By Lajeune Hollis
Uniquely Cleaned, a residential and commercial cleaning service based in Naugatuck, is a typical family business at heart--but the family that started it is pushing things beyond the norm.
Four years ago, Byron Williams was inspired to pursue a family business by his father, a re-entering citizen. “My dad was in prison for 26 years. I didn't want him coming back home and working for somebody. We wanted a business to reintroduce him back into society,” said Williams. “So, we asked him, ‘What type of business do you want us to start?’ and at first he said a moving company, and then somehow, a cleaning business came up.”
So, the Williams’ went to work. Once they finished all the paperwork necessary to register their cleaning business with the Secretary of the State, they had to decide what to call it. Byron's wife Dee explained, "My full name is Dewygee, so growing up I would always hear, ‘that name is so different,’ ‘You’re a unique person.’ And I always did do things uniquely!” She just knew their family's cleaning business would have to be called “Uniquely Cleaned.”
In that spirit, Uniquely Cleaned accommodates jobs small, large and in between. As far as they are concerned, every mess is unique, and so is their service. "We pride ourselves on our customer service,” says Dee. “We are not your norm!”
Unfortunately, Byron said, “Things did not work out with Dad. He lasted maybe 4 or 5 months.” After the Williams’ found themselves with a cleaning business they hadn’t planned on operating they pressed on, he says, starting with just “some brooms, mops, and a vacuum cleaner. We started off residentially and then got to a point where, on my father’s last day, we received our first commercial contract with a dance studio."
When the business launched, the Williams' started it with their four children. Byron handles the marketing and finds customers on a part-time basis, while also working full-time as a power plant operator in Bridgeport. Dee works full-time managing Uniquely Cleaned after leaving her job at a non-profit. Their eldest daughter, Oriana, heads up the business' human resources. 19-year-old Gary and 17-year-old Donni supervise the cleaning business part-time, and their youngest child, at age 11, helps with tasks like taking out the trash.
“The bigger we are, the more people we can help.”
Things started to take off as residents of Naugatuck, Cheshire and Waterbury began calling with residential jobs. Their social media posts and business cards were working, in addition to referrals from happy customers. In their first year, Uniquely Cleaned had seven clients. That number doubled to 14 in the year to follow and, by 2020, their service had grown to supporting 70 clients.
But, when COVID-19 hit, it took away about 85% of their business. However, it wasn’t going to be the end for Uniquely Cleaned. Even though they had lost most of their residential business in 2020, they were able to pivot towards more lucrative commercial contracts as people continued to return to work.
Returning to his day job at Bridgeport Harbor Station, Byron saw sanitation employees coming in during the day to disinfect the building with a fogger. The entire job was completed in two hours and came with a fee of $5,000. A lightbulb went off in Byron’s head, and he went out that evening to purchase two chemical foggers for Uniquely Cleaned. But instead of only seeking out industrial clients looking to sanitize large facilities, he started including fog sanitization with small deep cleaning jobs, too. This led to more and more calls from pharmacies, daycares and even an automobile dealership. Now, Byron says, “we will be actively looking for contract opportunities in various sizes, applying to and bidding on more state and government contracts, as we are looking to expand as far as we can.”
Byron also used Pandemic downtime to obtain a Minority-Owned Business Certificate from the State of Connecticut. In fact, they found themselves eligible for several grants, including for veterans like Byron. They also registered with a program in Naugatuck to provide summer jobs at their business to a handful of high-school students, and provide hands-on experience with cleaning and office work to learn business administration.
Dee is also heavily involved in their local community. She has formed partnerships with Naugatuck’s Police Chief and Superintendent of Schools. She is also on the Board of Directors for Naugatuck’s Youth Services, where Uniquely Cleaned serves as a job site, and as a partner in mentorship and community services. Community service, she says, is her passion. "Community service is a major component of what you are supposed to do anyway," she shared. Mentorship comes as second nature to her after running a federally-funded program to get minority students from Bridgeport, New Haven and Stratford into the medical field in 2012.
In keeping with their original mission, Uniquely Cleaned is a Second Chance Employer. They actively look to hire, train and help people that other employers may reject because of their history of incarceration. This includes a supervisor training program to learn leadership skills, and an administrative training program to help people adjust to working in an office environment.
As for what is next, The Williams' are focused on growing their business around the principle that “the bigger we are, the more people we can help.”
Uniquely Cleaned is located in Naugatuck, Connecticut. Visit their website, Facebook or Instagram to learn more.
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By Lajeune Hollis
Alisha Moten, exuberant and full-of-joy makeup artist and owner of Golden Adorns Artistry, loves to travel with her husband on vacation. She loves to take in all the sights, sounds and scenes from every excursion, but the feeling of refreshment and vibrancy she adopts quickly dissipates when she returns home. Instead of being stuck in a let-down of post-vacation blues, Moten used her experience as a catalyst and inspiration to launch her online business while on a four-month pandemic-induced job furlough in 2020.
“Golden is for things that bring you joy,” she shared. “Adorns means to beautify. When I think about life, I want it to be golden and bring me joy, travel, art and beauty."
It’s no wonder Moten’s mantra is to live life goldenly. She has a positive mindset and encourages others to do the same by taking just a few minutes a day to de-stress–and her wellness essential oils and candles can help with that.
