people" to answering parents' calls for talented childcare pros.
"I had an amazing job and career, and yet I wasn’t living for myself; I wasn’t there for the right reasons but I needed to figure that out for myself," Thomason tells us. After quitting her full-time job, Thomason decided to clear her head in her hometown of Philadelphia: when she returned to LA she accepted a temp position at the Weinstein Company and was later offered the job full-time. Unsure of her next step, a friend suggested that Thomason parlay her experiences in childcare and the entertainment industry as a celebrity nanny. Instead, she decided to answer a Craigslist ad for a nanny on a whim — which eventually led her to start her business matching families with professional college-educated nannies.
Seven years later, Thomason has expanded The Nanny League's services from California to Texas (where she recently relocated), New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In addition to partnering with Stop the Silence, Thomason teamed with the nonprofit organization to develop an online training course that helps nannies identify and report child sexual abuse — in fact, the curriculum is mandatory for those who work for her agency.
Below, read on to hear more of Thomason's story, what sets the Nanny League apart from online babysitter booking services, what parents and nannies alike should know before working together, and more.
Located in LA? The agency is hosting its second annual Mommy's Night Out event this week to benefit Stop the Silence. Happening Thursday, October 19 from 7 to 9pm at WeVillage in Sherman Oaks, the soiree will enjoy pampering, live music, light bites and drinks, mingling, and more. Tickets are $35; buy them online here.
What inspired you to leave the entertainment industry to found The Nanny League?
My main passion has always been kids [and eventually] I left my full-time job and went home for a couple weeks [...] to my hometown outside of Philadelphia. When I was offered a full-time position at the Weinstein Company I thought, "There's no way in hell this is happening again!" A friend [even] tried to convince me to become a celebrity nanny. I literally went on Craigslist and answered an ad that was in Holmby Hills for a high-profile family and ended up getting the job, and I worked for a year and a half as their live-in nanny and another year and a half as a live-out nanny.
One day after dropping their little girl off at school I had my "Oprah 'a-ha' moment." I was literally driving past UCLA and decided, "I’m going to start an agency of college-educated nannies. I wrote a "treatment" on a napkin, did my research, and realized that it didn’t exist.
I [discovered] the role that I was able to play in this household and that it was really needed. I was taking care of every single other person in the household. They weren’t able to drive [here] and it was things that I never new existed that made me discover the hierarchy within the hierarchy. [I saw] first-hand [...] that other parents out there might be thinking, "We need a Lindsay" — Someone who has that college degree [that allows them] to communicate well with teachers or doctors, able to drive, to help in each stage of their kids' development.
I enrolled UCLA extension business classes at night. It was there that everyone catapulted and snowballed into where I am now. I founded The Nanny League in October 2010, and it’s been a crazy, amazing ride and so rewarding.
What sets The Nanny League apart from other companies, like online babysitter booking services?
Everything — it’s such a personalized matchmaking experience. I will tell the families exactly what don’t want to hear. We listen to every little detail, I’m not going to just send you a 100 resumes to inundate your inbox. It’s such a huge screening process just to be represented by us [as a nanny]; you need CPR certification, for example. They could work for the government based on [our strict screening process]! It’s just having someone to be your agent and do the dirty work for you. The online services don’t do that for you. It’s very meticulous and personalized.
If I wouldn’t want to work for the client, [then we won't take them on] — it works both ways. Really, my heart is in [building] successful relationships. We don’t want the turnover, you want someone that’s going to be there.
What were some of the stories you heard from clients who had frustrating experiences seeking qualified nannies before they found you?
[Many parents] experience a lot of flakiness with nannies— if you want a nanny to treat this as a career, you have to give them a package that’s like any other job: They’re either getting paid sick days, holidays, payroll. Legally in California, [they need to be on a] W-2 and they’re supposed to be on payroll and get a certain amount of breaks. A lot of nannies don’t know and they get taken advantage of. I've heard nightmare stories of nannies suing families for getting their taxes. We’ve heard stories that [families] didn’t do the background checks or the driving record check.
There’s been so many different nightmare stories that it just comes down to them not doing the right due diligence or not understanding the laws, or what boxes they should be checking before hiring someone and having that right team. Going through an agency such as us, we have the legal team, we have payroll, even a nanny psychologist to help them make this relationship as strong and professional as possible and just be seamless from the beginning.
As far as their kids' growth and development, what can parents expect when hiring a nanny from the Nanny League?
It’s so important to know what you don’t want with your children — What is really important to you? Do you want to prioritize [finding a nanny who] speaks another language, someone who skis, or do you want someone from Harvard, for instance? The majority of our candidates have a background in child development, or teaching English as a second language, or psychology. They’re not just a professional in a work sense, but they've also been completely educated in getting their certification, being book smart on these subjects, and having really done this on an analytical level and an educational setting before an in-home setting. We have Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapists, speech pathologists, and Early Childhood Education specialists, for example. Whatever the need is, the nanny is really able to take the child to the next stage of development because they really understand each step and the process.
What are the top things parents should consider when hiring a nanny through your company?
The resume, the years of experience that they have. They should talk to their references on the phone, and you [also] want to hear how the nannies talk about their previous employers; do they light up [when speaking about them]? That’s just so telling. Doing background checks and [looking them up on] Megan's Law, and making sure they're Trust Line registered [also helps]. We do our own background check as well.
Why was it important for you to partner with Stop the Silence?
I am a survivor and I’m proud of my journey. It’s taken me years, but I am no longer silenced; I am open to talking about my experience and have become an associate on the board of Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc.
I’m really passionate to help prevent [sexual abuse] and get the perpetrators in the place where they need to be, but also help the survivors. There are so many people now suffering depression, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, [and other issues]. We have to stop the cycle. The nannies are willing to take [the online course even though] it’s probably time consuming, but it needs to be at the forefront at the conversation when dealing with kids. Our goal with this event is to not only keep this program going, but to expand it to more audiences like teachers and social workers. It needs to be mandated nationally, it just doesn’t make sense to me that it’s not.