“My husband and I both work long hours, so we needed a nanny who could put up with a demanding schedule while delivering the quality childcare every parent wants. Thankfully, we were referred to Strollers and Stilettos, because Katie found us the perfect match in Candice. She is creative, attentive, hard working, and adored by our son. They go to music class together as well as the farmer’s market. She has exceeded our expectations so far. Candice is truly a member of the family, and we are so grateful to have her!”
-Ashley R. (Mother of one in Chicago, Illinois)
Strollers and Stilettos® interviewed Candice Jacques as our highlighted nanny for the month of November. Rosie has a degree in Fashion Marketing and Management, but found her true passion caring for children. Read the full interview below!
S&S: Where did you grow up?
CJ: I’m from Olathe, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City.
S&S: Why did you end up in Chicago?
CJ: As much as I was grateful for the wide open space Kansas was able to provide I always felt like a big city person trapped in a small town. I chose Chicago because of the city, art, fashion, the enormous airport and the architecture!
S&S: What is your alma mater?
CJ: The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago.
S&S: What degree(s) do you hold?
CJ: I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Marketing & Management.
S&S: Tell me a little bit about your professional experience – What have some of your previous roles been?
CJ: When I first moved to Chicago I worked as a part-time caregiver while attending school full-time. I graduated right as the recession started and your typical 9-5 was not something I was interested in. I knew that I could teach, be around children, cook and run a household (all of the things that I love) while being a nanny/household manager so I began the interview process. I quickly found an incredible family with two darling children, that I worked with for six years. I wore many hats in that position throughout the years as our position is always changing; child care, errands, coordinating playdates and events, cooking and meal plans (including many last minute dinner parties), closet organization, schedule trips, appointments, etc.
S&S: What did you want to be when you “grew up”?
CJ: Happy! I’ve always wanted to be ridiculously happy! Career wise I thought Visual Merchandising for Ralph Lauren would be so much fun. I realized very quickly that those positions are nearly impossible to come by and if you land that position you do not leave! A desk job in an office was definitely not for me. Being a nanny affords me the opportunity to have new experiences every day while enhancing the lives of the children entrusted in my care. It is both challenging and humbling and I am constantly reminded of my role in showcasing how to live and love without fear.
S&S: Who is one person you looked up to or still look up to?
CJ: My Nan-Nan and My Mom. My Nan-Nan was my person. She was a natural caretaker for those she loved. She gave the warmest hugs and she healed my hurt in her hands. She had a way of connecting with you and helping you to understand the feelings of your heart. A skill I use when helping my nanny kids express what’s on their hearts. My Mom is the hardest working person I know. She truly has super power strength and will do anything and everything to provide for her family. I have her tenacity and determination–it’s not if but when. No doesn’t resonate with us.
S&S: Why did you decide to become a nanny, house manager, babysitter, etc.?
CJ: I have been babysitting since the age of 12, and continued to do it throughout high school. I continued with a family part-time through college and that experience showed me that working with children was truly the correct path for me. Growing up in Kansas I had no idea that there was career opportunity out there. I believe it chose me!
S&S: How long have you been in this role?
CJ: I have been with my current family for 10 months.
S&S: What is your favorite part of your current position?
CJ: My nanny kid is seriously the best! He just turned one and his smile is beyond contagious. He brings so much joy to anyone that has the pleasure of meeting him. My nanny family and I have a great relationship. They are so appreciative and thankful for everything I do and truly make me feel like part of their family. We are a three person team and I am so grateful.
S&S: Why do you enjoy working with children?
CJ: There is no other job on the planet where you are instantly greeted with genuine, beaming smiles at 6:30 in the morning! Children can always bring a smile to your face no matter what kind of a day you are having or what is going on in the world. I get to see the world through their eyes which reminds me to always be present in the moment, something I don’t always take advantage of in my personal time. They are so intuitive, innocent and smart. I just love seeing their minds work and their visions come to life.
S&S: Kids often say whatever comes to mind – Do you have a favorite line from a kiddo you previously worked with?
