Women in Laundry: An Interview with Entrepreneur and Electrolux OPL Distributor, Raina Bass
Raina Bass, CEO of Your Laundry Source, a fast-growing commercial laundry equipment distribution company serving Georgia and the Southeast, considers herself fortunate to have grown up in an entrepreneurial family.
“My mother and my step-father own and operate a successful commercial laundry distributorship and have done so for the last 33 years” said Raina. “My father and my step-mother are also business owners, so throughout my childhood I had lots of real-world business teachings.”
However, even with all the entrepreneurial inspiration a college-bound Raina found that she wasn’t sure she wanted to go into business for herself. Or even what career she wanted to pursue.
Finding her way
“Let’s put it this way,” Raina explained. “When I started college, I was a math and chemical science major. Then I decided ‘I’m going to be an artist.’”
It took Raina two additional years, yet she achieved her goal by graduating from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Art. She promptly landed a graphic facilitation position with Capgemini Ernst & Young’s Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE) and officially started her design career.
“That was an interesting position,” shared Raina. “It was an accelerated creative think tank for Fortune 500 companies. Simply put, I would take someone’s thoughts and ideas and put them into pictures. I learned a lot about graphic design, content creation, team building, and making swift business decisions.”
Exploring her passion
However fascinating Raina found the work, after four years in the financial services sector, she was ready for a change. She gravitated to a graphic design and marketing position that incorporated one of her personal passions – golf.
“I love golf,” said Raina. “I couldn’t pass up an opportunity that combined my marketing skills with my favorite pastime so I jumped at the chance to work for Canongate Golf Clubs. There was so much I liked about this job – it was highly creative and it’s where I really learned to trust my gut on when to take risks with design and when to go more conservative.”
Golf also played an active role in Raina’s private life. “On my first date with my husband, we went golfing,” she laughed. “Today, we play golf as a family. We have two boys, 12 and 14, and they just love it. Our daughter is only one, yet, already, she’s fascinated by the sport.”
Getting back to her roots
Although Raina was enjoying her experience as a marketing professional within the golfing industry, she began to feel the pull of her entrepreneurial roots. “I had taken on some freelance design projects for some laundry manufacturers and several laundry distributors and that got me thinking,” shared Raina. “Here was a business I knew. I grew up in it. I understood it, and this is what I should be doing.”
So, Raina put her marketing skills and her laundry knowledge to work for herself by creating her own distribution company, Your Laundry Source.
Her greatest achievement to date
Since opening her doors, Raina has been steadily carving out a niche for her distributorship, offering top of the line commercial equipment and superior customer service. Her laser-focus and commitment to her goals soon caught the attention of Laundrylux, the North American distributor of Electrolux Professional equipment.
“We were approached by Hector Loureiro, Laundrylux’s OPL National Business Development manager to become part of their exclusive distribution network, selling the full line of Electrolux OPL equipment,” said Raina. “It was an amazing opportunity. The Electrolux Professional brand is fantastic. The machines are top-of-the-line – clean, simple, easy to program. Winning this sales channel was a great achievement.”
Building her family’s legacy
“With every new job I took, my enterprising parents would say to me ‘Raina, why would you want to work for anyone but yourself?’” laughed Raina. “Yet they showed me incredible support wherever my path led me. They gave me the confidence to find my own way, make my own decisions. Which of course, is the heart of being an entrepreneur.”
Today, Raina is passing along the enduring effects of growing up in entrepreneurial home to her children. “I homeschool the kids and a lot of my lesson planning comes out of real-life business scenarios,” said Raina. “For instance, the math curriculum was on percentages so I had the boys calculate percentages on sales commissions. For an English lesson, I had them write content for direct mail. I love that business and family are intertwined. Everything comes full circle.”
Advice and insights from Raina Bass
- Concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s important to stay hyper-focused on one or two big goals. Since opening our doors, I wanted to be known in the industry as a leader in customer service, and, guess what? We are. Then Laundrylux and Electrolux came knocking. Stay the course and great things will come of it. I completely understand how busy life gets. I’m a wife and a mother of three in addition to being a business owner. Create your goals and work your plan until you achieve them. Create and achieve – then move on to the next set of goals.
- Know that you belong. The commercial and professional laundry business is largely male. Initially everyone assumes I’m ‘just the wife.’ My husband is like, ‘No she’s the boss.’ My advice is to surround yourself personally and professional with supportive people. Take classes. Ask questions. I do feel that the men I deal with are a positive influence and treat me as the knowledgeable professional that I am. Know in your heart that you belong in this business.
- Don’t settle. It takes a lot of confidence to make the day-to-day business decisions and know that you’re responsible for employee’s livelihoods. Keep in mind that you’re building something for your family. When you own your own business it’s crazy and chaotic, but it’s for yourself. Don’t settle. Take opportunities as they come. Make a stir in this world.
What’s next? The goal over this next year is to grow my sales and service tech teams. I think that’s realistic. I also want our business to give back to our community. I’m very excited about this. It makes my heart happy just thinking about it.
Nobody in the Southeast offers a better selection of commercial laundry equipment, including Electrolux OPL, than Your Laundry Source. Family-owned and operated, Raina and her team take great pride in delivering personalized service to every customer. Contact Raina for your laundry sales and service needs today at 855-454-5377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.