What does laundry have to do with a Great Me-Set? Glad you asked. A Me-Set requires freeing up some time and energy in your life. And one way to do that is getting some routine tasks, like laundry, off your plate. That’s just what Hampr allows you to do. Hampr is an innovative on-demand laundry service based on my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. So you know I’m excited about bringing you the story of Hampr founder Laurel Hess and how she brought her business vision to life.
Families Helping Families
Laurel didn’t have to look far for the inspiration for Hampr. Running her own marketing company and juggling her two sons’ activities kept her beyond busy, and laundry was, well, a pain. She could always order takeout if there was no time to cook. But there was no way around doing laundry.
At the same time, a friend of Laurel’s who was a stay-at-home mom was dealing with her own challenge. She needed to earn extra income, but she couldn’t leave her house for long periods, which ruled out popular “gig economy” jobs like driving for a ride-share company.
Laurel realized that there was a solution that addressed both of their needs: She started paying her friend to do her laundry. She also realized she might be onto something bigger. “That was really the genesis of hampr,” she says. “Hyper-local, peer-to-peer, working families helping other families.”
‘They Love the Time They Get Back’
From those beginnings, Hampr has now expanded across the country and it’s even in the city where I live, Austin (TX). It’s the only female-owned laundry company. And it has stayed true to the mission of benefiting both its members and its “washrs.”
For members, the gift of time from using Hampr is invaluable. “You don’t realize how much mental capacity you actually exert on laundry,” Laurel says. “It’s kind of surprising how much time you have when you don’t have those mental gymnastics happening in your mind anymore.”
In her own life, Laurel has found that having the laundry taken care of means she now has the bandwidth to stop putting off projects like cleaning a closet or doing meal prep that actually make her life better. She hears similar experiences from members. “They love the time they get back,” she says. “It’s kind of a game changer. Once you decide to do it, and you get your laundry back, and it’s folded, and it’s perfect, it clicks with you. You’re like, ‘Wow, why did I wait so long to do that?’”
Members also appreciate knowing that their money is going to their own neighbors and enabling them to accomplish their own goals, like saving for a special trip or paying for their kids’ extracurricular activities. Washrs also gain a sense of community through their own Facebook group and support from Hampr’s washr success manager. “They feel very well cared for,” Laurel says. “They love the opportunity that it’s given them — that they can contribute to their household income and really do something that’s flexible.”
I know that so many #MovementMakers want to make a difference by starting their own businesses, so I made sure to ask Laurel about her experiences and her best advice. When she started Hampr, she was already an experienced entrepreneur, having launched her own marketing company.
One of the things she learned from that experience was that fear is no reason to quit. “I was terrified,” Laurel remembers. “I had two babies at home.” Some wise words from a friend stuck with her: If you really want it, do it scared.
“The idea that you can move and function in fear was not something that I had ever thought about before,” Laurel says. “So sometimes when I’m scared, I’ll just be like, ‘Yeah, but I still want to do it. So I’m just going to put the fear in the back seat and do it anyway, come what may.’”
Another insight that stayed with her came from her first timed pitch competition. “I was so nervous,” Laurel says “My heart was racing.”
She tried to figure out why she was so anxious. “And my answer back to myself was, ‘I just care so much.’ And then I thought, ‘Oh. Well, if that’s why you’re nervous, you’re going to be fine. Because you’re the only person that can do this. Because no one else cares as much as you.’”
Hampr has faced its share of challenges along the way, including, of course, the major disruptions caused by the pandemic. I asked Laurel how the company adapted.
“If you stay focused on the problem you’re solving, vs. the solution that you’ve created, then that helps you be more adaptable,” she says. “Because that way you don’t have blinders on. … Always, always asking, ‘Does this solve our problem? Is this making people’s lives easier?’ That has always helped us stay adaptable and ever-changing.”
I was also eager to hear Lauren’s experiences launching a company in our hometown vs. a startup hotbed like Silicon Valley or Austin.
“Most of the investors we talk to really, really love it,” she says. “It’s true entrepreneurial spirit to do it from an underrepresented area.”
How Can You Free Up Some Space?
Need to put some time back in your day for the things that are close to your heart? If you’re in any of the following cities, you can turn your laundry over to Hampr.
- Alabama: Birmingham, Mobile.
- Arizona: Phoenix
- Colorado: Colorado Springs, Denver
- Florida: Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola
- Louisiana: Baton Rouge, Hammond, Lafayette, New Orleans, Mandeville, Slidell
- Mississippi: Jackson
- South Carolina: Columbia, Greenville/Spartanburg
- Texas: Austin, Beaumont, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Braunfels, San Antonio
If your city isn’t on this list, think about some other ways you can make space in your life for the things that are most important. By honoring your time, you’ll lead and live in an entirely new way.
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