Kayme Pumphrey–K Grace Childcare

mompreneur

Creative. Eloquent. Determined. Resilient. Compassionate.

These are just a few of the adjectives that come to mind when thinking about Kayme Pumphrey, the founder of K Grace Childcare.  You see, Kayme’s story is a unique one of how she built one of the most well regarded childcare services in Chicago from her original office of a bedroom closet while also building a beautiful family with her husband Bryan, and how she mustered all of her strength and determination to maintain the success of K Grace, create an additional business, and start a non for profit organization for grief support after unexpectedly losing her beloved husband.

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The Growth of a Business

The beauty of Kayme’s entrepreneurial story is that it is organic.  As a college student at DePaul University, she balanced nannying and going to school full time, and both she and her husband babysat almost every night of the week.  To fulfill the demand of families seeking caregivers, they started referring friends and sorority sisters.  It wasn’t long until Kayme and Bryan brainstormed on how to build a business off of the word of mouth referrals.

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With the business growing, Kayme hired staff, moved into larger spaces, and also expanded the K Grace list of services. Now instead of simply providing child care, they have been able to fill noticeable voids in the areas of tutoring (both educational and enrichment), personal concierge/assistant, and event planning.

The K Grace Difference

What makes K Grace such a great resource for Chicagoland families?  They use a rigorous screening process for potential sitters consisting of three in person interviews, a doctor’s physical exam, CPR certification, child development exam, reference checks, a national criminal background check, and social security verification.  Furthermore, K Grace prides itself on creating ease and peace of mind for parents by establishing a dependable agency that has grown to service over a thousand happy Chicagoland families.

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Based on Kayme’s diligence hiring only the best staff and treating them with appreciation and respect, they have provided families with wonderful caregivers for the past 13 years.  Having clear and concise rules, regulations, and expectations for sitters has led to positive and long term relationships between K Grace and families across Chicagoland.  Her staff is truly one of the elements she is most proud of in terms of being a business owner, as well as the consistent quality of K Grace services.

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Hoping to launch a business as successful as K Grace?  Kayme’s advice is to trust your instincts, pay attention to every detail, know that you are going to be fully consumed with your project, and know that the rewards (in terms of time and money) rarely come in the beginning…and maybe never at all.  Additionally, she highly recommends that you read up on anything and everything, including industry materials, as well as record your thoughts and ideas.  That’s why I always keep a notebook handy—you never know when genius will strike.

Life Balance

As with many business owners, there is always a struggle spending enough time simply living and enjoying the company of family and friends as opposed to being consumed by your endless to do list.  So when Bryan was offered a position in Kansas City as an executive with YMCA, they welcomed the shorter commute and slower pace with two little ones.  The great thing was that Kayme was still able to manage K Grace even though she was no longer in the Chicagoland area.

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In terms of life balance, Kayme points out that her kids always come first and she will drop everything to meet their needs but on a daily basis, she just about equally splits her attention between her kids and her work.  Add in the fact that she is an owner of multiple businesses and you will get a true picture of her days in “messy survival mode” as opposed to structured and organized time dedicated to one specific thing.

Life was much more balanced before Kayme tragically lost her husband Bryan in June of 2012.  Thankfully her amazing staff helps her to take care of things on the business end so she can devote as much time as possible to her adorable children.  As one who sets very high standards for herself, she had to shift her focus after losing Bryan and find the time for all that she wants, needs and feels required to do, including volunteering at her kids’ school every week, running both K Grace and Blue Balloon, managing a household, maintaining friendships, and grieving.

The Blue Balloon

As Kayme so eloquently puts it, “Being a mom as well as an entrepreneur was one thing, but being a widowed mama and entrepreneur is completely different.”  But there have been many successes and bright spots on her challenging journey, including starting The Blue Balloon in the midst of her worst nightmare.

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The Blue Balloon is an adorable kids’ salon located in Wichita, where Kayme and her family now live. Blue Balloon is aptly named for Bryan’s favorite color that shined from his bright eyes, and the fact that balloons float up to heaven, where Bryan is watching and encouraging Kayme and her children as they continue through life, celebrating and honoring his memory.  The best part is that her children have the opportunity to watch their amazing mom muster her strength and determination to create The Blue Balloon to honor their wonderful dad.

