Updated: Jan 14, 2019
When you interact with Leigh Roberson-Aberle, you see a busy bumblebee gathering precious pollen.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Leigh grew-up an only child raised by her mom and step-father. In her Christian home, she internalized at an early age that God would be her compass. She was taught and encouraged to give to others less fortunate than her.
When Leigh was six, her family began a series of moves across the country. Before she was thirteen years old, she lived in six different states. Perhaps it was the stress of moving frequently or just an inevitable future, her parents divorced when she was thirteen. “Looking back now, I understand that the disruption of frequent moves, although uncomfortable, gifted me with a wish for stability. I wish that carried over into my adult life, moving me to help families create the most secure environments possible,” Leigh explains.
Finally, one last move was like a stepping stone to Leigh's future, because it led her and her mother to settle in Charlotte. Married to Max Aberle, and mother to Hamilton the cat, she has planted secure roots in the families of our community.
People of CLT is excited to bring you Leigh’s answers to our questions. We especially enjoy those on helping humanity and families.
What is your educational history?
Well, I was twenty and not sure of what direction my life was going to take until I discovered a book The Unusual Suspects by Stephen Baldwin. It changed everything. The story-line captivated me. The author compares his new life of faith to jumping out of an airplane without a parachute and asks the reader to jump with him. I couldn’t get it out of my head. It is like a Hallmark movie, even though it makes you cry, you just have to tune in! My mother, recognizing the impact of the book as a signpost in my life, seized the chance to point me in the direction of a ministry school in Los Angeles, The Dream Center School of Leadership.
Los Angeles is a long way from Charlotte. As a twenty year old young woman who had never left home, were you ready to travel so far away?
I was scary, but, the last bit of doubt in my heart was erased when I learned that the school was located in Los Angeles. I had a youthful wanderlust with the city. And a big dream to be a nanny to the stars!
Did you become a nanny to a famous family?
I connected with a wonderful family! How funny that I fulfilled my starry-eyed dream while at a school with the name dream in it. This special family partnered with the Dream Center to film music videos. They invited me to babysit their children during filming. Through this experience, I learned that all families have universal needs and desires.
Describe your experience at the Dream Center School of Leadership:
It was the perfect fit! The center encouraged students to support the local Los Angeles community. They welcomed my giving spirit with open arms and I loved the experience of it! They had strong connections to affiliated volunteer groups like Red Eye. It offered up the chance to volunteer and to develop humanitarian events to lift up the city. To this day, the volunteer memory that I cherish most is The Mother’s Day Makeover event. The Mother’s Day Makeover initiative served women living on Skid Row. I like to think that we helped these women bring forth their inner beauty. It was at this point, feeling the need to bring all of my experiences back home, I returned to the queen city. Here I continued my education by enrolling in CPCC and UNCC.
When did you embark into entrepreneurship?
In 2015, I established my first business called, The Littles Nanny Agency. Leading up to launching my first business, I was pouring myself into being a full-time nanny. Although I loved the family who I was working for, I fell victim to nanny burnout. It was a tough time in my life. But, the silver-lining is that I took this time for reflection. I asked myself, “Could the industry create even better family/nanny partnerships?” The answer was yes. I wanted to bridge this gap. So, passionate to make the most fruitful placements, The Littles Nanny Agency got up and running!
When did Family First Travel Nannies happen?
Well, I am here to share with you that solo entrepreneurship is a huge mountain to climb. I was struggling to get The Little Nanny Agency on track with a full-time flow of clients. On a particularly rough day, when I was burdened with self-doubt, I received a phone call from the owner of a local nanny agency hopeful to hire me. She had an immediate need for a director of marketing & community relations. Weighing the decision to put my business on hold was agonizing. In the end, the choice was clear, I put my dream on hold to take the job.
At the time it felt like a failure. But, as I eased into my interim role, my spirts were lifted by a waterfall of interesting projects; like managing social media and execution for events like, National Nanny Training Day—a nationwide event that celebrates the nanny! The day also offers a platform where professional nannies get educated, helping them to stay on top of their game. The successful kick-off to this event and others like it were valuable experiences that up leveled my skills. Much to my satisfaction, that agonizing decision turned out to be the best one. Also, my role gave me access to talk with hundreds of parents. It provided a parent focus group for me: learning of a need, expressed over and over, for temporary and traveling nannies. So, confident to fill this marketplace niche and with the depth of experience I now had, I founded Family First Travel Nannies in 2017.
Can you share with People of CLT readers how a young professional gets a business off the ground successfully?
My advice is not to skip the pre-work. This is a step I neglected the first go around. Together, with a carefully selected team, and in sweatpants along with coffee brewing, I sat down to brainstorm the company's mission statement and tactics. Staying focused on the mission to serve families, and hopeful for financial freedom, I pushed through the brainstorming session to reach a launching pad. Going from concept to client happened quickly for the business and overall it has been such a fulfilling experience! On the other hand, I don’t want to mislead anyone reading this article. With the joy comes struggle in equal measure. Especially in the beginning. Juggling finances, pushing to learning, smart time-management, and effective promotion gets intense. It is a rollercoaster of testing the marketplace, succeeding, failing and then succeeding again.
Why didn’t you give up?
When your passion is greater than your fear you just keep going.
Connecting the best nanny/manny with the right family is a complex task.
How do you get it right?
We aren’t just looking for a good resume. The art is found in our company values like integrity, humility, and excellent communication. We strive to support our people so they can be the best professionals in the marketplace. There's a science to it in that we require certifications like CPR, car seat safety, and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death) awareness, along with identifying skills, qualifications and connecting the right personalities to create winning partnerships for families. With 13 years of experience, my intuition meter is high!
Your career sounds more like a vocation. Along with a desire to help others, is there anything else that drives you?
Not knowing my biological father, and as I mentioned, moving many times during my childhood, I remember intense feelings of insecurity. With each move came the process of making new friends and trying to connect with an unfamiliar community. I became hesitant to express myself to other people and found solace from this emotion in the sanctuary of my bedroom. There, I used journaling, and writing musical lyrics, to express what was on my mind. Every time my pen touched the pages of my journal I felt secure. Remembering my childhood, I work to give every child a journal or pathway to their voice.
What do you want readers to know about your company?
That we are not only a travel nanny company. We are capable of accepting all placements; including but not limited to temporary, long-term, and summer nannies. Along with excellent nannies, my company delivers household managers and newborn specialists for the tired parent. Whether you prefer a manny or nanny, we will match your needs with the best professional for your family.
What is at the top of your list to accomplish in 2018?
My company places nannies with families across the United States. The majority of our placements are on the East Coast. It is funny that we are based in Charlotte and the greatest percentage of my business falls outside of the city. Growing our presence in Charlotte is job one in 2018!
Words of wisdom:
“At times it may feel awkward and even scary, but through adversity you will receive the wisdom to overcome. I have witnessed my growth over the past year toward a rock solid foundation, and I know you can grow and overcome all things in your life.”
What is a metaphor that applies to your life?
A day in my life is like that of the bumble bee. Flying from flower to flower, diligently pollinating the most valuable of nature’s community, children.
Interview by Darla Desiderio, author of The Gage Series