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From Centrelink to CEO (and that $1M Shark Tank Investment)
Season 1, Episode 1
Susan Toft, founder of The Laundry Lady, shares her entrepreneurial journey and the growth of her laundry service business.
Susan discusses her career transition, the challenges she faced in the early stages, and the development of her business model. Susan also talks about her experience appearing on Shark Tank and receiving a $1 million investment. She shares her future plans for expansion and offers advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Having a clear vision and staying true to your values is crucial for business success.
- Challenges and setbacks are a normal part of the entrepreneurial journey.
- Taking advantage of media opportunities can provide valuable exposure for your business.
- Building a supportive network and seeking advice from experienced entrepreneurs can help navigate challenges.
- Flexibility and work-life balance are important factors for both business owners and contractors.
00:00 Introduction and Background
01:22 Career Transition and Starting The Laundry Lady
04:09 Having a Vision for Scalability
06:23 The Business Model of The Laundry Lady
08:42 The Independent Contractor Model
10:33 Challenges Faced in the Early Stages
14:15 The Impact of COVID-19
17:00 Appearing on Shark Tank
24:30 Receiving a $1 Million Investment
29:37 Future Plans and Expansion
32:55 Advice for Entrepreneurs
Note: the following transcript was generated by AI and therefore may contain some errors and omissions.
Susan Toft (00:00)
That was terrifying, walking in and seeing all these shiny sharks and just staring at them for a couple of minutes going, oh my god, is the music ever going to stop? That’s a long time to be standing there. Yeah, so as I was watching the series air, every time I heard that music it just gave me the worst anxiety.
Ben Amos (00:32.29)
G’day guys, welcome back to the Coast and Commerce podcast. I’m Ben Amos from Innovate Media and this show is all about bringing stories, insight and inspiration from Sunshine Coast business leaders to you guys, the listeners and viewers of this show to hopefully inspire your business journey as well. And one of those inspiring business leaders of the Sunshine Coast that I’ve got here on today’s episode is Susan Toft from The Laundry Lady.
Or can we say as seen on Shark Tank? Is that fair? Yes, that tagline is going to follow us all around. So you may have seen some of the great stuff Susan’s been doing on the TV show Shark Tank recently, but before we get into that Susan, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thanks for having me. And I’d love to hear a little bit about your story. So you weren’t always the laundry lady. So, you know, take us back, like what kind of was your business story getting to the point of starting laundry?
Yeah, sure. So I mean, I had a big long career in my 20s and early 30s working for a marketing communications roles. I was based in Sydney and I worked in government and membership organizations. And I was with the Australian Trade Commission for eight years. And when that came to an end, I was also a new mom and I was really struggling with work life balance. And, you know, I think when moms in particular have a big career and then they become a mum, they really struggle with how am I going to do this and be the mum that I want to be. And so I was really at a, I think, crossroads of that.
And that’s when I thought, I want to do something really different. I’ve got this big career in marketing, but I want to throw that all in and do something completely different. What about laundry? And that’s like the start of your entrepreneurial journey, I guess, right? Because you hadn’t done any of…your own business prior to that?
Well, I, my dad had a bowling center when I grew up and my very first business was when I was seven, I was face painting and I set up a little stand in the back of the bowling center and I was charging people $2 to paint their faces. So that was my first entrepreneur. No, but yeah, no, this was my first business and I knew for a long time that I really wanted to create one. I guess growing up in that environment with my dad, having the Tempin Bowling Center as a child, I really wanted to, I just always knew I wanted to have my own business. I just didn’t know what it was gonna be. And when I left Austrade and was going through that, and I thought, oh, I could start something in marketing. That’s my background, but it’s really hard. You’ve got to have clients.
You’ve got to you know, put yourself out there and do all those things. And I didn’t feel at that time that I was, you know, ready to do something like that was marketing related. And I wanted to have something where I could have flexibility and work from home and be there for my kids and pick them up from school and do all of those things. And so I just racked my brains about what can I do that I can be doing from home and saw the clothes piled high on my bed in my bedroom and in my spare room as I’m sure everyone can relate to and thought, oh, what about a laundry service? This would be great. I could catch up on a lot of Netflix. I could start this business and work from home and have that flexibility. But I also kind of had this vision, I guess, that I would scale it. And I think that’s because I had worked in a lot of franchise type system businesses where there had been scaling. And so I’d always sort of had this vision that, that’s what the business might look like eventually, but took a long time to get to that point.
