Home » Episode #439: Breaking the Mold-Rechelle Balanzat’s Innovative Approach to Scaling JULIETTE

Rechelle Balanzat, an extremely determined, driven, and resilient entrepreneur, has overcome the rather large challenges of breaking into the highly competitive dry cleaning market with her company, JULIETTE.  With her immense success in this competitive space, Rechelle now helms three different brands and 6 locations in NYC. New York has been her home for over 20 years, enabling her to understand the city's unique mentality and lifestyle. Her expertise with the fast-paced demands of New Yorkers (who expect everything to be done "yesterday!") extends to providing them with efficient and timely cleaning services.

Balanzat has literally worked in dry cleaners herself, learned the business from the ground up, and has created a brand poised to conquer new markets (when the time is right.) She emphasizes the importance of creating a strong company culture, finding the right people who align with what your company stands for as well as the values and the needs of your customers. Rechelle's customer-centric focus and leading with integrity has allowed her to build a workforce that truly embodies her brand's high-touch model. 

On the challenges of building a business she states, "Fundraising was a wonderful learning lesson. I say that because it was filled with surprises. It was filled with decisions and outcomes that I was not expecting nor that I wanted. But it forced me to look at other ways to make money. It forced me to think outside of the box when I launched in 2014, and I was immediately successful. I was cash flow positive and prototype built! Then it was, 'let's go raise!' but I could not split my time between actively fundraising and trying to build the business. I had to focus on building to profitability as soon as possible." 

Some key moments: 

  • Entrepreneurs should strongly consider focusing on building their brand locally first. 
  • Pete's gas station encounter with a Top Golf Culinary Team Manager. 
  • Client relations matter, creating a motivated culture.
  • Sexy NYC brand that caters to high performers. JULIETTE is a brand that stands alone in the dry cleaning space. 
  • Price list is not the primary decision factor. The whole experience matters.
  • Success is defined by personal decisions and opportunities.

A few key takeaways: 

  1. Rechelle emphasizes the importance of understanding the needs and demands of customers, especially in a highly competitive area like NYC. She saw an opportunity to disrupt the fragmented and antiquated market by providing a more modern, high tech, and customer-centric approach.
  2. Unlike previous dry cleaning businesses that focused on scalability and centralization, Rechelle's company takes a more personalized approach. She focuses on providing high-touch, high-quality care for garments and ensuring customers receive their items back in the time promised.
  3. Hiring and training the right type of people is a significant challenge for any business. Rechelle prioritizes creating a culture centered around consumer satisfaction, leading with integrity, and finding employees who embody care and attention to detail.
  4. There's no "fun" in fundraising! Rechelle's business is totally self-funded and, while VC's are definitely paying attention now, one of her goals is to shed further light on the inequities that exist for women and minorities in the fundraising world. 

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