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Grief is Gray

If you take anything away from this article, Kayme hopes that you realize that “you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, so you should make the most of today.”  It is tricky to give advice about grief since it is such a personal and unique thing for each individual, but Kayme has found that writing (read her blog/public journal here) and taking time to grieve has helped her in the time since losing Bryan.  Being honest with yourself and others about how you are feeling (read her wonderful article about being a widow here), enlisting help, and talking about your loved one are also positive ways to grieve.

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Kayme pointed out that one of the most difficult things about her loss is that there are “triggers” for grief everywhere.  After losing my Dad five years ago this Father’s Day, I couldn’t agree more about this statement.  Maybe that is why I chose to write about Kayme and her story of perseverance during a month when I knew I would need some inspiration and support.

Lastly, Kayme is starting a non profit organization with the aim of supporting those who are grieving.  Just the name in itself shows Kayme’s strong understanding of grief…it is hazy and never simply black or white.  It is a complex situation with no right or wrong; the only thing that is wrong is that there currently are not many things as a support or community that exist.  Yet again, Kayme is filling a much needed void for families like hers and mine, much in the same way as she started K Grace.

I hope this article leaves you feeling inspired and amazed at all of the good work one person can do, no matter what obstacles may be in the way.

 

Looking for other inspirational stories?  Check out the other fantastic mompreneurs in the area.
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Comments

  1. monica says

    Childcare options that are safe are very hard to find. It is awesome that they pre-screen the nannies for you. It is so difficult to know when to trust someone. The services they provide are awesome and the story behind the company is great too. Love supporting companies from hard working women that made it happen.

  2. Ronda Ogilvie says

    Bless her heart! What an amazing women! She is an inspiration and beautiful inside and out! I love the work she has done and making her tragedy a triumph! That Blue Balloon is absolutely adorable!!

  3. Dina Demarest says

    I have chills while reading this. I loved hearing the back story and the story behind the name The Blue Balloon. This is a woman who is inspiring and motivating to other women and mothers that are going through tough times wondering how they are going to progress in life and shows them it can be done.

  4. Alanna says

    This is a very touching, inspiring, and heart-breaking story! I can’t even form the right words to say. I felt every emotion when reading this! First, I am so sorry for Kayme and her children’s loss. They are in my thoughts and prayers. Kayme’s strength, courage, and dedication for her kids and entrepreneurial spirit is beyond incredible! Her story inspires me to keep pursuing my entrepreneur dreams!! Thank you so much for sharing her story and THANK YOU Kayme for being so open, helping others and giving advice! I needed it! <3 With Love, Alanna

    • amandasimkin says

      Kayme is the true epitome of grace under pressure…no wonder why her business is called K Grace.

  5. Tammilee Tips says

    This is such a touching story! She is such an inspiration for other women going through similar losses and for her children as well. I love her strength and you can tell how much she loves her children!

    • amandasimkin says

      Anyone has experienced loss can learn so much for Kayme’s experience. She is someone I greatly admire, and I know that I am not alone.

  6. Tami says

    I love that you do background checks. I hate leaving my child with just anybody. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a mom who does day care. Had she not be available, I would’ve went to a place like this.

  7. Briton says

    Wow, what an amazing woman who knows what hard work is. I admire the businesses and organization she has developed and imagine she has helped countless people through them. Thank you for featuring Kayme and her good deeds!

  8. Nikki says

    What an inspirational story! I am so sorry to hear that she lost her husband, though. I think it is inspiring that she did something so positive with her grief. Both K Grace Childcare and the Blue Balloon sound fantastic. I especially love the Blue Balloon, that looks like a fun salon!

    • amandasimkin says

      I have never been to the Blue Balloon, but the pictures are amazing, aren’t they? Those murals are gorgeous!

  9. Bonnie @ wemake7 says

    Wow, what an amazing woman and story of everything she was able to accomplish. I love hearing stories like this. It makes me feel like I can reach my goals too.

  10. Maria says

    Thank you so much for sharing this truly inspirational story. We are only bound by our own barriers. And, this story proves that one can accomplish anything, and that even out of grey skies, can come clear skies full of light, love, and laughter.

  11. Miranda (Myrabev) says

    Oh wow bless her she sounds like a really strong lady who I should take a leaf from her books. I do not yet have kids but my friends who do struggle to find a reliable and dependable baby sitter outside their families its good to know about such great services like K-Grace. Thanks for sharing

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