I love that. That’s, it’s a very common entrepreneurial journey. I think of scratching your own itch to start with, you know, like coming up with an idea that’s like something I need. So couldn’t I do this for others? Right. And, you know, but I think that the interesting angle that you take into it there is what you just mentioned of the idea. It wasn’t just, you’re just going to start up a laundry service where you just do washing and ironing for people. It was, it was much more than that. You had a bigger vision. So Can I make an assumption that vision was clear right from the start or would that be not clear?
Susan Toft (04:55)
Yeah, I think it was clear in that I was definitely going to scale it and, but the format of that probably changed over time. You know, in the beginning, I thought it would be a franchise model and, you know, I’d have maybe 20 people out there who’d be doing this franchise model. But then when I started, when I got to the stages where I started getting advice around that, it was very expensive, very complicated to do franchising in Australia. And so Uber was just really starting in Australia and I started looking at their model. I was also, you know, as, because I was a mum and I was a thermomix consultant at the time and looking at the model of thermomix and, you know, and other businesses like that and thinking, well, they’re all focused on an independent kind of go down that path, which would be cheaper.
And I could set that up and I could see how that would work and much more simpler for the people joining. So, but those things didn’t come till later, but it was definitely from the beginning, you know, the vision that it would be a scalable business. I knew that I wasn’t gonna do the laundry forever. It’s not, that’s not my passion doing laundry. And you know, and most of the people who join us, our contractors, they don’t come because they love the laundry. They come because they love, they want the flexibility of what that type of business can provide them.
You know, if they’re working from home and they can be there for their kids or look after their elderly parents or whatever it is that they need work life balance around, you know, that’s what the business provides. And so that’s where I guess my passion and the vision really, you know, has stuck to is that our business is very much about creating time and flexibility. Um, both for our contractors who join us as well as for our customers who we save time doing, doing their laundry for them.
Yeah. Awesome. So can you tell us about the business model now that you’ve landed on for the laundry lady? So for people that haven’t come across the brand or the business before, what does it, what does it look like? What do you offer?
So we have a team of independent contractors, our laundry ladies and lads who are Australia wide. So they all work from their own home and they will go out and pick up the laundry, take it home, wash or iron it, and then take it back to the customer the next day. We pay them a commission, and they’re earning anywhere between $300 to $3,000 per week, depending on how much they wanna work. So for some of them, it might be just, you know, an extra couple of hundred dollars that they wanna get, you know, just in a little bit of spare time, and for others, it’s their full-time business. And we really love to be able to support them wherever they are in that journey.
Susan Toft (07:17
And sometimes that journey changes while they’re with us as well. So we, our customers are a broad range of customers. So not just residential people who hate laundry, but also lots of business customers, beauty salons, Airbnb’s, medical clinics, lots of different places, lots of different small business who just, you know, might have tea towels and towels that needs to be picked up regularly. We have you know, the Apple stores in Sydney, like there’s all different types of businesses that we’re servicing all of the time.
So I don’t think at the beginning, I really had that vision that there was going to be all of, you know, such a variation in the type of customers. Um, but it really has, you know, grown and all the time we start getting new niche, um, industries coming to us for, for their laundry. So, um, it’s, I mean, everyone has laundry, right? Like it’s never ending. Oh, absolutely. But.
You’ve intrigued me. Apple stores, like what laundry are they doing?
Well, I think they just have microfiber cloths and things like that. And yes. Screen cleaning. Yep. And I mean, some places just have their staff uniforms. We have lots of sporting groups. Um, there’s yeah, there’s so much variation, which is amazing.
There you go. Lots of laundry to be done and you, you’re there to, well, not you, but you’re independent contractors. So tell me about that business model. So you just, you moved away from the franchise kind of idea into this independent contractor model, which is I guess more aligned to that Uber kind of a model, right? But would you call it that kind of gig based thing or is it, it’s different to that?
Yeah, look, I mean, we get classified in the gig based type of role because that’s what Uber is. But I would say for us, it’s a little bit different because there’s a lot of consistency in our work. So most of our customers, 95% in fact are recurring. So they’ll use our services more than once or they’ll have a regular weekly fortnightly pickup.
