My Hustle – From a ‘Mama Fua’ to Owning a Laundry Cleaning Business

October 23, 2023

In a tale of determination and entrepreneurial spirit, Fiona Sampeyian, the director, and founder of Abbey Laundry, has transformed from being known as “Mama Fua” (laundry woman) during her college days to owning a successful laundry business.

While studying biochemistry at Egerton University, Fiona’s entrepreneurial skills were evident as she hand-washed clothes for her college mates. Her dedication and quality service earned her the nickname “Mama Fua,” and she became so proficient that people queued up for her laundry services.

Fiona’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2014 when she cleaned clothes to raise tuition fees. Realizing the market needs during her college days, she set her sights on establishing her own laundry business, Abbey Laundry, a few kilometers from the Egerton Njoro campus.

A Dream Turned Reality

“This is a story of a dream come true turned reality through the power of love, unity and family. In 2014, while in campus, I would clean people’s clothes to raise my tuition fee, which challenged me to start my own company for laundry solutions,” she told Enterprise.

During her time at university, Fiona would wash clothes on weekdays, and her clients were understanding, knowing she aimed to avoid conflicts over space with other tenants on weekends.

Her service was priced at Sh200 per bucket, a fee that some found challenging to pay at times. Despite the financial struggles faced by some clients, Fiona persevered.

“It was tedious work because I used to clean the clothes, then ensure that they are dry before availing to the owner,” she said.

Upon graduating from university in 2017, Fiona had a clear vision for the path her life would take.

After completing market research, Fiona started Abbey Laundry in 2019 with savings amounting to Sh47,000. She strategically invested in a washing machine and ventured into soap-making to complement her laundry services.

Fiona invested in her business by purchasing the first washing machine at a cost of Sh32,000. Initially, she focused on cleaning items such as heavy beddings and duvets

Innovations and Challenges

Facing both good and challenging times, Fiona identified the need for a commercial dryer on cold days when clothes failed to dry promptly. This became a game-changer for Abbey Laundry, enabling same-day drying and attracting a wider clientele, including hotels, banks, and Airbnbs.

 “We have had good moments where clients have trusted us over the years and been able to deliver. The challenge that set us back was on cold days when clothes failed to dry, and clients needed them. To address that, we had to import a commercial dryer,” she said.

Business Strategies and Lessons Learned

“I’m a business-oriented person. I advocate for self-employment as the way to go. Even in campus, I used to sell jewellery to supplement my laundry business,” she said.

She diversified her skills by taking a communication course to handle customers professionally and embraced digital marketing for business expansion.

“With technology, it is easy to market your business beyond your area of locality. I’m using social media space to ensure that I reach my audience and clients within Nakuru and beyond,” she added.

Abbey Laundry currently employs five people and receives a minimum of 20 duvet orders daily. On particularly busy days, the orders overflow into the following day,

Fiona’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the laundry business includes having a solid plan, anticipating potential challenges, and being open to bank financing for business growth.

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