Women in Laundry: An Interview with Vivi’s Laundry Owner Vivian Bueno
In only two and a half years, first-time owner Vivian Bueno took a run-down store located in the proud hard-working community of Carson, California and turned it into Vivi’s Laundry – a flourishing business renowned for its customer service and uplifting surroundings.
“I fell head over heels with the potential of the space,” recalled Vivian, who prefers to be called Vivi. “Honestly aside from the possibilities and the location there was not much to love about the existing laundry. Everything was in poor condition and it felt gloomy.”
Working with an area of 1,200-square feet, Vivi set her sights on utilizing the space as wisely as possible. First, by installing as many new machines as she could. And not just any machines, but superior quality Electrolux Professional Coin Laundry washing and drying machines.
“I loved everything about the Electrolux Professional line of equipment,” Vivi said. “The heavy-duty construction and durability, the ease of use, the high-speed water extraction, which saves on water and energy usage, and saves my customers time since their clothes are dried faster. And the machines look amazing, very clean-looking and stylish.”
Once the equipment selection was complete, Vivi turned her attention to creating an atmosphere that patrons would choose to spend time in. “I wanted to ensure that my customers would get that feeling of comfort the moment they walked through the door,” she shared.
That meant taking into consideration not only the cost effectiveness of the materials she used, but how customers would react to colors, textures, lighting choices, even the direction of how the ceiling tiles were placed.
“I feel both of these areas, equipment choice and environment, play a major role in generating revenue for the store,” said Vivi. “It’s been very exciting to see my ideas take off. Being able to turn this store around and grow so much in such a short time has been my greatest achievement so far.”
Getting into the laundry business
Vivi had been enjoying a long and varied career at Intel Corporation, working first as a business account representative, then as a business/IT liaison for its tax, licensing and customs division, and finally, for the last 12 years, working in logistics as carrier manager for the Los Angeles area.
However, with more than 20 years under her belt, Vivi became interested in exploring opportunities outside of Intel. She thought her corporate skills and knowledge could serve as a solid foundation for a brand-new business career. Turned out she was right.
“I had a friend who owned three Laundromats,” Vivi explained, “and time-to-time I would help him out. I did a little of everything from cleaning floors to fixing machines. I was learning so much about what it took to run a Laundromat, when it dawned on me – between my business background and my hands-on laundry training, I was well-equipped to manage my own Laundromat.”
Continuous improvement is top of mind
“Kaizen” is the Japanese word for “improvement.” In business, kaizen refers to activities that continuously improve all functions and involves all employees from the CEO to the assembly line worker.
Recently, Vivi’s Laundry underwent an expansion. When it came to designing the additional 2,500 square footage, Vivi incorporated the Kaizen philosophy.
“What drew me to kaizen was that it furthered my original concept of creating a store that’s logical from the business aspect yet gives a sense of wellbeing to the customer,” said Vivi.
“This meant setting up the washers, dryers, and folding areas in such a way to establish a smooth work flow; one that made the sense to the end-user, thus improving productivity. By providing a logical workflow and an overall roomier space, more customers will choose Vivi’s Laundry over the competition, which will help with the bottom line.”
Three pieces of advice from Vivi:
Multitask your way to inspired thinking. I think women tend to multitask more. When making decisions, we take logical thinking into consideration and also the abstract in order to reach a verdict. I noticed it when I was deciding how I wanted to set my laundry up; I wanted to evoke a certain feeling as well as have plenty of room for the Electrolux machines. Multitasking in this way leads to inspired thinking and coming up with creative solutions.
Embrace your originality. Regardless of what others think. Thinking of novel ways of doing something, creating a Laundromat included, is wonderful and greatly needed. Certainly, surround yourself with industry experts, do your homework, get all the practical information you need, but know that your creativity and ideas are valid too. As a young girl, I loved drawing and painting and wanted to be an artist. As a Laundromat owner, you could say that my “canvas” is now my store. Be brave. Be authentic.
Continuously improve all functions. I’m excited about adding new services. My business goal is simple: To be recognized and respected for the services I provide to my community and surrounding neighborhoods. I keep this in mind with everything I do. It’s my inspiration for continuous growth.
Vivi’s Laundry is located at 22839 Figueroa Street in Carson, California. This coin-operated laundromat offers top-of-the-line Electrolux Professional washers and dryers, as well as Wash & Fold services, Commercial & Customized laundry needs, and Pick & Delivery. Call 310 918-9183 or stop by the newly remodeled store to meet Vivi and maybe even her loyal sidekick, a white boxer named Laila.