HYATTSVILLE, Md. — Before venturing into the laundry business and launching two successful Maryland stores — Speedwash Laundromat and Brite & Clean Laundromat — Phebean Oyefusi was a CPA and an auditor with a demanding schedule and a young family.
Life as an auditor, first in a public accounting firm and then with the State of Maryland, required lots of travel and meetings with financial executives. However, as a mother with children under the age of 5, Oyefusi yearned for more of a healthy work-life balance.
“It’s funny to think that as an auditor, I was great at managing my clients and a fast-paced work environment, yet I found it increasingly challenging to manage my personal life,” she shares. “What I needed most was more control of my time and more time with my family, especially my children, who were very young at that point.”
A LIFE-CHANGING DECISION
That’s when Oyefusi and her husband Ola began talking in earnest about taking steps to change their family’s way of living by getting into the laundry industry.
Oyefusi began by delving into research about owning a Laundromat; she took advantage of Small Business Administration counseling and resources, regularly visited her local library, talked to store owners in the neighborhood, and set up consultations with various laundry distributors.
“Hey, I’m an auditor,” chuckles Oyefusi. “Extensive due diligence is always the first step. You can’t make the best decision for yourself without finding out the essential details.”
Needless to say, Oyefusi liked what she found out, so she and her husband took the plunge. That was 22 years ago. Today, Oyefusi is the proud owner of two Maryland-based Laundromats. She’s also happy to say that the laundry business has given her what she sought out to achieve — a satisfying career and fulfilling personal life with her family.
GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE
Her newest store is just shy of 6,000 square feet and features Electrolux professional washers and dryers, all carded, and built by an experienced Electrolux distributor, Al Moore, president of Laundry Unlimited LLC.
“When it came time for replacing the equipment, the Electrolux brand was the best choice,” says Oyefusi. “I’m especially impressed by the utility savings — low water and energy usage. It took me just a short time to recognize the advantage of the new equipment over the old.”
She also recommends working with an expert in the industry.
“Working with Al and his team at Laundry Unlimited put me at ease,” says Oyefusi. “They treat my business as their own. And that’s everything to me.”
ADVICE AND INSIGHT
- “Be confident. Knowing what I know now, I would advise anyone — including a younger version of myself — to be confident early on in life. Hang out with people in business. Ask questions and be more resourceful. Also, take marketing courses in college — or right now. It’s never too late.
- “Never limit yourself. I have never defined my goals and aspirations within the confines of gender. Hence being in a profession that is largely male was not a limiting factor to me at all. It never even crossed my mind. And don’t let it cross your mind, either. Surround yourself with a network of people you trust and who believe in you. My husband is one of my biggest fans and he rises to the occasion as needed, despite having full-time regular employment outside of the home.
- “Don’t leave any option unexplored. I was determined to spend more time with my family. I wrote down every which way I could accomplish that. Thinking through the options, really exploring them, ultimately led me to a brand-new career I love that gave me what I was looking for. I use this approach when running my stores, too. There are so many decisions to make as a business owner. This way, when I ultimately decide to move ahead, I have no regrets.
- “What’s next? Store number three and four and maybe five, who knows. I feel that the sky’s the limit! With the new technology in the market today, running multiple stores is much easier than in the past.”
Editor’s note: During Women’s History Month earlier this year, Laundrylux, distributor of Electrolux and Wascomat commercial laundry equipment in North America, introduced a blog series titled Women in Laundry to celebrate women’s contributions in the workplace. This profile is part of that continuing series and is posted here with permission.