Coffee break chat: Barbara Arthur
Business owner Barbara Arthur, 57, has been working to help children all of her life. In the UK she was a social work team manager and now in Barbados she’s the founder and Managing Director of Specialist Nannies Ltd – an elite babysitting service for residents and visitors.
Yello sat down for a coffee with Barbara to find out more about her business, what she does to relax and what she likes most about living in Barbados.
Describe yourself in three words:
Big, bold and bad.
Tell us about your business.
It started off as a project shortly after I moved to Barbados from the UK and began working as a volunteer for some child-focused organisations.
During that time I saw that there was a training gap for young people interested in childcare if they wanted to meet the demands of the international market. So I created a four-week course for young Barbadian people to teach them about the different components of childcare, especially the theoretical aspect, because it seemed that, that was undervalued.
When I rolled out the course I also started cold-calling hotels on the island, to tell them about what we were doing, and let them know that their guests with young families could make use of our students.
One young lady secured full-time employment and someone then said to me that this could be a business and I’ve not looked back since.
Specialist Nannies Ltd was launched four and a half years ago and it’s not only based on caring for children but also early childhood stimulation and development.
All of our nannies devise a profile which informs the potential client about their skill set and they are CPR trained and have police character certificates, references, medicals and food handling certificates.
I have about 30 nannies at the moment and I try hard to match the right person to the job and vice versa.
What is your typical day like?
My day can start off with a phone call and a request for the service so I will look to see who is available and I will send out all of the necessary information about how Specialist Nannies works and receive a child or baby profile.
I spend some time devising timetables in collaboration with clients so that the nanny knows what is expected of her and I know about any special requirements for the child.
I also liaise with parents to carry out unannounced visits so that I can ensure the nannies are working to the required standard.
Who are your clients?
My average client is a new mum who lives on the island who has recently had a baby and doesn’t want to put their newborn into a nursery.
We also have people who are visiting the island with their children and are staying in villas, condos or hotels and need a babysitter for an evening.
What advice would you give budding entrepreneurs?
You need determination, consistency, and patience and you have to be prepared to work hard. You also need to believe in what you want to do and the standard that you want to reach.
Another big issue when you start a business in Barbados, especially if you come from off the island, is to take your time to develop trust and getting people to trust you, because that can take years.
What do you like most about living in Barbados?
Barbados is a place where, when you wake up, you immediately feel inspired because of the sunshine, the warmth and the friendly people. It all gives you inspiration to keep going.
What makes Barbados different to the other islands?
I think it’s more progressive in terms of business, industry and service. The island also embraces diversity and is open to change.
What do you do on your days off?
I’m an avid tennis player and I play quite aggressively. I also like to swim and I’m an artist. I mainly paint African figures using acrylics; it takes my mind off things and relaxes me.
If you could talk to yourself 30 years ago what advice would you give?
I would say set your goals high and don’t let anybody change your dreams. If you have an idea and a dream just go for it, and have faith and trust in yourself. Live life to the fullest and do the things that you really believe in.
Find out more information on the Specialist Nannies website