Minerva Camarena was bursting with energy and I could hardly keep up when we spoke by phone recently about her successful Toronto cleaning business, LV Clean. The “LV” in the name stands for Liberty Village—a section of Toronto that they service—and they have recently expanded into the City Place neighborhood. She purchased the business three years ago after she worked for the previous owners for a few months, dazzling them with her skills. “They were so impressed with how I did it, they asked how I cleaned so beautifully and so fast. Customers kept calling to request me and I kept asking them to sell the company to me,” she said.
Eventually Minerva gave the owners one month notice because she wanted to work for her own business and that’s when they finally agreed to sell LV Clean to her. “They said, ‘Of course! The company is more yours than ours.’ I saw the potential with the business and I was doing more PR than cleaning by that point.” Minerva is proud of her business success but also humble— her business cards don’t list her as the owner but as customer support.
Minerva grew up in Mexico but never had a maid to help her clean the house until her husband’s scientific work took them to Nicaragua. That’s when she saw how easy it was to hire someone to help clean for the day and she had two maids help her while she lived there. After moving back to Canada, Minerva taught ESL classes and was looking to obtain her teaching certification at a local college, which is where she met the previous owners of LV Clean.
I had decided to work in schools, but cleaning is something that comes very naturally to me. I love it— it contributes to a healthy life.
“I had decided to work in schools, but cleaning is something that comes very naturally to me. I love it— it contributes to a healthy life. And when you pursue a career you have to feel comfortable about it.” That’s when she detoured from teaching English to pursuing her passion, joining LV Clean and bringing her tremendous energy to the company along with an extensive knowledge of cleaning. With her two grown sons out of the nest, she found a new baby—her business—to nurture and help grow.
As an example of someone following their passion, she cites her son who is a wildlife biologist giving educational tours about turtles and snakes. “He said ‘Mommy, this makes me so happy!’ He works over 50 hours [a week] but is only paid for 35 of them, he loves it so much.”
It runs in the family, and clearly Minerva has found something that she can pour her heart and soul into, as well. “I could do this for the rest of my life. I was teaching for twenty years but I’ve found my new passion.”
LV Clean is big on eco-friendly practices that provide a healthy environment for the cleaners to work in each day. Minerva also believes in motivating her team because she realizes that the success of the business depends on them. Further helping the eco-friendly cause, her cleaners all commute by subway or bus (and don’t lug heavy vacuums with them).
The company is now up to ten cleaners and Minerva is fiercely protective about her workers, proud to pay them well and to provide generous benefits that include a pension plan. “It makes me proud that the cleaners are working in a decent environment with steady work. I love my team. We pay way over minimum wage, try never to go beyond 5pm, and Sunday is to relax and spend quality time with their families.” The staff all receive their schedules ahead of time so they can prepare for the week ahead.
LV Clean is very pet friendly and the team loves playing with clients’ dogs and cats. “One client has a blind dog—we spend way too much time playing with that dog. But work is fun.”
She has a ratings scale for how difficult each home is and her cleaners can call for backup if needed. “Condo A has friendly people and takes a normal length of time. Condo B you may or may not finish on time. Condo C, well, don’t call 911 and don’t jump from the balcony if it’s too disgusting, but just call me and we’ll send someone to help you.” She’s also recently had to add a condo D rating for disgusting, usually post-party, noting one unit that had 70 cans of beer in the living room along with vomit on the balcony, urine all around the bathroom, and a clogged sink.
The thing that delights Minerva the most about running her own business is being able to provide employment to her team. She also thrives on exceeding customer expectations and helping busy professionals keep their homes clean. “I want them to feel like it was worth every penny.”
She loves the bustle and excitement of the business and contrasts it with her relatively quiet life at home. “My sons are grown up, my husband is a quiet scientist, my 80-year-old mother lives with us along with a 13-year-old dog.” On days off, she’ll take her mother for ice cream or to the movies. Minerva also loves hiking through the many parks in Toronto and enjoys seeing trees and nature from her 3rd floor apartment.
To catch a spark from all the energy Minerva is putting into her high quality cleaning business, be sure to check out LV Clean if you’re in Toronto’s Liberty Village or City Center.
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