Life has become so fast-paced that for many there’s not enough time to perform all the basic household chores such as cooking and cleaning. But one Khayelitsha businessperson is able to help. He is more than willing to wash your ‘dirty linen’ – and he promises not to air it in public!
Mzoxolo Kutta (36) from Khayelitsha in Cape Town owns Nkomshish Laundry Services, which he established in 2013. He says: “I’ve always enjoyed doing laundry; I would wash everyone’s clothes at home. I used to play rugby and would offer to wash the team’s kit.”
The original Nkomshish operates at Site B Training Centre and a second branch opened at Harare Hubspace in 2014. Kutta did his market research and says the business was well received. “We handed out pamphlets and asked people if they saw a need for a local laundry. The response was that people needed it in Khayelitsha.”
“Our people are busy and having to keep an eye on your washing while waiting for it to dry is an added burden. Winter is the busiest time for us because people can’t dry their clothes outdoors during rainy days, therefore we use our effective drying machines to speed it up for them.”
Kutta worked as a facilitator at the City of Cape Town but in 2013 he was faced with a tough decision: should he resign from his job and devote all his time to Nkomshish?
“I’m a very active person and I always give my job one hundred percent commitment and hard work. The big question was: If I could sweat so much working for other people, why can’t I dedicate all that effort to my own business?” says Kutta.
He may have competitors but Kutta’s service doesn’t leave customers ‘hanging’. “Other launderers don’t complete their jobs; they struggle with collars and cuffs. I personally hand wash shirts to ensure that they are thoroughly washed.”
“People always say our detergents have a unique smell. Another thing that separates us from others is that we always SMS our customers to pick up their laundry as soon it’s ready. Where else would you get that?” says Kutta confidently.
He sure knows how to measure the amount of detergent that goes into one laundry-load, but unfortunately Kutta can’t limit the obstacles that pour into his business.
“Close people take advantage of my kindness and friendliness: they refuse to pay on time ’cos they know me personally. But I’m running a business and I treat all my customers equally and give them the same quality services. I expect the same treatment from them.”
At Nkomshish he allows people to bring their own detergents and wash their laundry for mahala. Customers are welcome to chill on the couch and watch TV while the machines are preparing the laundry. “We even have a range of magazines for the customers to choose from,” he says.
Kutta may have a good reputation for delivering same-day-service but his success is one thing that he didn’t achieve overnight. “Losing both of my parents left a void in my life. Sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on but there was no-one.” He mentions that his brothers, however, helped him get through varsity and become the inspiration he is today. Starting in 2003 Kutta studied Management at Peninsula Technikon (now Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and at Tygerberg College (now Northlink College). He’s currently upskilling further by doing a course at Stellenbosch University’s Small Business Academy.
“My course at Pentech nurtured the leader that lives inside me. Then I coordinated youth programs that taught them leadership skills. I always had a desire to help people discover their potential. People who want to enter this business approach me for advice and I give them all the information they need. Profit was never a priority for me; I get the satisfaction from helping others out,” says the selfless entrepreneur.
Kutta exclaims that he doesn’t earn a fixed wage, “And that’s one of the strategies to keep our prices lower. We charge a mere R40 per load (a load equals twelve items). My nephew Thamsanqa (who also doesn’t get a cent) manages the Harare branch and stands in for me when I’m not around.” But Kutta adds that he’s working on being able to pay his nephew for the tireless work he does for Nkomshish.
Nkomshish’s future seems to be brighter than the white clothes they wash and indeed, Kutta is busy analyzing the pros and cons of extending to other Cape Town areas.
“Problems are like washing-machines. They twist, they spin and knock us around. But in the end we come out cleaner, brighter and better than before.” Unknown author
#Chatback: Who does your laundry at home? If you were to open a small business, what service would you provide people?