How Juliette is Using Technology to Modernize Dry Cleaning and Laundry Featured in Inc.
In 2013, JULIETTE’s founder Rechelle Balanzat was able to get her dinner delivered seamlessly but not her laundry. That was a lightbulb moment for her and how the idea of JULIETTE was created.
A year later, she started JULIETTE, a premium laundry and dry cleaning company, and launched an app that made it easy for customers to get their laundry picked up and dropped off, as well as AI-assisted texting, GPS tracking, and ETA updates for clients orders.
Rechelle has been a big fan of technology since the early days of social media. In 2009, she started her own social media company in New York City, called Johnny Social, and it was based in the city. As time went on, she ran her business for a little less than four years. She made the decision to close her social media agency and join as the marketing manager for Romio, an early-stage tech company.
During her time in the tech world, she made connections with engineers, one of whom she eventually persuaded to help her build JULIETTE's app.
In addition to JULIETTE being a tech company, Rechelle had to ensure that orders were washed to the highest standards. A laundromat initially seemed like a good idea, but she quickly realized it was a trust issue. She couldn't just give the clothes away. So she made a deal with a local laundromat after cold-calling several.
With no capital investment, these opportunities to save money were critical in keeping the company afloat in the early stages. While Rechelle has been able to raise some money, it hasn't been easy. She first tried to secure an outside investment in 2017 and was rejected but eventually found a way. Instead of going through venture capitalists, she has primarily raised funds through personal connections and those who directly approach her.
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, things changed dramatically and had a significant impact on the dry cleaning industry. New Yorkers were no longer laundering their suits and cocktail dresses. JULIETTE had to lay off 70% of its workforce and lost 90% of its annual revenue. The Tory Burch Foundation, which helps female founders of early-stage companies grow and scale through mentorship and networking opportunities, helped Rechelle during this difficult time. But things are looking up as JULIETTE plans to open three more Manhattan locations this year and hire more staff.
JULIETTE's black velvet hangers and distinctive branding are a standout in the industry. Unlike its competitors, the JULIETTE app and website feature black-and-white photography reminiscent of fashion editorials. Rechelle has built JULIETTE’s brand value on luxury. New Yorkers love fashion and love their clothes - they are not going to send their Gucci dress or Tom Ford suits to just any cleaner.
Read more on Inc.com here.