D.C.’s part-time employment ops

Here are some interesting ways to earn extra cash that can potentially turn into a second career.

Childcare — White House Nannies

White House Nannies, a Bethesda-based company, is currently celebrating its 25th year in business. Founder Barbara Kline was a working mom who had trouble finding child care, and that is basically how the organization began, said Claire Shea, director of temporary replacement.

Shea herself answered an ad and began working in the permanent jobs division of White House Nannies. “They needed help in their temporary division and I chose to continue my career in that sector,” she said.

Permanent nannies with the organization typically last at least one year, though some have been in their positions for more than a decade. Positions can last until young children are enrolled in day care, or while the usual nanny is away on leave.

“We have college-age nannies to grandmothers,” Shea said. “Many people working on Capitol Hill work in our temporary division — they have flexible hours where they may get a Friday off here or there and call in to ask if we have any jobs.”

Shea added that the company picked up more caregivers due to higher unemployment in the area. Many are also opting for the temporary solution.

“When we do have people willing to make a commitment to us, we are happy to have them,” Shea said. “I encourage anyone interested in a continuing childcare experience to apply.”

Working at a restaurant — Chef Geoff’s and Lia’s

Geoff Tracy, owner of Chef Geoff’s restaurant locations near American University, in downtown D.C. and in Tyson’s Corner, Va., as well as Lia’s in Chevy Chase, Md., is always in a hiring process.

“We might take on probably three to five new people every single month combined over all the restaurants,” Tracy said. The restaurants typically see increases in the spring, as most of Tracy’s restaurants offer patio dining. During that month, Tracy said, they take on about 20 new servers and have many management-level positions open. Tracy’s brother is vice president of hiring management. 

“I always say, if you can find a great person he’ll find a spot for them,” Tracy said. 

Chef Geoff’s and Lia’s have enjoyed growth in sales and profitability, even in the economic downturn. “I’d like to think that is due to our marketing efforts and the fact that we are at sort of happy price points,” Tracy said.

Tracy also mentioned that he’s seen many over the past two or three years come to the realization of how valuable a job can be. “People are much more willing to say ‘you know what, I have a job here,’” he said. “They’re not quitting because they know they can be somewhere else in a month.” 

Tracy’s advice to those looking to work in the restaurant business is that first impressions are everything. “Some believe that it’s just a sous chef job or a hostess job, but it’s still a job,” Tracy said. First impressions mean a lot, and one of the most important things in Tracy’s company — make sure you spell Chef Geoff correctly.

Jewelry-making —Queen Bee Designs

Allison Priebe-Brooks’ first job out of college was with then-Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) in his press office. After nearly three years on Capitol Hill, Priebe-Brooks left politics and took time off to figure out what she needed to do with her life. She took jewelry-making classes at the Smithsonian and, by Aug. 2002, was selling her own designs.

“Everything just kind of clicked and was a natural fit for me,” Priebe-Brooks said. “I can remember people in Cleland’s office telling me that getting into fashion would make a lot more sense.”

During the late summer of 2002, Priebe-Brooks added a small part-time staff to help her business grow. She said she has felt some reverberations from the economy and unemployment, though. “People are more cautious with money, and the retail sector was hit hard,” she said. “People are choosing to spend their dollars a lot more carefully.”

However, Queen Bee Designs is faring well, thanks to Priebe-Brooks’ efforts to be more innovative with marketing. She has her own studio, and 30 different retail locations carry Queen Bee Designs, including some in the Cayman Islands and Palm Beach area. She also does trunk shows during the fall and holiday season, and in the spring.

Priebe-Brooks still keeps her Capitol Hill connection, selling to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former first lady Laura Bush and to Lynne Cheney, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife. “I’ve sold to women on both sides of the political aisle — even Rep. [Linda] Sanchez (D-Calif.) hosted trunk shows for me,” she said. “Everyone’s been really supportive.”

Priebe-Brooks also tries to continually give back to the Capitol Hill community by remaining active with the Congressional Families Program, making necklaces for cancer prevention research.

“Women on the Hill want to support other women — you have to make yourself accessible to them,” she said. 

DJing — Beat Refinery School

Growing up in the 1980s, Chris Stiles (a.k.a., DJ Stylus Chris) admired DJs like Grandmaster Flash, Jam-Master Jay (or Run DMC) and Grandmixer D.ST. 

“I loved how they were in complete control of the music, like a conductor to an orchestra,” he said.

Stiles took that love of music and began Beat Refinery, a project with his partner, DJ Geometrix. The two were commissioned by Bach to Rock to start the DJ program. 

“We’ve brought on some instructors who have toured the world DJing, as well as winners of various DJ battles,” he said. “I know there are other organizations that teach DJ classes but I believe we are the only one with a very extensive curriculum and goal structure.”

Stiles said he would love to see more Hill staffers at Beat Refinery. The school started doing custom classes so groups of friends can take courses together. 

“We offer classes mostly in the evenings, which are perfect for working professionals,” he said. “We have many students in their late 20s to mid-30s who aren’t looking to be the next big DJ, but rather as a creative outlet and potential side job.”

And if you want to be a DJ professionally, Beat Refinery has the ability to transform novice DJs into gig-ready ones in just months.

For Stiles, DJing helped fulfill a creative desire of his he’s had since he was young. 

“Music has blessed me my entire life, I’ve actually never had a traditional job,” he said. “It allows me to stay home to take care of my daughter in the day and go to work at night.”

Stiles said he has always enjoyed teaching and is happy to give back to people through his experiences.

His advice to those looking to become DJs is to practice and create a style that is all your own. “You must have a love and devotion to music much greater than even an avid music lover,” he said. 

For more information on Beat Refinery, visit www.beatrefinery.com.