WEST PALM BEACH — Alicia Colon is one of millions of Americans who lost their jobs in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as employers closed workplaces or cut staff.
She now runs a cleaning company that specializes in vacation rentals.
Cologne, 32, of Lake Worth Beach, spent 10 years in marketing in the automotive industry before being laid off in late February 2020. An event scheduled for South Florida Ford dealerships has been cancelled.
Luckily for Coron, she was already thinking about starting a cleaning business after reading a Facebook post from a woman who quit her job to start a cleaning company.
The West Palm Beach company now has 10 employees and 115 customers
That led Colon to found West Palm Beach-based Sage Cleaning. Colon currently has 10 of her employees and 115 of her clients, including her 50 vacation rental properties that her team handles.
“We were planning to launch this business in the fall of 2020. There was no rush. Then out of nowhere came the shutdown,” Colon said. “We decided to open in 30 days. We hired two cleaners. was.”
She researched cleaning methods, contacted other cleaning company owners, and promoted her company on social media.
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“Cleaning was essential, but people were afraid. Often there were no customers. We paid them dollars,” Colon said.
Colon spent about $10,000 in initial costs and estimates he has invested over $20,000 so far. Last year, Sage Cleaning won him a $10,000 minority business grant from the Palm Beach County Urban League.
“Towards the end of 2020, things started to change. We had more snowbirds here. Florida was a little less regulated,” Colon said.
After being laid off from her nonprofit job in late summer 2020, Colon’s mother, Diana Gonzalez-Hicks, joined her as vice president of operations. Colon said her main challenge in business is hiring quality employees.
“Good staff is the hardest to find. Labor shortages are the same as everyone else is experiencing,” Colón said.
But while some might treat them with contempt, she says the work is worth it.
“This industry can be tainted with stereotypes. Cleaning specialists are professionals. Take pride in the work you do,” Colon said.