Jessica Blalack’s side gig turned into a business venture two-and-a-half years ago. Now, she and her business partner – and best friend of 25 years – Natasha Wampler have a mission – empowering survivors through their company Jessie Clean.
“A few years ago, my son fell ill,” Jessica says. “I was having to take off work to shuffle him to different doctor’s appointments, and it really interfered with my work. I was in a high-pressure sales job and taking time off to care for him and my father. I couldn’t keep my numbers up, and I was let go.”
Though Jessica had more than 20 years of corporate experience and a college degree, she simply couldn’t find a job. She posted on her neighborhood page asking if anyone wanted cleaning help for $25 an hour. “I did it as a side gig while I was looking for more gainful employment, and there was nothing I could find that offered flexibility for me to be able to be there for my son and care for my father,” she says. “I decided to go with this and see what happens. I like it. I feel like I’m helping people. I feel good at the end of the day.”
When Natasha lost her job and decided to go back to school full time as a single mom, Jessica asked her if she’d be willing to work with her on evenings and weekends. “We realized we had something really valuable to offer to the community, and people were super receptive,” she says. It took off from there.
Jessie Clean is a team of 11, and they are always looking for good candidates. That’s where Coburn Place comes in. “We feel like it’s a natural alliance – with our passion and our values – to work with Coburn Place to bring qualified women on board who just need a chance,” Jessica says.
Jessica is familiar with Coburn Place because she lives in Midtown and she was once a client. “Since I was cleaning houses, I had no set income or a pay stub,” she says. “Because of the resources available to me through Coburn Place, I was able to move and get my own place.” In fact, she’s still in that apartment. “Just having someone grab your hand and say it’s going to be OK is an incredible experience.” And Jessica says she wants to pass that on.
One of the company values is being judgment-free. “There are so many systemic barriers for people in abusive relationships – gaps in employment, scattered job history, bad credit, bad background check,” Jessica says. “All those things are just part of a survivor’s experience that need to be taken into consideration.” They want to create an environment where women – specifically survivors – can secure a job and earn good money, while also having the flexibility they need.
“We are both so passionate about helping empower women in any way we can,” Jessica says. “We specifically try to find people in our community who maybe have gaps in employment or who don’t have the best employment history. We want to give them a chance. We understand life isn’t fair sometimes and that your family and your children come first. So we decided – even at a cost to our business – that we were going to pay our techs considerably more than our competitors and give them 100% of their tips.”
Jessie Clean is in high demand and has a waitlist of potential clients. “We show up when we say we’re going to, we operate with integrity, and we go above and beyond to ensure our clients feel as special as they should feel when they allow us to step in and help,” Jessica says.
“Right now, we have a very solid foundation of incredible women we trust implicitly, and we want to build on that foundation with people who are similarly aligned with the culture we’ve created – kindness, integrity, hard work and a lot of fun,” Jessica says. “My partner and I don’t have a lot of time or disposable income, but we’ve created a space for opportunity. It’s a for-profit business, but if we can also use this as a way to shift things on a socioeconomic level for some of these women, we want that to happen. We want to grow the business based on our values, bringing other women into the fold and lifting them up.” Jessica and Natasha say once they have more women on staff, it will be easier for them to step back a bit from working in the field and focus on their vision.
The pair came to the recent Services Fair at Coburn Place to recruit employees. It’s an easy pitch because they love what they do. “The great part about this work is you can see the result of your efforts,” Jessica says. “When you’re done, you’re done; and everyone’s always happy to see you.”
You can find Jessie Clean on Facebook.