Joyce Ehidiamhen chose the name Jolly Maid Services for her NYC cleaning service somewhat on a whim. “My name is Joyce, so I thought Jolly sounded good,” she laughed. I caught up with her recently as she managed to carve a few minutes out of her busy schedule for a conversation via phone. Besides running Jolly Maid, Joyce is the mother of four children and is training to become a certified nursing assistant and eventually train to be a Registered Nurse. Her three year old son was a bit miffed that I had her attention while we chatted, but Joyce expertly maneuvered him out of the room.
A former flight attendant, Joyce came to New York City from Nigeria in 2004. She retired from her flight attendant gig after having children. “I couldn’t travel any more every day,” she said. She then became a homemaker and cared for her children, something she had previous training at when she worked in a school with her mother, teaching kids from kindergarten to 4th grade as a hobby while studying Theater Arts at university.
When I asked if she had ever acted, Joyce gave a big laugh and explained that the university system in Nigeria is very different from the United States. Whereas here in the U.S. we are asked what we want to study, Joyce said she was simply told that she had to study Theater Arts if she didn’t want to study science or math. So no, she doesn’t have any acting experience or interest.
After landing in New York, she started cleaning houses with another friend and eventually launched Jolly Maids. Even though she’s studying to become a nurse, she is interested in continuing her cleaning business as well, and wants to automate as much as possible so that she can do both. “I’ll be a nurse who also has a cleaning business,” she said.
Jolly Maids is currently a small team of just a handful of contractors, but Joyce has big plans for the future and speaks with other cleaning companies frequently to find out how they’re running their operations. “I love the cleaning business. It’s fun. I never knew that when I was back cleaning my house in Nigeria that some day I would be cleaning all theses houses for other people.”
Nursing and cleaning are actually quite complementary professions. One of the things Joyce likes most about her cleaning gig is seeing the smiles on customers’ faces. “They’re so busy and you go and make their home nice. There’s a real joy to making your customers happy and knowing that you really did something nice for someone.”
One of her favorite customers is an elderly lady who doesn’t tip with money but with her smile and appreciative thanks. “I go there and clean for her, she’s so happy because she can’t really do it herself. She says she really appreciates it, and gives me a big happy smile.”
Like other cleaning services run in the NYC area, Joyce is a subway warrior. She’s gotten very comfortable taking the subway everywhere and now knows the ins and outs of how trains run more slowly on the weekend and what time she actually needs to leave her home to be on time. Instead of lugging a huge vacuum on the subway, most of her clients have their own. Joyce also carries a handheld vacuum with her for those emergency situations where a client doesn’t have one. “It just fits in my bag,” she said.
Even though she’s extremely busy running a business, raising four children, and training to become a nurse, Joyce still finds time for fun. Last weekend, which was Easter weekend, she took her kids to Chuck E. Cheese and then to eat at a Chinese restaurant. Ah, those ancient Easter traditions in New York City!
People looking for a top-rated Manhattan cleaning service will do well to check out Jolly Maids. If there’s a medical emergency while Joyce is on the scene, she can probably handle that as well!
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