Charlotte Buskell is the entrepreneur behind the rather cleverly named “Charlady’s”, a cleaning and ironing services company, which she started in 2003. At first the business was primarily focused on domestic cleaning but has diversified to match the requirements of the local market in Herne Bay and they now focus more on ironing and are due to launch a new linen hire service this year.
As a single working mum, Charlotte wanted to get a better work-life balance and spend more time with her son, so she started her business to allow her to fit her work around his education. By 2010 the business had outgrown the space she had available at home, so she opened the ironing shop in Herne Bay. Charlady’s has cornered the local market as the only ironing shop in the area.
About the Buy in the Bay project, Charlotte says “I think Buy in the Bay is an asset to the town. It supports local businesses and builds a strong network of business owners. It also encourages people to buy local and use local services which benefits both the customers and the local businesses involved in the project. Charlotte has been very active in the project and as Charlady’s is outside of the town centre on Sea Street she has been liaising with other traders to set up a retail group for Sea Street.
Charlady’s customers are mostly from Herne Bay and Whitstable, but around 10% come from also from the wider Canterbury district and even further afield. They use Charlady’s services for a wide variety reasons, from elderly and disabled people who cannot or don’t want to iron for themselves, to young professionals those who are just too busy and those that simply really don’t like ironing! The majority of her clients are referred by local word of mouth and she also has a sign wrapped van. The shop is also in a very good location to hit the local target markets.
The overheads for Charlotte’s business are fairly low, as the only stock she really needs are hangars and plastic poly wraps, which she sources from Dartford.
About her entrepreneurial journey, Charlotte says,
“I enjoy helping people, I pride myself on customer service and although the hours are long and tiring, I am proud to see my business grow, as I started it myself, from scratch. To other’s wanting to start a business I say, go for it, but don’t expect it to be a walk in the park – it could take many unpaid hours at first and will definitely require a great deal of determination!”
If you want to contact Charlady’s, you can visit their website here: http://www.charladys.co.uk/