Where to Begin?

Writing this “About” page was almost as hard as starting a cleaning company. There’s so much I want to tell you so that you understand why I believe what I believe, but how do I fit it all on one page?! I guess we should start at the beginning…

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home where my ideas mattered and where I was encouraged to dream.

Once, when I was barely old enough to walk, we got a new refrigerator. My parents took the big, empty box it came in, plopped it on our living room floor, and dragged out markers and crayons and all kinds of crafty stuff. They told my younger sister, Lauren, and me that the box could be anything we imagined and let us have at it. They left it there for us to play with for weeks.

My parents always encouraged our curiosity and creativity.

And while they weren’t entrepreneurs themselves, they say they always knew I was destined to be one.

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Aside from the fact that I asked for a cash register for my 6th birthday (if that’s not a sign, what is?), it seemed like every weekend I had a different business idea: making and selling fake nails, a babysitting service, a cafe. And no matter how silly I’m sure some of those ideas were, my parents always empowered me to try to bring them to fruition.

But perhaps the most important thing my parents did for me was teach me it’s okay to fail. Our dinner conversations consisted of everyone going around the table sharing what hadn’t gone well that day, what we learned from those things, and what we would do differently should we ever have to face them again.

My parents taught me to be human. Not perfect.

They taught me that failure is a gift, and that if I could learn to accept it, that gift was the opportunity to grow. They taught me to be resilient. And this, I believe, is what prepared me to be an entrepreneur who relentlessly pushed through when life inevitably pushed back.  

 
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In 2007, I was a sophomore at the University of Florida. My plan was to move to New York after graduation and work on Wall Street, but that all changed the day I fell in love with a $99 pair of jeans at the mall.

I desperately wanted them, but I couldn’t afford them, so that's when my good ol’ entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. I put an ad on Craigslist to clean someone’s house just to buy the jeans, and a woman with a 4,000-square-foot home hired me soon after. I showed up to her house with a toilet brush, a bottle of glass cleaner, a sponge, and absolutely no professional cleaning experience. As you might imagine, it was a disaster, but I must have done something right: I got paid enough to buy my coveted denim in one go. I thought that would be it, but really, it was just the beginning.

The woman who hired me needed ongoing help, so I started cleaning her house every week. Then she told her friends about me, who told their friends about me, and next thing I knew I was cleaning nonstop. But the real turning point happened the summer before my senior year, when I got a contract to clean hundreds of empty college apartments.

I hired 60 students to help me with the work, and Student Maid was born.

 
 
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Student Maid’s success boils down to one thing and one thing only: We’ve created a place with humanity at its core. A place where people feel accepted for who they are, where they are encouraged to fail and embrace their imperfections, and where they are empowered to reach their potential. A place that very much resembles the home I grew up in.

But it certainly hasn’t been easy.

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With an average industry turnover rate of 75% and the average profit margin sitting at just 15%, I don't recommend starting a cleaning business.

As I built Student Maid, there were so many times when I wanted to close my eyes and wake up to a different destiny.

But today—after more than a decade of leading my company—I can honestly say I’m so grateful that this is the business that chose me.

I’m grateful because it gave me no other choice but to figure it out. If it wasn’t the work that would keep people in my company (who’s excited about cleaning toilets?), and if it wasn’t the pay (15% profit margin, remember?), I knew it had to be something else. That something else, I learned, is the environment.

I’m proud to say that my company has blown our industry benchmarks out of the water. Our people love coming to work, they stick around for years, and some have even turned down dream jobs to join our executive team and build a career at Student Maid. (By the way, most of these people are millennials. So all that stuff you hear about the next generation moving from job to job and not being loyal? Allow me to change your mind.)

If a cleaning company can do it
any organization can.

 
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You know the story of how I started my business, but there's a lot more to me than that! Learn about my personal values, how I met my fiancé, my love languages, and more.

 
 
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