Jackie Kamau, The Laundry Lady, turned her love for all things squeaky clean into a business.
My education background is in business management. My employment years revolved around administration — ensuring that an office was running like clockwork. I worked with a couple of start-up organisations and this exposure is what guided me when I decided to start my own business.
The inspiration came about after several conversations I had with a friend about our personal experiences with house cleaners and how difficult it was to get a reliable person who understood what house cleaning was all about. As we talked, I saw a gap in the market for a reliable, convenient and consistent laundry and house cleaning service.
Many Kenyans are busy and do not have time to do their laundry or clean their houses. I took this as an opportunity that I could leverage on. However, although I had the idea for a number of years, I never pursued the business until 2017 when I found myself jobless. So, with my idea at hand, I talked to my brother, who is my business manager, about the idea I had and the approach I wanted to take.
What happened next
Armed with a washing machine, a drier and five cleaning ladies who I had worked with previously, The Laundry Lady was born on September 1, 2018.
My first client was an international school that had just opened and they needed their staff clothes cleaned. Something about that phone call and my first client assured me that this was going to work. I was super nervous and excited all at the same time because this was my first client and it was a testament that I was now in business.
Secondly, I did not want to disappoint and had to make sure we did an exceptional job — from collection of laundry, cleaning, to delivering it back to the client. We are in the services sector where delivery of quality service ensures your customers come back a second and third time and eventually become regular.
Running A Start-Up
We are an on-demand laundry and house cleaning service company aspiring to exceed our clients’ expectations by providing high-quality service, convenience, affordability and utmost customer service.
Our clientele varies from university/college students, families, mothers with newborn babies, bachelors and other groups of people looking for clean, reliable and convenient laundry or house cleaning services. We also work with salons and spas for what we call ‘the towel exchange service’ where we collect the dirty towels from these establishments and return them clean and ready to use.
It has been an amazing one-year journey and I am excited at where we are as a business. However, May–June which were our busiest months were really challenging. The rainy weather made it difficult to meet our clients’ deadlines; we even had an incident where four different clients’ clothes got mixed up. My patience was severely tested, but I have come to learn how to handle such matters while reassuring the customers.
Also, it is not always easy to find a team that understands your vision. I have lost some ladies for one reason or the other. Currently, we have seven cleaning ladies who we work with, and we ensure they are thorough and attentive in their work. We thoroughly vet our cleaning ladies to ensure that we are only dealing with professionals who have integrity. I am constantly asking my clients for feedback on our services as this is what helps us improve. I’m very hopeful and expectant that the next year will see us experience exponential growth in terms of our client base as we look into more ways of providing convenience with our services.
Where I Am Now
We are excited to be celebrating our one-year anniversary as a business this month. The journey to where we are today has been exciting and challenging but it is these challenges that have pushed us to remain consistent in the services that we provide. We have seen tremendous growth and I expect our numbers will increase as we move forward. Importantly, we have not broken even yet but the business is able to support itself which is a really good thing and I am excited about the progress so far.
Running a business is not easy. It requires dedication, determination and self-sacrifice. I also learnt very early on that ‘persistence will get you there, consistency will keep you there.’ This phrase is not only my mantra but it gives me the motivation to continue pushing through and pressing on towards my goals when the going gets tough. Lastly, start something that you are passionate about. It is this passion that will drive you even when faced with difficulties. In addition, I like to view these challenges as learning experiences that stretch me out to do better.