How this Pinay entrepreneur grew a laundry service app for A-list Hollywood celebs
MANILA, Philippines – It was in 2012 when Rechelle Balanzat decided to give entrepreneurship a second try with Juliette, an invitation-only mobile app that offers premium dry cleaning and laundry services.
It hadn't been easy – her first entrepreneurial attempt was a social media marketing company that didn’t take off the way she wanted. Despite the setback, Rechelle felt confident and in control for her second try – even using her learnings from her first mistake to guide her second try.
Fast forward to 2018, and Juliette has expanded from providing service to just three buildings in New York City to its first brick-and-mortar store. Not only has its clientele grown over the years, it now also includes supermodels, A-list celebrities, and award-winning singers.
Rechelle Balanzat lets us in on the inspiring journey of how she rose from the ashes and succesfully brought her passion to life in one of the most unforgiving cities in the world.
Humility is your greatest obstacle and failure is your best teacher
"In normal circumstances, humility is seen as a good thing – a virtue. It’s quite the opposite when you’re an entrepreneur because when you’re building a brand and you have something to say, you can’t be shy. You have to be able to put the business and yourself out there or you won’t get anywhere and achieve anything. That’s exactly what I did," Rechelle said.
When she first launched Juliette, Rechelle took this belief to heart and approached a former client who owned several buildings and asked if she could introduce her service to the residents.
The go signal was given, and she hit the ground running. Rechelle went on a promotions frenzy – from putting up signs in the elevators, sending email blasts, setting up a lobby stand, to even giving out free laundry bags to the residents.
"Another thing I saw differently as a business owner is failure. For some people, it’s quite possibly the worst thing that can happen, but not to me. It lets you learn so much about yourself – your limits and your capabilities," Rechelle said.
"Once you know what those things are, you can manage yourself better in the real world. And beyond failure? That’s where all the great ideas are; that’s where all the amazing things happen."
Balance is key
Rechelle advises fellow entrepreneurs that when chasing a dream, it can’t be all heart, but it can’t be all brain either. "I was with Kohlberg Capital Corporation and then with Stellarhead before I ventured into entrepreneurship. I worked hard and I would often think that if I exerted the same effort for myself, I would get ahead so much faster. As things turned out, it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be."
Before Juliette, Rechelle had a social media marketing agency that she had to close down because of how difficult it was to scale. She did all that she could – she studied the numbers, did her homework, opted to cut losses, but just decided to move forward. Her next big idea stemmed from a personal problem she would encounter regularly.
"The idea for Juliette began to form when I noticed that cleaners weren’t taking care of my clothes the way that I wanted. I also saw that not a lot of cleaners were tech-savvy and they didn’t have a sense of customer service or marketing. That’s why I decided to launch a company that would deliver quality service with the convenience of technology," Rechelle said.
"When I first started, it was all about breaking even, but as I grew into it, I started to find the work more fulfilling and meaningful. I remembered what my intentions were as an entrepreneur and what my goals were for Juliette. So now, every day is a balancing act between profit and purpose."
Not a blueprint, but a personal journey
"Don’t go by the book just because everyone says so," Rachelle said.
"You have to carve out your own path and educate yourself with books, podcasts and mentors, but remember that you have to pick and choose from the things you’ve learned and apply it to your own experiences. You don’t just copy and paste how other people have achieved success. If it was that easy, everyone would’ve done it by now."
The trick is to never stop learning. Continously search for your next source of knowledge, stay curious, and keep informed. "Resources are there to help you be the best version of yourself, but if you’re only reading one book, listening to one podcast and conversing with one mentor, then that’s never going to happen," Rechelle said. – Rappler.com
Rechelle and other global Filipino leaders and entrepreneurs will be sharing their stories at PH Time Is Now: Mentoring and Brainstorming Event on December 1, 2018 at the ecoSPEARS headquarters in Orlando, Florida.