Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Jamaican-owned laundromat looks to clean up Antigua market

Seals distribution deal with US linen heavyweight

Published:Friday | October 15, 2021 | 12:10 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Dr Onika Campbell, who owns Express Laundromat Dry Cleaners and Supplies in Antigua, has recently inked a distribution deal and has set her sights on expansion.
Dr Onika Campbell, who owns Express Laundromat Dry Cleaners and Supplies in Antigua, has recently inked a distribution deal and has set her sights on expansion.

WESTERN BUREAU: Antigua and Barbuda laundromat and dry cleaning operator Dr Onika Campbell has inked a major franchise distributorship deal with United States manufacturer of textiles and fine linen, Thomaston Mills. Campbell, who owns Express...

WESTERN BUREAU:

Antigua and Barbuda laundromat and dry cleaning operator Dr Onika Campbell has inked a major franchise distributorship deal with United States manufacturer of textiles and fine linen, Thomaston Mills.

Campbell, who owns Express Laundromat Dry Cleaners and Supplies, will supply linen to the hospitality and tourism sector, retailers, and wholesalers in the twin-island country, adding more jobs to her current workforce of seven.

She is seeking to deepen her footprint in the commercial and household market and retaining clientele she has served for the last 14 years.

Thomaston Mills, the century-old textile manufacturer, makes products for hotels, hospitals, nursing homes, dormitories, medical clinics, and resorts with a focus on socially and ecologically responsible production.

Already Campbell has pumped US$1 million into the laundry business and does work for several hotels, guest houses, and hospitals. The business is home to more than 30 washers and dryers combined – a full commercial press set up to deal with stain removals, alteration, wash, dry, fold and steam press.

Like many other companies in the Caribbean, Campbell’s expansion plans were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the businesswoman says within months, Express Plush, under the Thomaston Mills brand, should be emblazoned at her current location at the Obeec Complex, Factory Road, Piggots.

Excited by the prospects, Campbell, who is originally from Hanover in western Jamaica, expects to expand throughout Antigua and Barbuda.

“We are currently in the process of fine-tuning our distribution and shipping at the moment,” Campbell told The Gleaner, revealing that her eye is also on the rental market.

She is looking to invest US$300,000 in her latest venture.

Campbell is one of a growing army of Jamaican investors with small and large businesses in Antigua.

“Predominantly, Jamaicans are independent, we are also patriotic and always like to do business. So, wherever we go, whether in the Caribbean or throughout the world, you will find that our authentic culture of being businessmen or women is being displayed,” she stated.

The Jamaican-born businesswoman is from a family of entrepreneurs.

Growing up, she watched her mother selling various items, including her own clothing line, as well as foods. Her sister and nieces also own businesses.

The 39-year-old journalist and communication specialist, who has expertise in sustainable development, told The Gleaner that Antiguans are very supportive of Jamaican entrepreneurship.

Campbell has lived in Antigua and Barbuda since 2003.

“I understand the culture. There are certain principles that you are to abide by, in terms of the prerequisite that you need before you can go into business, such as registering the business and statutory corporation, etc.”

Though expansion is in her horizons, she admitted to exercising caution in making future investments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She revealed that she toyed with the idea of opening a laundromat in Lucea, Hanover, a few years ago, but put those plans on pause because of water-supply challenges.

Campbell wears many hats in Antigua and Barbuda, including honorary consul for Jamaica. In 2019, at age 37, she created history by being named the youngest person to hold the position.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com