So for our contractors, that means very regular work. They know, you know, they get to know their customers, which is really lovely as well, because they get to have a conversation with them when they pick up or deliver it back to them. And so, you know, that recurring business means it’s ongoing business for them. So it’s a little bit different, I guess, to gig economy, where you just work whenever you feel like it and earn some money.
Susan Toft (09:37)
It is a lot more regular and consistent work, but again, very flexible around what works for you. You can do that on a Saturday if you want, or you can do it Monday to Friday, there’s lots of flexibility. And also the benefits of that model compared to a franchise model is that it’s very, very cheap to join. So for our contractors, we just charge a $399 starter kit, which they get supplies as part of that.
But that, you know, we were really passionate about being able to provide something for our contractor so that they could just get on and get started and start building fast. Not everyone has the money that it requires. There’s some similar franchises out there that it costs $60,000 to set up, you know, and I know when I was a new mom or a single mom and I needed to, you know, get income fast, there’s no way I could have afforded that kind of you know, set up fees. So we wanted to really have it as, as something that was a low startup cost to be able to get people, you know, up and running with their own business. So yeah, we’re really proud of being able to, you know, offer that to our contractors. And we’ve grown to more than 200 laundry ladies and lads Australia wide. So it’s, it’s grown really fast.
Yeah, that’s so cool. So I’m interested though, and I know from talking to you prior to this recording here that it wasn’t just like,
had an idea to the moon, right? It was an overnight success that took 10 years in the making. Take us back to those, like those, those early kind of speed bumps you had to overcome because I know it wasn’t a smooth sailing journey and you know, I know you’ve got much of the journey ahead of you as well, but you know, what was, what were those early challenges that you needed to overcome? Yeah, there’s been a lot of challenges.
Look, I think in the very early stages, it was, I had all these ideas about moving it into this scalable model, but I had no money, no time and I was stuck working in the business. I know that lots of people get frustrated with that, but it was just me. I was the original laundry lady and I was picking up all the jobs in my area. As I was ironing, I’d be thinking, how am I ever going to get to that next stage to be able to scale when I have zero dollars to my name? I had a whole bunch of personal debts at that point in time.
And I knew that I wanted this big digital booking system to be able to grow that, but I’m like, well, I know that it costs lots of money and how am I ever gonna get to that stage? And so that was probably the biggest challenge in the beginning was just finding how we were gonna do that. And I started in 2012. In 2016, I went to Queensland government and got a digital grant. I was one of the first digital grant rounds, which was a very undersubscribed program back then. So I got $5,000 and went to a developer friend and said, I want this Uber style website. And he laughed at me and said, that’s gonna cost you a lot more than five grand. And so he said, you need to go and find some off the shelf systems. I didn’t even know what that meant at the time, but you’ve got to find something that’s sort of off the shelf and we can just integrate it and that will get you started.
And so I researched and researched and researched till I found a booking system that could, I thought could do majority of the job that we needed. And we’re actually still using that booking system today, but we have definitely outgrown it and we’re about to launch our very own custom system. But again, that’s taken a really long time to get to. So that point at 2016, when I got that off the shelf system and integrated into our website, that was really when it changed, the business changed into that that new model to be able to scale and have contractors and things like that.
But then I guess my biggest challenge was personal. I got divorced and I had to rebuild my life and financially and emotionally and everything else. And I moved to the Sunshine Coast and restarted my life. And I had to go back to work full time because of just personal debts and you know, part of that rebuilding. And so the business really became a side hustle for a few years. So again, that was kind of the next, you know, sort of challenge. It was those years of how am I ever going to get back to this business full time? Like I’ve got all these ideas. I’ve started it. I’ve got, you know, all of these things in motion, but no time to be able to do that and work. Um, and so that went on for a few years and then COVID kind of was the, the next step, you know, step that kind of pushed me out of that.
