HELPING HANDS: CATCHING UP WITH NIKKI (NATHAN) VENEZIANO (WC ’08)
Veneziano’s business venture designed to help customers find extra time for themselves
By Paul Batterson, Contributing Writer
After graduating with a musical theatre degree, Nikki (Nathan) Veneziano left Wright State University prepared to play a wide variety of roles on the stage.
Nothing, the 2008 Worthington Christian graduate said, prepared her for the role she is playing now. Veneziano is the founder and CEO of Columbus Personal Assistants, a business aimed at freeing up time for their clientele by providing assistants to take care of a wide variety of duties and chores.
“I always tell people I have never had a real job in my whole life,” Veneziano said. “I have always been doing side jobs and working in theatre. I have this imposter syndrome – why do I think I can do this?”
“What has surprised me is that it has become reality quicker than I expected. When you have (an idea for a business) in your brain and see it come out of your mind and it becomes real, the feeling is indescribable. It feels impossible until you start doing it.”
Currently, Veneziano has just under 20 employees serving many clients in the central Ohio area. She describes her company as providing “assistance with household needs to overwhelmed families.” Families can arrange for help in 12, 24 and 40-hour increments per month.
“A lot of times it is young families in which both the mom and dad work. They just really want to spend more time with their kids and their spouse,” she said. “We have people who have overcommitted themselves and they feel like they are drowning. We’re able to come in and release them a little bit. We give them some free time, so they can do the things that matter to them.”
Personal assistants can perform a wide variety of tasks including laundry, meal preparation, grocery shopping, and child and pet care. And occasionally, mascot-making.
“One of the more unusual things I’ve done was helping a child make a mascot,” Veneziano said with a laugh. “My client’s daughter was 10 years old and was really into arts and crafts. She decided she wanted to make herself a mascot costume. She bought the fur and the eyes to go with it but she wasn’t sure how to put it together.”
Veneziano said she was a bit out of her element there as well but looked up videos on YouTube and researched the topic on Google. “When you’re not sure what to do, YouTube and Google are great helps,” she said. “I helped her design it and made it so she could glue on all the extra touches herself. It turned out so, so cute.”
Veneziano fell into the field of being a personal assistant quite by chance. Holly Varian, the substitute teacher coordinator for Worthington Christian and an administrative assistant for the middle school, recommended Veneziano to a family who needed some help with nannying for their daughter and doing some housework tasks. Veneziano said she enjoyed working with the family so much, that when she was home from college, she continued to work for them.
After performing on a national tour of Sweet Charity and performing in several regional theatre gigs, Veneziano returned to Columbus to be a personal assistant.
“I realized that there was a big need for personal assistants in this city. There are a lot of babysitting agencies and nanny agencies. But there wasn’t really an agency for what I did,” she said. “I was talking to my family and they said, ‘Well you should create one.””
Veneziano started the business in September of 2017 and has been surprised by how quickly her company has grown. One of the strengths of Veneziano’s company is her ability to pair up the right assistant with the right family. When she is hiring someone, Veneziano looks for people who are flexible, proactive and detail-oriented as well as being able to multitask.
“You have to understand people’s needs and meet them,” she said. “You are doing a lot of different tasks at one time but you have to make sure details don’t get dropped and you are able to get things done in the most thorough way. You need to always bring positivity into someone’s home, into someone’s life.
“The thing I enjoy the most is seeing the relationships that come out of being a personal assistant. I have families who tell me on multiple occasions we wish we could adopt her. She feels like she’s a daughter to us. She’s a part of our family. Seeing that happen is so heartwarming. Seeing clients lives change for the better and seeing their stress melt away because they have someone in their lives that they can really rely on is so, so rewarding. It’s been really, really cool.”