CJ: On a walk with Boy age three he notices someone littering and he said, “Miss Candice LOOK! That MAN just glittered on planet earth! It is not kind to glitter on planet earth!” Getting dressed the next day he says, “I’m going to wear my moon and earth shirt today Miss Candice. That way people know NOT to glitter!”
S&S: Do you want to have a family of your own someday? How many kids do you envision yourself having?
CJ: I have been with my boyfriend for nine years. He has two daughters which are my bonus kids! We do not plan on having children of our own however, life has a way of surprising you. I never say never so I can’t totally rule it out.
S&S: What are your favorite things to do with kids?
CJ: I am always up for an adventure rain or shine so we are often on the go. Some days we go to the zoo to meet a new animal, shop and sample the farmer’s market, explore museums and head to our weekly music class. We have a pretty cool crew we regularly hang out with so we’re always up to something!
S&S: What do you enjoy doing in Chicago during your personal time?
CJ: I love yoga! I recently found arial yoga and I have had so much fun getting into it. I have two Chihuahuas who are my whole world. My boyfriend and I live near the lake so long walks and beach adventures are a weekly treat. In the summer we try to attend a movie/concert in the park each week and we’re always up for trying a new restaurant.
S&S: Tell me about a day in the life of a Nanny.
CJ: My day is typically go with the flow. Since I only have one child at the time, I’m able to follow his lead and natural schedule (something I have never been able to do in previous roles as I’ve always had multiples). I typically make us breakfast around 7:00 with our fresh and seasonal finds and J loves to help wash and smell the produce. After breakfast we usually snuggle up on the couch and read a few stories or we’ll head down to the basement for a music jam session. We’re still on two naps a day so after the morning nap we typically load up the stroller and are off to meet friends for a playdate or lunch. The afternoon usually involves a craft/sensory activity- we love water play and playing in the yard!
S&S: What are some of your favorite spots in the Chicago area (i.e. museums, play cafes, restaurants, beaches)?
CJ: Lincoln Park Zoo is one of my favorites. I’ve been a regular at that zoo for the past eight years of my life– It’s practically my second home! Visiting the butterflies at the Nature Museum, music at Whole Foods, Electric Neil’s music/shopping the Green City Farmer’s Market. I love to cook so we have made some pretty great friendships with the vendors there and they’ve always got something new for us to try and experiment with. Little Beans, Bubbles and Old Town School of Folk Music are also favorites.
S&S: Where do you see yourself in five years – On a personal and/or professional level?
CJ: I adore my current family so I’m hopeful I will still be in my current role. I am committed to being in their lives as long as they need me. Perhaps I will be married by then. I believe everything happens for a reason and I’m in absolutely no rush– I’m really happy!
S&S: How did you hear about Strollers and Stilettos ™?
CJ: Through a personal referral.
S&S: What was the process like with Strollers and Stilettos™?
CJ: Easy! Katie is so professional and gifted at matchmaking. She really takes the time to make sure you’re the right fit for the family and vice versa. I worked a very crazy schedule during the interview process and like me, Katie never sleeps. She was available at the strangest hours to help me and I am so grateful! She really goes above and beyond in everything she does.
S&S: How did Strollers and Stilettos™ help you with finding a family in Chicago?
CJ: Katie is literally a matchmaker. She’s incredibly direct and straight to the point yet she truly got to know me and understand what I was looking for in a family.
S&S: Do you have any advice for families interested in hiring a nanny?
CJ: Start looking early, be patient and always trust your gut! Make sure that the nanny you hire is someone you could see yourself building a relationship with both professional and personal. It creates a team environment and makes working together much more relaxed.
S&S: Do you have any advice for candidates interested in becoming a nanny?
CJ: Be honest! Own your specific skill set and bring that to the table. Do not be afraid to be picky and know your worth. Make sure you are flexible because every single day is different and you have to be able to cater to whatever the family may need at that time. Our job is to make their lives easier and it’s ever changing.. Caring for little people is both challenging and humbling and requires you to really look at yourself. You can’t give what you don’t have so self reflection is equally as important. Really make sure working with children is your true passion because caregiving is so much more than just a paycheck.