Susan Toft (14:15.342)
And then there was a lot of government grants around. And so I tried to access as much of that as I could. And that was the point where it was, well, it’s now or never. I can come back to the business full-time finally and give it a go. And then, you know, that was three years ago. And so committing in those three years, like the business has completely changed in those three years. That’s really was the restart button, I guess, on the business. And now it’s all different sorts of challenges, you know, but it’s still…
I think no matter what stage you are in business, you have challenges and you just have to get through that to get to the next stage, which is always the hardest bit. Yeah. That COVID catalyst, I think has been a thing for a lot of businesses, for good or for bad, but it’s definitely, it kicked a lot of businesses in the pants, so to speak, and either it caused pivots or people launched things or people closed things and started new things.
There’s a lot that happened in that time, but, um, you know, do you see that as a,as a blessing now for, you know, that, that forced your hands? Absolutely. I mean, I was, you know, working full time before that and just didn’t know how I could, you know, I’m a single mom and I needed income and I just didn’t know how I could possibly leave a full time income and come to a business that wasn’t going to supply that full time income.
You know, like that transition, and I know that’s really tough for a lot of people, you know, transitioning from that side hustle into their full-time gig, because you still need to have money to live. And so that was, that was really, you know, the hardest thing for me. And having that push, it was, I was very excited because it was, you know, I just always said I need six months to just focus on this business and I can get it really, you know, starting to kick goals. But.you know, I just needed income to be able to do that. And definitely COVID really helped me, you know, being able to do that and have the time and, and yeah. And so, and, and it’s so exciting now, because now we’re just finally getting to the stage of all the things that I was thinking about 10 years ago when I was ironing that I wanted to do. And, you know, just actually starting to do some of those things, which is really exciting.
Ben Amos (16:32)
Very exciting. And you know, a couple of years of, of getting that kick up the pants and then starting to get that momentum. And you expanded, you got some of those independent contractors in, you expanded some territory and then you ended up on Shark Tank, Shark Tank Australia. So take us there. Like how did that come about? So I get these crazy ideas and think, let’s just do it.
Susan Toft (16:49)
So Shark Tank had not been aired for a few years, I think since before COVID. And they suddenly announced in April that they were going to be relaunching Shark Tank Australia. And I’d always thought, oh, that could be, you know, something really fun to do. And they were asking for auditions. And I said to Jane, who manages our marketing, should we do it? And she always gets a bit scared when I come up with these ideas. And I think a day later, we were filming this crazy audition tape with me swimming like a shark and doing all kinds of crazy things.
Anyway, hopefully she never shows that video, but she’s got it. She’s still got it. Um, so yeah, we put the audition tape in, not really thinking it through all that much. Um, I was quite excited by the new sharks as well, because, you know, we’d, we’d had the same set of sharks in Australia for a long time. And I think the new sharks have, you know, young and a different, um, demographic in terms of their businesses. And so, you know, I was, I was really excited by Jane Lou who runs show pose.
I’ve, I’ve. you know, talked about her before as being a bit of an inspiration for me. And so, you know, I thought, oh, yes, let’s give it a go. And then, yeah, it was really quick after that. They just came back very quickly and said, you’re in the show. And so there was not a lot of further audition. There was there was a couple of different, you know, checkpoints of like Zoom calls and auditions and things like that. But yeah, it happened super fast. And all of a sudden they’re asking us for our set design.
And yes, so it was It was super exciting, super quick, which was good. So I didn’t have too much time to think about it and think about the reality of what I was about to do. Cool. I mean, I’m sure people like me are interested in the actual process, you know, with Shark Tank. So audition tape, a couple of zoom calls, you’re in the show, send us your set design, and then what you’re, you’re turning up in front of the sharks. You have to, you have to prepare a pitch. Should you have to present that somewhere beforehand, or is it just, you just have to turn up and do your best. Yeah, so I mean, it was, it was just like, I think a week’s notice of you’re flying to Sydney and you’re going to pitch. And they fly down business class, right? Of course, you know, all expenses paid in the Hilton. It was Qantas for that. I think that was about the most business class of it. Look, I was so sick. It’s crazy. I had the worst Tonsilitis. So the whole trip is a little bit of a blur.
But yeah, you have to prepare a two to three minute pitch and then they’ll ask questions. And if you’ve entered the business awards process before, either the Sunshine Coast ones or a different one, it’s quite a similar process usually that you go in and you pitch and then you answer the questions. And so I think going through that business awards process is what probably got me the most prepared for it because I’ve done that for three years now and just, it’s really hard to do a pitch when you’re first doing it. I used to run the business wars and help make other businesses go in it and tell them to do it. And now when you’re on the other side of it, you’re like, Oh, wow, this is really hard to actually tell your story in a really succinct way that doesn’t ramble and gets to the point. And so, and you’ve got to remember it. So that was the hardest thing, just trying to remember those two to three minutes and coming in with a page of notes.
