Stollie starting another cycle

The Washing Well opened last Monday. Aneesa Arendse on the right and manager Vanessa Stollie are prepared.

Vanessa Stollie is proof that you can always start another cycle in your life.

Her laundry services firm, the Washing Well, launched just last Monday beneath the Quayside condominiums in Greenside.

Ms Stollie approached the building’s management two years ago after seeing the then-vacant office space, thinking it would be excellent for a washing and ironing business. Her hopes were somewhat dashed when she learned that the rent was R25000 a month.

“I walked past this place quite a few times and decided to approach the management with the idea of opening and managing a laundromat. He told us the rent and we just could not afford it. I mean we don’t have that kind of money,” the 49-year old mother of two said.

She gave the building agent her contact information as well as a newspaper clipping about the laundry she and her husband Joseph used to run. This information was relayed to the landlord, who provided them with a lifeline.

“I got a call in February from a businessman, the landlord, who wanted to know about us. He asked to meet us and told us what about the business opportunity, we were excited about it and had a few more meetings before we reached an agreement,” an excited Ms Stollie said.

“We told them that we managed Distinctive Choices, a laundromat that served the community where the Icon hotel is. We were there from 2007 until 2011. We were swindled by a dodgy businessman and lost everything. He took advantage of our poor business and literacy skills and one day we just saw our washing machines being repossessed by a sheriff,” said Ms Stollie who left school when she was in standard six.

Vanessa Stollie weighing a basket of laundry at the Washing Well.

Ms Stollie and her husband worked casual jobs over the decade and registered a cleaning business in 2013, Baleka cleaning services, to make a living. Baleka was not as profitable as they hoped but they continued searching and working.

“They (landlord and his wife) are appreciative of our story. We told them everything. We have experience and we are passionate about we do so we are better prepared this time. This gentleman and his wife is basically a silent partner, he is not involved in the day to day running of the business but they are backing us and we are grateful for this opportunity. I believe that I’m back, I’m doing something that I love and I’m eager to make this work for my family,” said Ms Stollie who travels to Green Point from Heideveld every day using public transport.

Ms Stollie enlisted the help of her former colleague Aneesa Arendse to assist her at the Wishing Well, and despite the fact that they could count the number of laundry baskets they received on both hands, the duo is optimistic about the upcoming cycle at the Washing Well.

“It started like this back then (2007), it was slow at first, and also there is Covid. But we will be patient and I know that this will be a success because we are prepared and ready for this challenge.”