Two recent Cal Poly graduates have just opened a useful and affordable laundry service called Fresh Threads, near Aida’s and Kona’s on Foothill Boulevard.
When Ryan Bianchi and Nathan Miller met eachother in class a few years ago, neither one of them was planning on going into business after college. But soon after Miller graduated in December, the two decided to combine their life savings and start their own business. On April 3, they opened the doors to Fresh Threads, in what they hope will become a household name, synonymous with laundry here in San Luis Obispo.
Bianchi and Miller had previously worked together on school projects and had discussed the idea of opening a business in San Luis Obispo when Miller suggested the idea of a laundry service, Bianci said.
For just $7.80 per load, Fresh Threads will pick up your laundry, wash it, fold it, bundle it and then bring it back to your house. Delivery and pickup are included in the price. Bianchi said that one load is about the equivalent of three pairs of pants, 10 shirts, seven pairs of underwear and seven pairs of socks. Females’ clothes are usually smaller and more can fit into a single load.
Penny-pinchers can pay half-price on “Freeball Fridays,” named after what guys do when they run out of clean laundry. With that deal, it’s less than $8 for about two weeks of laundry and, as Bianchi said, “you never have to leave your couch.”
“It just makes sense,” Miller said, “It’s a business that hasn’t ever been done on the Central Coast … It’s just done in major metropolitan areas like Long Beach and downtown L.A. for businesspeople. But it’s never really been offered cost-effectively to students.”
“Once people use this business once – and we’re beginning to find that this is true – they’re not going to stop,” Bianchi said. “We’re cheaper than a laundromat, and we’re right down to the pennies of doing it yourself at home, with old appliances. There are no worries. We’ll come out to your job, we’ll come to your class, and we’ll come to your dorm room and just take care of it there.”
Although Miller and Bianchi’s target customers are college students, they also feel that their services would be incredibly useful to families and for those who don’t have time to wait for their laundry to finish.
“That’s the image we want to put off to the people using our service,” Bianchi added. “We’re your laundry servants. We’re not targeting wealthy people. We’re not targeting CEO’s. We’re targeting the everyday person who goes to school or goes to work. That’s why our prices are so low. We’re not looking to cash in on rich people or anything like that; we’re just looking to service the working people from right here in San Luis Obispo.”
“We know we’re going to make everyone happy,” Miller added. “There’s some people’s laundry that we’ve found stains on that they hadn’t even noticed. We don’t even say anything, we just spot treat it, and try to put in the extra effort to make sure everyone’s satisfied.”
In addition to offering a useful service to the community, Miller and Bianchi’s story serves as encouragement for any student that hopes to open their own business after graduation. Neither had any prior experience with opening a business, and were forced to learn things as they went along.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s like rolling the dice,” Bianchi said. “As fun as this is, and as much as we think the potential is there for us to serve the community, it’s how the community reacts to what we offer.”
For this reason, Miller and Bianchi said they know they must hand every customer’s laundry with care.
“As small as this town is, and as fast as you can make a good name for yourself, you can make a bad one just as fast,” Bianchi said.
Although many people have been willing to help them along the way, they were worried that their young age would rob them of the respect they deserved.
“We had to try and stay ahead of the game, because we’re young and people aren’t going to respect us as much as they would an older person,” Bianchi said. “But I would say that the whole thing is way more positive than I thought it was going to be. Lots of people have been really helpful.”
Although the two agree that opening their own business has been extremely rewarding, they are currently running the business completely by themselves, and have been forced to put in 10-hour days at Fresh Threads. In addition, they have been putting in part-time hours at their old jobs in order to make rent. Miller and Bianchi are planning to hire a few more employees as the business increases. Their ultimate goal is to one day quit their old jobs and focus on this new business. However, the financial struggles that accompany being a young businessman are putting that idea on hold.
“When I’m in here, I’m stoked,” Miller said, “I’m like, ‘Yeah, that’s right, this is a product of our work.’ But at the same time, when I go home, I’m thinking ‘I hope the cell phone bill didn’t come today.’”
“It’s not comfortable. By all means, it’s not,” Bianchi said. “You don’t have a paycheck, you know? I don’t know how much money I’m going to make this week, or if I’m even going to make any. The whole idea of it is: You put in that time and you put in that sacrifice. I’m working twice as hard as I was when I was just working a normal construction job, and I’m making no money. You worry about that a lot, but the worry goes away the instant that somebody walks through the door with their laundry. You’re pumped. It’s like, this is why I do this, this is why I work so hard. And it really is worth it in the long run, but the majority of the time, you’re sitting there sweating.”
Fresh Threads is located at 973 Foothill Blvd. and is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. To take advantage of their free pickup service, give them a call at (805) 541-1848.