I knew if I went in and stuffed that up, that would be what they air and show. So I was like, I knew I just had to remember that part and, and being so sick, I just, I was really struggling with that even on the morning of. But I got in there and I did it and I did it perfectly to how I’d practised it, which was a big relief. And then honestly, after that, I I actually really relaxed. The most terrifying part was walking in. So, you know, you’re in this pre room doing some recordings and I could just feel my heartbeat just going insane.
And then they tell you that they’re gonna play that shark tank music and you walk in and stand on the circle and they’ll play it for a couple of minutes. And you just gotta listen to the end of the music. Then you start. And still today, when I hear that music, my heart just starts pumping, cause that was terrifying walking in and seeing all these shiny sharks and just staring at them for a couple of minutes going, oh my God, is the music ever going to stop?
That’s a long time to be standing there. Yeah, so as I was watching the series air, every time I heard that music, it just gave me the worst anxiety. So, but yeah, once I did the pitch and then after that, I just felt really relaxed because that’s when they start and they were firing questions like faster than I’ve ever heard questions.
But yeah, I just, I think when you get to the question parts, like, you know, that you’re business and you know, I know my numbers, I know all of those things. And so when they were firing all those questions, I felt in my comfort zone that I could just answer all of that. It’s hard when they’re shouting them over each other, but, um, you know, that, that was where I felt, you know, the most relaxed in a lot of ways. I forgot the cameras were there.
Ben Amos (22:01)
Yeah. So you applied to Shark Tank on a bit of a whim, as you said, you know, it’s a bit of a last minute, let’s give it a crack. I like the show. Um, but did you go at what stage did you develop some goals or did you have any goals for what did you want to achieve from this or did you just go just having fun seeing what happens?
Susan Toft (22:17)
Look, I think, um, the, the objective, the main objective was really about exposure for the business, you know, getting the business on TV and, um, and, and having the effect of the as seen on Shark Tank logo is, is amazing. Um, and, and so it was really, that was the main goal is just to get that kind of exposure. We love doing any media opportunities. Like if you’re in business and you’re not taking advantage of those opportunities, then why are you in business? You’re not there to hide away there to tell people about what you do so that they use your services or your products or whatever it is. So so we do anything that that’s going to bring, you know, good exposure to the business. I didn’t really think through the fact that if I totally stuffed it up, it might’ve brought bad exposure to the business, but luckily I didn’t totally stuff it up or I don’t think I did. So.
So for us, it was really about the exposure. I mean, in terms of the investment side of things, I’ve certainly been thinking about that path for a long time. It’s quite a terrifying path, because it’s the fear of the unknown. And you were based at the Innovation Center. I’ve spent a lot of time at the Innovation Center. There’s a lot of education and workshops and training around getting ready for investment and all of those sorts of things. But I don’t feel like I’d had done a lot of that.
And I, you know, as a female founder as well, people were not as interested in you. You know, we had a laundry service, we kind of needed a lot of revenue before people would even, you know, start to see us as a serious business. And so the investment path was something I was quite nervous about. But I mean, obviously, the outcome is amazing. And wasn’t really, you know, what I was expecting or going in there with the goal of, but still, you know, super exciting you know, to go in there and get that kind of offer.
Ben Amos (24:06)
Yeah. So for those that haven’t seen the show, I mean, go and watch the show, but you did get that $1 million investment from one of the sharks. It was big news in Australian media that, you know, that, I think it was the largest single investment amount in Shark Tank’s history, Shark Tank Australia anyway. What did that mean to you? Like, you know, when you Did you realise at the time that it was such a big thing or did you just mind blown?
