East London could soon be filled with pink flamingos – not the attractive wading bird, but rather a flamboyance of pink mobile car washing devices and the women who operate them.
Business partners and couple Brad Johnson and Natalie Ferreira started their Miss Flamingo Eco Wash in October and hope the innovative concept will soar in the Eastern Cape city, DispatchLIVE reports.
The two, who provide financial services to hardware stores, were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown and put heads together to find a more resilient business while also empowering others. “I have a background in marketing and Natalie is a CA.
We wanted to find a business that was a bit more economically viable in these times but also easily managed,” Johnson says.
Ferreira says they are also looking to help others, especially women who had lost jobs or livelihoods because of the lockdown. “A big factor that we looked at when deciding what to do was that so many people, especially low-skilled labourers, had lost their jobs.
They were often the first to be cut and many of them were women,” Ferreira says. “We wanted to find a way to create employment for these women who were hit the hardest.” The business model works as more of a partnership than on an employer- employee basis.
Each flamingo and the woman who operates it works as one business unit, while Johnson and Ferreira offer the initial capital, machines, marketing and booking services.
“We work in the background, manage the bookings, run the website and the machines stay with us, but it’s a 50/50 partnership,” Johnson says.
With each unit they will first deduct the various costs involved in running them, such as supply costs, but profits are shared equally.
Ferreira says a big part of Miss Flamingo is coaching and training women to manage their own costs, and eventually run their own businesses.
“The idea is to have them run and manage everything themselves so if they want to employ helpers or eventually run a team of flamingos, they will have the skills to do that.” Starting out at various businesses in Berea and Vincent, Miss Flamingo Eco Wash currently has one machine and Zikhona Simbonde, 28, is the first flamingo operator in the city.
“It’s such a great idea and opportunity, and I’m so excited and happy to be the first Miss Flamingo.
“Lockdown affected me badly and there were days siting at home not earning an income. There are so many of us in that situation so I hope we can get many more flamingos working,” Simbonde, a domestic worker, says.
Offering an exterior, interior or full wash options, every Miss Flamingo wash is eco-friendly. It has a 50-litre water tank, a water pump and hose, as well as a 12-watt battery and vacuum cleaner.
Detergents are biodegradable and stored inside the flamingo. “An average car wash takes about 100 litres of water and a higher water pressure. With the 50 litres in the flamingos we can do a full day of washing, because the detergents we use require less water,” Johnson says.
“It’s also really convenient because we come to you so you don’t have to take time out of your day; your car can be washed while you’re at work.” Ferreira says Miss Flamingo is a fun project with potential to grow.
“It’s scalable and it can grow fairly quickly and easily, we just need to get people on board with the concept.”