In a city with rising costs in all aspects of our lives, keeping our clothes clean is the only sense of entitlement we have left. For Ariana Roviello, founder of Laundre, clean clothes in a warm environment shouldn't be an entitled resource for the upper class, it should be for all.
We caught up with Ariana Roviello days before her spots opening to talk about the struggles of opening, small business in the Mission, and how resources are for everyone—not just the upper class.
"If you would have told me 5 years ago that I was going to have a Laundromat, I wouldn’t have believed you," Ariana tells us candidly while getting coffee at Sightglass (who now helms the coffee portion of Ariana's laundromat/cafe.) The concept of a laundromat in the city is still a hot topic debate, between time, shame, and amenities, the laundromat scene comes off as a second thought. Whether you're based in the heart of the Mission or in the center of the Outer Richmond / anywhere else in the city. For most families and single-households, the price of laundry comes at a steep lean. With apps such as Rinse, Washio, and many others offering "deals"—who wants to spend $40 on less than 10 pounds of dirty clothes? No one, that's who. Ariana agreed with us on this statement, "laundromats are important–washing your clothing isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, there’s been a significant decrease in Laundromats and although more and more tenants are getting in-unit laundry with all the new development – that still leaves a lot of us who don’t and can’t spend a premium on laundry drop off or delivery services. We need more Laundromats to bridge the gap – and we’re aiming to do that while offering an elevated experience."
For the express benefit of the neighborhood that Ariana has opened in, the state of laundromats in the area are sadly unkept, crawling with mold, and machines aren't properly regulated and often harbor bacteria from years of build up. "The neighborhood is also made up of primarily renters which means that most people don’t have access to in-unit/building laundry facilities making it an ideal location for us," Ariana tell us, "It was important to be easily accessible but I also needed a larger space to house both concepts successfully. There are only a handful of neighborhoods that offer both. The Mission being one of them."
And instead of going the SF route with laundry, (i.e launching an app), Ariana wanted to give the express service of clean clothing to the neighborhood as quickly as she could possibly move, "I quit my job, became a Lyft driver and started working on my business plan. When I felt confident enough with my projections, I started looking for fundraising and a space. It will be almost 3 years to the day that I’ve worked on getting Laundré open."
Plus with competitive prices, she's confident in the store's success: with various launder sizes/wash rooms, you can get your entire basket of clothing done for around $5.00, which is equivalent to 18 pounds, breaking down to be less $$$ per load.
Now we have arrived at the week of launch, For Ariana, her heart is pumping and excited to show the neighborhood what her space can truly offer, "I love the Mission. It's alive with diversity, culture and inspiring small businesses. I feel lucky to be among them."
Of course, Ariana is aware you can't win them all. Based on nasty comments coming Hoodline's comment section, people aren't ready for change. "I still haven't figured it out, my goal is to be very community oriented, we want to make your clothes clean. It's all about education." Ariana stated over the phone.
"I keep [educated] on issues and how I can provide services to the community," Ariana told us, enlisting the help of the Missions Merchant Association and the Mission Job Board, her staff is 1/3rd Spanish-speaking locals.
But she's not the only business who saw the inferno of the neighborhood "locals", example being when Boba Guys opened their Mission location in 2013. Co-founder of Boba Guys, Bin Chen, spoke to us briefly about the dynamic of the Mission. "The whole ethos of our brand [Boba Guys] is to bridge cultures," he told us, "we wanted to have the first store in mission, because for us, the community is there. When we popped up and first opened the store, Andrew and I were there all the time—engaging everyone who walked in. For us, Horchata is our love line to the community. Boba wasn't there so we had to mix our love for boba with the drink that the locals knew by heart. We make all of our horchata from scratch in the Mission, so we're always to open to dialogue of what it means to be a business in the Mission."
Push back is guaranteed, but Ariana worked hard to build out the space she wanted, "well, we’ve had quite a few [push backs]! Mainly construction delays for unforeseen issues," she told us when we asked about the previous open date, "I naively thought we’d be open in the fall of 2016 which makes me laugh now—there was so much work to be done. The space was basically an empty shell. I put bathrooms, offices, storage—not to mention the whole infrastructure for the Laundromat which is extremely time consuming. We also needed a water and gas upgrade, which combined, took 6 months to receive. The silver lining is that I’ve learn a ton so hopefully the next time I do this; it will be much easier."
Now that we're days away from launch, Ariana is pumped to get her feet wet in the business world. "My goal with the space is to encompass a feeling of clean. We offer a washing service so not only should we be clean; we should feel clean when you wash with us. You’ll find a bright, open space with light wood details and modern lighting." Giving her customers a premier service at the fraction of the cost, she's looking to disrupt how laundry is done. Period.
"As an avid Laundromat user, I thought it would be interesting to come up with a laundry concept where you could wash your fashion while having access to amenities. Spoiler alert: I got super into the laundry industry," Ariana said.
And for all of us, we normally have to wait for our laundry to be done. Not leaving it's sight for a second: what is the immediate fix to this? A full-scale cafe attached to the laundromat.
Ariana filled us in on the cafe situation, "We have a full scale coffee program serving Sightglass Coffee and Vive La Tarte is providing us with our daily baked goods," she said, "we’ve also collaborated with Farmhill in order to offer delicious, healthy meals such as salads and rice bowls. There’s something for everyone! It was important to me to partner with local companies and keep the offerings simple. Initially, the café portion of the concept was just supposed to be an amenity to the Laundromat but I’m excited to see how it developed over time and think it could stand alone as well."
While you wait for your clothes to wash, tumble, and dry—the full scale coffee bar awaits you on the other side on the space.
So now we are here, we're pulsed to see the space open to the public, Ariana agrees with the sentiment. With so much excitement in the air, we had to ask the future of Laundré and possible ideas Ariana is conjuring—"I’d love to be able to expand our retail presence throughout SF and start a line of products that compliment the concept and brand. I have a few other things in the works—but I’ll keep that a secret for now."
And much to her excitement, even the neighborhood is excited to see the space open. Garden Creamery's founder and co-owner Erin Lang (who is right next door to the space at 20th and Lexington) had nothing but sweet things (no pun intended) to say about the founder. "When she came in and said hello to us [both Erin and her co-founder], I could feel this ambitious fire coming from her. She was so sweet and it's so exciting to see this kind of concept come to the Mission."
Viva la Laundré, here's to clean clothing and a fresher piece of mind.
// 2401 Mission St, Mission, laundre.co
Anthony is the founder of Bob Cut Mag and the director of business development. Anthony writes on LGBT, people, and gender issues but catch him also writing about other shenanigans he finds himself in. Want to partner with Bob Cut? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org