Susan Toft (24:37)
My mind is still blown. I didn’t realise until the show aired that it was the biggest ever investment in Shark Tank Australia history. I was so focused on just delivering the pitch and the questions that I hadn’t really thought through like what that would actually feel like if that did happen. Yeah, I’m still like, I was so shell shocked straight after. I remember them asking me all these questions and I was like, what? You know, the most magical thing I think for me was the fact that Robert Hjavec, who is a shark who gave us the offer, he is a really well-known international businessman. He’s from Canada, he’s got massive cybersecurity business. He’s a shark on Shark Tank US and on the Dragon’s Den in Canada. And so for someone who sees businesses all the time and for him to look at that pitch and go, I’m valuing your business at three and a half million dollars and here’s a million dollars to invest in it.
Like that was, I still get goosebumps thinking about just the fact that he thought he could see that was the value of this little business that I started as a single mom with no money. And you know, and have built like piece by piece, having no investment, you know, we couldn’t even get a credit card until recently for the business. Like, you know, it’s just all of those things. And I think, oh my goodness, how did, how did this all happen?
Ben Amos (26:08)
Yeah, it’s incredible validation for what you’ve built and the vision for where you’re going to take this business as well. And I know you, you didn’t go in there asking for a million dollars for, for Shark Tank. For those that don’t know the format of the show, you need to go in with an ask, right? You need to have, I believe they insist that you have some sort of an ask, don’t they?
Susan Toft (26:28)
Yes, absolutely, yes. So you’ve got to have the amount that you’re asking for, for the equity. For the equity amount. Yeah, and that was really tough as well, just working out how to value your business. For some businesses, it’s probably an easier task. We’re not a product-based business, we’re a service-based business, so it’s really hard for us to value that.
And everyone values it differently is what I’ve learned. A lot of people mess that up too in Shark Tank. That’s the thing they hammer you on the most and I was terrified of that. But, and so yeah, we went in asking for a $750,000 investment and he said, you need more money. So that was kind of insane as well because I hadn’t really, you know, I thought it would be less money rather than more money. So that was crazy as well.
Ben Amos (27:17)
Yeah. Did you have much time to consider the offer before you had to say yes?
Susan Toft (27:20)
No, like about a millisecond. In some of the other series, they get you to go face the wall and think about it. And I was waiting for them to tell me to go walk outside or, but no, they’re just staring at me waiting for the answer.
Ben Amos (27:32)
So yeah, that was pretty crazy. Incredible. And you know, I know the reality of the show and the situation is you make a effectively a handshake deal on the show and you know, then there is a whole bunch of actual business process that happens behind that investment. And I know you can’t go into a lot of the detail of that, but you know, so just to explain for the viewers here, someone saying a million dollars on the show and, you know, for this equity of your business, that’s not deal done, is it? Well, I mean, look, investors are still going to go through due diligence. Like they’re not going to, you know, just, just hand that money straight into your bank account the minute you walk out the door.
Susan Toft (28:09)
So you know, and that’s a really long process due diligence and it looks different for every type of investor is from what I can gather in terms of talking to friends who have been down this path. So yeah, so we’re very much in the due diligence stage. And yeah, it’s just exciting to be, you know, talking to Robert and his team and, and thinking about the future and you know, what that kind of investment could bring us. You know, we definitely have plans to to scale and grow continually, but also to go into new markets. So we just launched into New Zealand this year. And, you know, once we sort of get that better down, then I think we’ll be starting to look into new markets like Canada or the US and, and yeah, thinking about where else we could, we can take our services.
Ben Amos (28:58)
Yeah, awesome. So, you know, what is the future? Like, and I’m sure that changes, right? That goalpost or that vision of a business changes. from foundation all through the years, probably constantly. But where do you see this vision now? You’re talking about expanding into international markets. Where’s the Laundry Lady going? Is it a global empire?
Susan Toft (29:20)
Yeah, well maybe. We’ll see. Yeah, look, I think we definitely just wanna keep growing and keep expanding. I feel really passionate about what our business opportunity brings to people. All of our contractors, our Laundry Ladies and Lads have an awesome story about why they joined us how they were looking for flexibility and what that means to them. And so, you know, I wanna continue that journey and continue helping them in business and lots more. So, you know, definitely growth is our big goal. At the moment, we’re launching this new digital system, which is a really big task. And I feel like I’ve been saying for two years, oh, we just need this digital system, that’ll fix that problem, that’ll fix that problem. So once we get that better down, I think that’s going to give us a really solid base operationally to be able to grow and do a lot of the things that we’ve wanted to do around that growth pattern. So yeah. Yeah.
