For Creatives on the Road With Kids, ChARTerNannies Is A Godsend
Singer and multi-instrumentalist Kori Gardner knows a little something about pouring one of her passions into a fledgling venture and turning it into something popular, enduring, profitable, and fulfilling: She and singer-drummer (and husband) Jason Hammel did it with their long-running indie-pop duo Mates of State (pictured above), which plays two shows at Mercury Lounge tonight (6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.).
These days, Gardner -- along with three partners -- is doing it again with another project, although this one's not about music: It's the traveling nanny agency, ChARTer Nannies.
The idea is simple: Touring musicians who want to bring their kids out on the road need a nanny to travel with them and look after their little ones 24/7 while they're playing shows, enduring interviews, and handling all the other responsibilities of the job. And while there are tons of nannies out there, not every nanny is suited for that kind of work.
Enter ChARTer Nannies, which is basically a matchmaking service for a client who pays a fee to be linked up with the perfect nanny. They've done it for the Flaming Lips, Claudia Gonson of the Magnetic Fields, and scores of artists both major label and indie who prefer to remain anonymous out of privacy concerns. They've also done it for non-musicians like NASCAR icon Jeff Gordon and various models, photographers, actors, writers, and other touring creatives.
"Most nanny agencies out there are like, 'Sign up and you'll get to look through all the nannies in this book' and it's not a personal matching thing, and that's the thing that we pride ourselves on doing," says Gardner. "We ask a million questions [of the client], down to like, 'Is your kid a vegetarian? Does your kid watch TV?' and we screen all the nannies and find out what they're about." After coming up with a potential match, the client interviews the nanny, and if everyone vibes, the contracts are signed and the nanny hits the road for a set period of time to care for the client's kids. "We realize there's so many kinds of parenting and lifestyles and just picking a nanny out of a hat isn't something we wanna have happen," says Gardner.
Gardner's joined in the venture by Kristin Perry (a long-time nanny, vintage clothier, and mom who lives outside Philadelphia), Erin Abbott (a nanny, photographer, and boutique owner based in Oxford, Mississippi), and Julia Knapp (a denizen of Los Angeles, she handles wardrobe for the kids TV program Yo Gabba Gabba! and the show's traveling stage production, and has worked as Mates of State's touring nanny).
ChARTer Nannies formed two years ago after Perry, who had come up with an idea for such an agency several years ago, met Knapp through a mutual friend, discovered that Gardner and Abbott had been tossing around a similar idea for a while, and proposed that they all meet up and join forces. "None of us could do this without the others -- we work as a team," says Perry. "None of us is willing to give up our other lives, so Kori can still do Mates of State, I can do Snowbird Vintage, Erin has her store, and Julia does Yo Gabba, and we can still make this work and grow."