Veronice Biscalquim was visiting a friend in the U.S. from her native Brazil when she realized she wanted to move to the States. “I liked everything that I saw! The opportunity here was better than it was in Brazil,” said Veronice. She fearlessly moved thousands of miles by herself without knowing how to speak English to make a new home in the Boston area. She began to take language classes and look for work as soon as she settled in, and quickly decided to start her own business, Outstanding Cleaning.
“When I was in Brazil, I used to manage three businesses: a supermarket with three hundred employees, an office with twenty-five employees, and from 4pm until 11pm I managed a gym. I would start my day at six in the morning and not be done until nearly midnight. It was crazy! The money I was getting from a whole month of work there was equal to what I could make in a week in the U.S. with my cleaning business,” she said.
In Boston, she started out by slowly building her reputation as a reliable and thorough cleaning service. Her clients were thrilled with the high quality of her work and one woman offered Veronice and her daughter, Nicole (now nine years old), a place to stay in the winter if she found her apartment to be too cold. This client remains loyal to Outstanding Cleaning and told Veronice that whenever she needed her, she would be there to support her. “When people see that you work hard and make a difference in their lives, they are open to helping you,” she said.
Her daughter, Nicole, sometimes comes along when Veronice is putting the final touches on an Airbnb turnover. Veronice will occasionally allow Nicole to help and receives a well-deserved bubble tea afterward as a reward. Nicole has always been deeply committed to helping her mother’s business succeed, trumpeting her services to strangers wherever they went. “She would go up to people in restaurants, church, the market, meetings, and go ‘Do you need a housecleaner? My mom does that!’ She’s so proud of me,” said Veronice. When she explained to Nicole that Outstanding Cleaning helps people who are too busy to clean for their families, Nicole asked when they were going to get a housecleaner so that Veronice could spend more time with her.
In addition to the help that her daughter provides occasionally, Outstanding Cleaning has a staff of five talented women who do most of the cleaning while Veronice focuses on administrative work, sales, and marketing. “They are very sweet. I treat them like my friends,” she said. Always on the lookout to help people, Veronice suggested that Nicole’s babysitter join her cleaning crew once Nicole outgrew the need for her sitting services. “She’s been working with me ever since.”
Right now, Veronice is looking to hire an assistant to help her manage the office work, as she grows the business and expands into taking on state and federal cleaning job contracts. She gets help from the Center for Women and Enterprise in Boston which offers advice and classes. One woman reached out to her with questions about how she handles marketing and Veronice realized that she needed to take her own advice about getting additional support so she could focus on marketing.
She has encouraged her friends to pursue the cleaning business as well, despite warning them that it’s not easy. “You can do it if you’re persistent. But don’t think that money will just rain from the sky,” she said. Her friend has a cleaning business in the same market as Veronice, but there are more than enough jobs to go around and the two send each other referrals if their schedule doesn’t allow for a particular booking.
While she’s now mostly in the office, Veronice did spend many years doing hands-on cleaning, so she saw a lot of interesting things. Her most memorable was cleaning a house with a friend, and the friend encountered a huge spider. “She came out screaming, ‘There’s a spider!’ and got the broom and killed it. Then she showed it to the client who told us that was her son’s pet spider. I’m still scarred from that!”
The favorite part of her job is being able to meet interesting people and keep busy, even if that means working almost around the clock. “You own your own business to have freedom but then you don’t really have free time. But it is freedom because I’m doing my own thing. When I was growing up in Brazil, they used to give speeches about how you can always do better, be a better generation. I grew up in that environment. And that’s what I’m trying to show to my daughter. I want her to be proud of what she does.”
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