Ben Amos (30:17)
In business, there’s a saying around the idea of new level, new devil. I think that’s probably pretty true for you.
Susan Toft (30:25)
Absolutely. It’s like, I think back to two years ago when I couldn’t get a credit card and how difficult that was. Now the banks are coming after us saying, do you want more money or do you want this? And you know, and that’s, it’s like, why couldn’t you give me that two years ago when I really, really needed it? But now there’s a whole lot of other challenges that, you know, just you got to get through every day. And I think you just have to take things one step at a time when there’s a lot of it and get through and get to the next bit and then deal with those new challenges when they come.
Ben Amos (30:54)
Yeah. So where does the Sunshine Coast fit in this future journey? Like you’re based, your head office is here. Is that, are you going to keep it here?
Susan Toft (31:02)
Yeah, I mean, I have no plans to move away from here. My kids are at school here, so I’ll be here for at least the next kind of 10 years. But where our warehouse space is here, where we have our supplies that we sell to our contractors, our laundry liquids and bags and things like that. The Australia operations will obviously stay here. If we go for New Zealand, we’re supporting that from Australia. If we go into other markets like Canada and the US, we’ll likely you know, set up offices in those spaces. I wouldn’t mind going living in the US for a little bit, go and help set it up. We’ll see what happens in the next few years. But yeah, this is definitely our home. And you know, and what I think has been amazing for me, coming to the Sunshine Coast as I came here is this, you know, newly single mom, you have to rebuild my life.
And with a business that I’d like had no time for as a side hustle and I networked a lot here and I found a very supportive business community. And I think you’re probably one of the first people I met out at the Innovation Centre. And having that network in place is what helps you get through all those tough times in business as you’re growing and getting to the next challenge. And all of, you know, because there’s always someone to talk to who might have gone through you know, something like that as well. And so, yeah, I can’t see any better place to have as a business home than the Sunshine Coast.
Ben Amos (32:26)
Absolutely. So for just in closing here, Susan, for anyone who’s listening or watching this show and whether they’re viewers to build a global laundry empire, well, not a laundry empire, that would be in competition, right? A global business from a Sunshine Coast base or whatever that is to speaking to that kind of maybe it’s that stay at home mum thinking, what am I doing? You know, what’s my vision? Where am I going? And I’ve got an idea. What would you say to them to inspire them to keep moving or get to the next step?
Susan Toft (32:57)
Yeah, look, I think knowing what your vision is in the beginning, like understanding your why and why you’re doing it is really important, you know. And you don’t, like, you might not be able to flesh that out in huge detail in the beginning, but it hasn’t really changed for me from when I started The Laundry Lady to what it is now. You know, it was really about having that flexibility to spend with my kids and and the whole business has been built on that. That’s our vision, our values are around that and staying true to that is what has kept us successful. I think, you know, there’s been advisors that I’ve talked to along the way who’ve said, oh, why don’t you do the model like this, which is, you know, in a completely different way. And I’m like, well, that takes us completely away from what our vision and values are. And if you don’t believe in that vision and values, you can’t stay on track with that and promote that. So I think no matter what size of business you are, whether you’re just a one person business or you’ve got a big team, then you’ve really got to know what those values are and stay on track to that throughout your journey.
Ben Amos (34:01)
Well, thank you for that, Susan. We call you Susan as seen on Shark Tank Toft from The Laundry Lady. This has been, it’s really an inspiring story. I think, you know, whether, and I know it is just the beginning of your story as well. And so definitely I’ll be continuing to follow your story.
And I know that many people on the Sunshine Coast are just so proud that, you know, we have a business, you know, that is, is doing amazing things like you are on the Sunshine Coast here. And I know through all of your previous, you know, roles that you’ve had in business as well, like you, you’ve built a great network here on the Sunshine Coast. And so thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s been, it’s been really valuable. Thank you.
Susan Toft (34:38)
Thanks so much for having me.
Ben Amos (34:39)
Awesome. And for you guys watching here and listening, whether you’re listening on the podcast, hit that subscribe button on your podcast. player of choice or subscribe on YouTube so you don’t miss another episode of the Coast and Commerce podcast and I’ll see you in the next episode. Bye.
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