Stephanie Morris, a University of Tampa alum has started SoHo Sitters, a baby-sitting service, in South Tampa as a way of ensuring comfort and safety to both sitters and children in the community.
Soho Sitters is a service that promotes babysitters for families in South Tampa. Morris’ service helps families find reliable and responsible child care by interviewing and matching sitters based on their qualifications and the family’s request.
Morris strongly believes in both the safety of the child and sitter, which is why she came up with this service.
Morris graduated from the University of Tampa in 2011 with a degree in communications.
Morris’ love for babysitting began at age 7 when she looked after her younger cousins. At 13, she began to babysit for other families, which she continued to do throughout high school and college.
Morris recalls her experience using child-care agencies online and meeting families online that she didn’t know.
“I would call my mother and give her the address to where I was going every time,” Morris said. “I would have anxiety until I finally met the family. I wish someone could have called me and said, ‘Hey here’s a family that we already got in contact with, and it’s safe.’”
Morris worked as a nanny part-time during her summers off from college in the Tampa area. A lot of the families that she started SoHo Sitters with were families that she had babysat for in the past. When she began her business she was able to connect with families who already knew her and those that had heard of her. Many of the families she worked for in the past wrote testimonials for her and helped promote her services.
Morris worked for Triad Retail Media in St. Petersburg for two years as an account manager. Triad is a retail marketing firm that worked with top relatable retail and advertising agencies in managing all of walmart.com’s website advertising.
While there, Morris missed being a babysitter and began to wonder what she could do by incorporating both her college education and dealing with children. That’s when she came up with Soho Sitters.
Morris began by using WordPress to create a website. She then researched competitors, looked up marketing materials and began the interviewing process. Before she could get the word out to the families, Morris wanted to make sure that she had sitters ready. She also completed all the screening processes and the legality procedures that ensures both the sitters and children are safe.
After preparing SoHo Sitters, Morris began marketing. Because she was involved in the Delta Zeta sorority, she got in contact with women from the sorority who currently attend UT, along with some members of Delta Gamma. With the help of the sororities, SoHo Sitters was advertised through word of mouth, in addition to posters and fliers throughout the South Tampa area and social media.
Soho Sitters launched Oct. 13, 2014, two months after Morris left Triad.
SoHo Sitters has 45+ families involved in their services and 20+ sitters that are in the system, with most sitters being college students.
“SoHo Sitters is beneficial to me as a student because they really take into account your schedule and other obligations you have,” said Sara Hart, junior elementary education major at UT. “They truly cater to your needs as a student.”
In addition to part-time babysitting services, SoHo Sitters provides nanny services to families looking for full-time childcare.
“The nanny option is beneficial to families that are too busy to go through the whole process of finding the right care for their child,” Morris said. “SoHo sitters ensures that they have someone coming into their home that are perfect for the job.”
Although nannies are not its main market, SoHo Sitters has a more detailed process when setting families up with nannies. Morris meets with the families at their homes to see what they’re looking for in a nanny, searches her database to see whether she has people who meet the criteria, and provides the family with the candidates they can choose from. SoHo sitters has 10 nannies in the system, and three families have been set-up with full-time nannies.
Morris’ longtime goal is to hire someone to fill her shoes and manage the business. With someone managing the business, Morris will be able to expand her services and potentially franchise in other locations.
“It’s not just about having a business and making a life for myself,” Morris said.“It’s about making an impact on these families and helping one another in the community that I am involved in.”
Madison Kenney, a junior art history major at UT, has been involved in SoHo Sitters from the start. She is Morris’ go-to sitter and is continuously requested by families. Morris and Kenney have had a brief conversation about her potentially managing SoHo Sitters after graduation.
“What she has going on is an amazing company,” Kenney said, “and I would love to continue to be a part of it.”
Along with managing the business, Morris remains a babysitter and is a part-time nanny for a family in the Tampa area.
Morris continuously receives calls and texts from the families who are pleased with the sitters and the services that SoHo Sitters provides.
Stephanie Romero, mother of two, has been one of their clients since fall of 2014 after seeing a flier on the wall at a local Jamboree.
“SoHo sitters is great,” Romero said. “the sitters are very enthusiastic and always have a great attitude. My kids love them.”
“It warms my heart and makes me feel blessed that my business is blooming,” Morris said.“I feel like I was put in this world to work with children.”
Ariel Hernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org