Updated: Feb 8
When Mallory Douglas moved her cleaning business, Simply Clean, from Virginia Beach to Lexington, she had 40 dollars and the determination of a mom needing to provide for her two children. In the early days of her Lexington-based business, Mallory put everything she earned into Simply Clean, “I turned that 40 dollars into 200 dollars in one day by cleaning a fraternity house. It wasn’t pretty, but when I got my tax return I put every cent back into my business.” She also saved money on supplies by going to Dollar General and Walmart to ask for their damaged goods at a discounted price. Despite her best efforts at saving money for her business, financial management was still a challenge, “Once I got up and running, money came in and went out so quickly it was hard to keep track.” That’s when she turned to the Walker Program for technical assistance.
The Walker Program supports Black-owned businesses in the Lexington area. It combines free business training, grant funding, and ongoing support to committed individuals who want to start or grow a business. “The Walker program is so much more than just a program. It’s about the people who see you and ask how you’re really doing. They have your back, they support you, and they look out for you,” Mallory said about her experience in the program. She also nods to Helen Bisset, co-owner of Curated Getaways, a high-end home rental service, for taking a chance on her early on and hiring her to clean AirBnBs. The support from The Walker Program as well as fellow entrepreneurs helped her get her business off the ground.
Despite having years of experience in the cleaning industry, she quickly realized that her new customer base was going to approach her and her business a little differently. “The cleaning is the easiest part,” says Mallory, “being a Black woman dealing with customers can often be the harder part. Clients treat me like their maid or mistake my white employees for the boss and talk to them instead of me.” Prejudice and misunderstandings like these made Mallory want to throw in the towel more than once. Having a support organization in the area that focuses specifically on Black-owned businesses was instrumental in making Mallory feel seen and supported, and helped her persevere. “This may come as a surprise to some people, but not only are there Black people in Lexington. But they own businesses!”, she said about the community, “We need a safe place to gather and talk because isolation is a big deal as a Black entrepreneur in a small rural community.”
Now Simply Clean provides environmentally friendly home resets for upscale properties and AirBnBs. Mallory has been able to hire enough employees that she can step away from the day-to-day cleaning appointments, and focus more on management and operations. She hopes to expand into the Charlottesville area soon and continue growing her business. If you’re looking for a cleaning service for your property, you can contact Mallory by phone at 757-748-4917. If you’re interested in learning more about The Walker Program, visit their website or follow them on Instagram.
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