‘My entry into male-dominated laundry business met with cold reception’

Odedina Abimbola

A wonderful poet once said; You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.” I bet she had Odedina Abimbola in mind.

Bimbo was singlehandedly raised by her hardworking mother who sells foodstuff and charcoal at Ipodo market, Ikeja. She lost her Father at a tender age in 2009, for her growing up was a very challenging experience, she, her mom and younger sister Adepeju had to take refuge in a room and parlour apartment in the ancestral home of her maternal grandfather in Ipodo, Ikeja where she hustled through life to make a living; selling charcoal and taking up different jobs to save towards her education and also support her family.

Her story went viral a month ago when she posted her laundry Business on Twitter, a tweet that has now been shared over ten thousand times and reposted on other social media platforms, Giving Bimbo leverage for her business, showing the ripple effect of determination and doggedness and also reminding us of the power of social media. The young budding entrepreneur shares her Inspiring story with me in this interview.

Growing Up
DESPITE my humble background, I was determined to do what it takes to change my family’s fortune. Immediately after Secondary school, I started taking up several jobs to assist my mother to fend for the family and saving towards sponsoring myself to the university.

In 2012, I gained admission into Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, Akoko to study Business Administration, while in school I made several trips to Lagos to do promotional ushering jobs during weekends and I took up part time jobs during every semester break working with Wrangler as a sales representative at Ikeja Mall, while still studying hard in school, eventually graduating with. ( CGPA) second class degree.

In 2017 after graduation, while waiting to be posted to serve my Fatherland (NYSC). I took up several jobs part time jobs, saved some money to start dealing in charcoal business having learnt the trade from my mother, I started selling in small and large units to food vendors, restaurants around Ikeja axis. But eventually had to quit the trade due to constant pressure to join Charcoal dealers pressure group.

In November 2017, I was posted to Adamawa state for the mandatory NYSC scheme, spent 3weeks in camp for the orientation exercise and eventually redeployed to Ibadan, Oyo state due to insecurity in the North. As a Corps member in Ibadan I was posted to a secondary school where I was to resume 8am and close by 2pm, I decided to look for another part-time job to raise extra money for my upkeep and increase my savings.

Luck smiled on me and I got a sales activation job with British American Tobacco, Ibadan sales unit. There I was required to work between 5pm to 10pm on Tuesday’s to Thursday, 5pm till 2am during the weekends.

Though stressful, the pay was good and I was able to save the BAT salary towards starting a business. Eventually, the 3month contract with BAT ended and I had to make a decision on what business to do. As a member of WINNER’s Chapel I’ve always heard Bishop Oyedepo emphasize on the importance of seeking divine direction, so I prayed to God to show me the business to do and miraculously I got divine direction to start a laundry business in a dream.

Thereafter, I had to seek wise counsel from friends and I was directed to see a young man (Mr. Falade Ayomipo Oluwaseun) who also owned a laundry service here in Ibadan. I was told he also started as a Corps member and he was willing to teach me how to start and manage a laundry and dry cleaning shop at an affordable fee. I was able to learn within 3weeks while my PPA was on break. Few days later with the assistance of my Boss, I used all my savings to buy a washing machine, generator, industrial iron and other materials, equipment and items needed to start a Laundry and Dry Cleaning service.

On 10th May 2018, I started business washing 15shirts, 7 trousers and some under wears. Today I’m a proud owner of a booming Laundry business (CRYTALZ EXCLUSIVE CLEANING SERVICES) that is registered with the CAC, I have 4 employees; 2pressers, a washerwoman and a delivery man. On the long run I intend to engage in large scale laundry and dry cleaning service and also perform Janitorial services.

Inspiration behind Crystalz Laundry
Crystalz Laundry was God inspired. During the service year, I did a contract job with Benson and Hedges Ibadan sales unit. I was required to work between 5pm to 10pm on Tuesday’s to Thursday, 5pm till 2am during the weekends. Though stressful, the pay was good and I was able to save my salary towards starting a business. When the contract job ended. I had to make a decision on what business to do. I prayed to God to show me the business to do and miraculously I got divine direction to start a laundry business in a dream.

What inspired me to advertise my business on Twitter
A friend of mine (Juba Adeola) told me about how Twitter has helped many entrepreneurs (e.g Dolapo shawarma) increase sales at no cost. He suggested we take professional pictures of me at work, summarize my story while tagging Influencer’s and praying to God to help make the post go viral. And it did go viral by God’s grace.

Reception since I started Crystalz Laundry
My entry into a male dominated laundry business met with cold reception from family members, friends and many others. Some people even advised I do something more “Womanly” though my strong resolve and determination made many change their mind. My choice of business still baffles a lot of people till today

My vision
Crytalz Exclusive Cleaning Services is registered with the CAC. On the long run I intend to engage in large scale laundry and dry cleaning service and also perform Janitorial services. So far, I have trained and assisted 2 people to set up their laundry business. I have a vision to periodically organise skills acquisition training and empowerment programs for people with a major focus on women. I may also diversify my business based on the ever changing business environment.

Challenges
Unstable power supply, I spend a large amount of money on petrol monthly. I use a motorcycle rider to do my delivery and we have survived 2 terrible accidents. The unstable cost of buying materials is also an issue. Getting new customers usually require extra effort.

On giving up
I had a rethink after I survived 2 terrible accidents in the course of doing pick up and delivery. The scars are still visible on my body but I eventually overcame my worry and resolved not to give up.

Being a Woman of Rubies
My strong determination to succeed. I sponsored myself to the university. As an undergraduate in Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba, I made several trips to Lagos to do promotional ushering jobs during weekends.

I took up part time jobs during every semester break/strike working with Wrangler as a sales representative at Ikeja Mall. Before going for NYSC, I did charcoal business but had to quit due to pressure and debt. Despite all odds, I’m self-employed, an employee of labour and my story has inspired many.

Advice for women who want to go into the laundry business
The business world is not the exclusive domain of men, women have what it takes to own, run and manage businesses. What is required is a determination backed by a strong resolve to succeed in your chosen field; despite the odds and the heavy burden society has placed on women.

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