Golden Adorns Artistry features a variety of travel-inspired products, including candles, décor, skin care and wellness.
"When I think about life, I want it to be golden and bring me joy, travel,
Moten offers 10 signature double-wicked candle scents that are each packaged beautifully in glass tumblers with natural cork lids, and include her Luxe Resort Travel Candle, Destination Travel Candle, Exotic Hiatus Travel Candle, Golden Moments Travel Candle and Vacation Hair Travel Candle.
“Golden Moments is a sugar lemongrass scent, a sweet but lemony zest—a fun scent,” she shared. “You are creating memories while on vacation, hence, Golden Moments.”
And as for her Vacation Hair Travel Candle?
“Ladies are excited to go on vacation, so we get our hair done with twists, braids, pixies and up-dos,” she said. And that memory of the smell of “vacation hair” is what she’s captured.
She also carries Citrus Crème Lip Smoothie, a very popular lip smoothie made with coconut, Shea butter, lemon essential oil and vanilla. This big seller leaves lips feeling not just smooth but moisturized.
As part of her wellness line, Moten carries wellness essential oils. Her Zest aromatherapy blend is made with lemongrass and peppermint essential oils, and provides a feeling of energy and invigoration–a perfect “pick-me-up” from a mid-afternoon slump. Her Bedtime essential oil is made with lavender and frankincense and helps provide a restful sleep, just like the kind you experience while on vacation.
Moten plans to offer specialty boxes—filled with accoutrements—for destination-themed bridal showers and weddings. And, a Golden Candle Travel Club is also on the horizon, where subscribers will receive a monthly candle box—highlighting a different travel destination—and other goodies. What’s more? Moten would like to run her online business on a full-time basis, increasing distribution by expanding her product line into boutiques and home décor shops.
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend time with friends, Golden Adorns Artistry offers home parties, themed around beauty, scents and travel. Hosts choose from a list of suggestions and receive many perks, including credit from party merchandise sales.
So, if you seek the feeling that comes from a vacation that never ends—the warmth of the sun, the fresh ocean breeze, the sound of your favorite music playing on the beach—then look no further than Golden Adorns Artistry. They truly “capture the feelings of wanderlust through home fragrance, skincare, style and décor.”
Golden Adorns Artistry is an online business based in West Haven, Connecticut. Shop on their website by clicking here or visit Golden Adorns Artistry on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.
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By Mahalia Anderson
Beauty can go a long way, and Waterbury business owner Cherron Freeman is making sure every customer that visits her store leaves feeling even more beautiful then when they walked in.
Just a few months ago, Cherron’s Beauty Supply was only an idea for Freeman, who is a recent HBCU graduate from North Carolina Central University and holds two degrees—one in political science with a concentration in prelaw and another in mass communication with a concentration in public relations.
“I got the idea to open my store after my mom showed me the space for rent and kept telling me it was a perfect location for a business,” she shared. “I wanted to open something Waterbury didn’t have already and then we came up with a beauty supply store to bring something different.”
Since then, the Cherron Beauty Supply has been flourishing.
“We carry everything you need in a beauty supply store, from all varieties of colorful wigs to natural hair care products such as Mielle and ORS,” shared Freeman. “We also [do] hair braiding and crocheting, [have] hair accessories, jewelry and a lot more.”
When it comes to hair, Freeman knows that quality is important, and she knows that her customers can depend on her store for the right products to suit their needs and help enhance their natural beauty.
“We make sure we have the best quality wigs and products for our customers,” she said. “We only want to have products which really work for your hair and wigs that will last.”
Cherron’s Beauty Supply is able to cater to each customer’s personality, with affordability as a priority. Her best-selling products show how Freeman’s customers are all about being fun and creative. “Our customers love our wigs! We have so many unique colors and styles, and we’re still adding more every day,” she shared. “One of our most popular products if our Tie Dye Wig—people love it. We have to restock it all the time!”
“We really take the time to research everything and choose what is best. From the wigs the products and how to use them, we want to be able to give honest information.”
Freeman understands the value of each customer and her goal is to make sure that when they leave the store that not only are the happy but are radiating from the inside out.
“The best customer service is having knowledge about your products and be able to inform your customers properly. You also need a very friendly, outgoing personality,” explained Freeman. “We really take the time to research everything and choose what is best. From the wigs the products and how to use them, we want to be able to give honest information.”
Cherron’s Beauty Supply stocks beautiful wigs in many different colors, styles and materials, including synthetic to human hair, to set the look for a special night out or even a casual day in the park.
With success already knocking at her door, Freeman’s dream is to grow her business and be able to teach other girls how, with following their passion and putting in hard work, they can do the same. “Wanting to expand keeps me going! I want to have multiple stores in different cities all around and be able to teach other girls how to do it too,” she shared.
Freeman has already made a huge difference in her community and has high hopes to do more in the future. “We had a toy giveaway for Christmas in partnership with The New Woman’s Club,” she shared. “We plan on doing a lot more in the spring!”
One way or another, Cherron is beautifying her community, one product at a time.
Cherron’s Beauty Supply is located at 68 Willow Street in Waterbury, Connecticut and is open Monday-Friday, 10:00am-7:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-7:00pm and Sunday 12:00-5:00pm. Shop on their website or find Cherron’s Beauty Supply on Instagram or Facebook.
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