While attending The University of Akron with plans to become a sports medicine physician, LaQuata Williams took an elective course in entrepreneurship, where she created White Glove Cleaning Solutions as part of a class assignment. Fast forward to now and you’ll find Williams headquartered at Bounce Innovation Hub. A Next Level Incubator client, White Glove Cleaning Solutions provides commercial, residential and post-construction cleaning. Recently, Williams also began selling her own line of cleaning products and has expanded operations to an eighth-floor lab at Bounce.
“I’ve always enjoyed cleaning and can’t function if things aren’t organized, so it seemed like an obvious choice for my business,” Williams said. “The idea for the name came from my mom, who would check how clean something is by running her finger over it.”
In 2009, White Glove Cleaning Solutions became a part-time job for Williams as she continued her studies and held various other jobs. After college, she continued to run the cleaning business on the side, while working full-time. In 2018, White Glove Cleaning Solutions officially became an LLC as Williams juggled the demands of her business and full-time employment. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I had commercial contracts that were paused, but when I purchased two electrostatic sprayers to disinfect surfaces, business picked up again,” she said. “I had requested to go part-time with my other job, but when that became too much, I left in February 2021 so I could focus full-time on my business.”
Along with COVID disinfection, Williams has found a niche in post-construction cleaning following commercial renovation or construction projects. She also continues to provide commercial janitorial and housekeeping services, as well as residential cleaning. She has one full-time employee and two part-time employees, and is always looking to grow her team.
“I would not have had as much growth if it weren’t for the community and the camaraderie at Bounce,” she said. “My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is always, ‘network, network, network.’”
At Bounce, Williams has had access to mentors and advisors, which have opened doors to other resources for entrepreneurs, including the Minority Contractor Capital Access Program (MCCAP). Through MCCAP, Williams received a line of credit and consultations with mentors in the contracting industry, while making connections that have led to bigger post-construction cleaning contracts. Her connections with Bounce have also led to two grants from the Greater Akron Chamber and a low-interest business loan through the Akron Resiliency Fund.
Her office space at Bounce has provided a professional environment for interviewing prospective employees and conducting training. The expansion to a second suite now gives her additional space for mixing and bottling her line of all-natural cleaning products.
“I’ve always made my own cleaning products using natural ingredients, including essential oils for fragrance,” Williams said. “One of my residential clients, who is sensitive to harsh chemicals, had a spot on her couch that she couldn’t get out. She was amazed that I came up with something that not only worked, but is free of harmful chemicals.”
Now available on Amazon and at whiteglovecleaningsolutions.com, the products include an all-purpose cleaner, a window cleaner and a non-aerosol disinfectant spray. These are the same products Williams uses at home and work, as well as when she’s giving back to the community by providing free cleaning services to local breast cancer patients through Cleaning for a Cause and the Kim Jacobs Breast Cancer Resource Center.
Just as she has juggled the demands of school, work and entrepreneurship, she continues to strive for balance.
“There’s so much that I want to do, but sometimes you have to tell yourself to slow down. You have to pace yourself and find a balance,” Williams said. “As an entrepreneur, you’ll have good days and bad days, but staying excited will keep you motivated and help you remember why you got started in the first place.”
Finding good employees continues to be a challenge for Williams, but essential to maintaining the high level of service her clients have come to expect. It’s also one of the reasons why she’s always open to learning and providing her employees with ongoing training opportunities.
“Although it’s not possible for clients to be your only one, you have to treat them like they are,” she said.