A commercial cleaning company headed up by Rachael Flanagan has scooped ‘Business of the Year’ at the inaugural Welsh Women’s Awards in Cardiff.
The Welsh Women’s Awards 2019 aim to acknowledge and celebrate the success of women entrepreneurs, business women, professionals, civil servants, women in uniform, charity workers and many more that contribute in making Wales a greater place to live in. The awards embody the continuing strength, grit and determination of women, honouring those who continue to thrive, excelling them at the forefront of their industries.
Mrs Buckét Cleaning Services, based in Swansea, was started by Rachael Flanagan when she was just 17 years old. She couldn’t even afford a Hoover when I started the business, but now it’s worth £3.5 million and she employs 280 staff.
Spending just £20 on flyers, the entrepreneurial Welsh mum managed to drum up some business for her fledgling cleaning company Mrs Buckét – pronounced Bouquet – which is now worth a huge £3.5 million.
Rachael, who gave birth to her second child just two weeks ago, said:
“I got average grades in media, art and IT at college, but I got a U in business. When I look back, that was probably the most defining moment in my life.
“If I’d got a C, I might have gone down the university route and wouldn’t be in the situation I am now – but it gave me a drive to prove people wrong.
“People told me ‘you can’t have a business if you had a U Rachael, don’t be so stupid, you’re only going to be a cleaner, you’ll never be a businesswoman'.
“Those comments continued for a couple of years, but that was the grit inside me which got me up every morning at 5am.
She was physically cleaning for 50 hours a week herself, doing bookkeeping on Saturdays, visiting customers to price up jobs in the evenings and handing out more flyers on Sundays.
“I was about a year in when I hired a couple of members of staff and by the time I was 21 we had 20 members of staff.
“Then I won a UK Young Entrepreneur Award, that was a really inspiring moment because it was out of 1,400 people. I made a promise with myself to stop cleaning, so I could really grow the business.”
By 2018, Mrs Buckét Cleaning Services had 140 daily commercial clients on the books – working across Wales and Bristol.
The company's clients include Brains Brewery, schools, warehouses, offices and community facilities the domestic arm of the business was sold last year.
She now has 280 members of staff on payroll – but it's been far from plain sailing.
“I've learned to stop taking negative advice from people who aren't actually doing this job, I surround myself with other entrepreneurs instead. I am absolutely over the moon to be recognised by The Welsh Women’s Business Awards. Although I have just had a baby and sadly couldn’t attend, I am delighted that the company has been recognised in this way – what a great boost for 2019.”
Collecting the award on Rachael’s behalf, Senior Sales Manager Sarah Pruett said:
“It was a glittering night in Cardiff, recognising some truly inspirational women and businesses. We got to hear some phenomenal stories and chat to some outstanding business people.
“Rachael’s aim is to change and challenge the perception of the cleaning sector and to reward and recognise everyone in the company. This will mean a huge amount to everyone, especially to Rachael.”