Despite widening wealth gaps, record inflation, rising costs, and fewer affluent customers than ever—one Chicago cleaning service is finding ways to survive.

The cost of business is up while the amount of affluent customers is going down—and one Chicago business owner is feeling the pressure. Laura Miranda owns Queens of Clean, which provides cleaning and maid services for residential and commercial businesses in Chicago and the suburbs. Through her passion and unrelenting spirit, she has overcome insurmountable odds to keep her business afloat. Over the past five years, she has achieved an average growth rate of 8% annually–despite that dramatic rise in costs.

According to Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED), in February of 2021, the producer price index for cleaning supplies and paper products sat at $125.70. By February of 2024, it sharply rose to $210.20, a 67% increase in merely three years.

But it’s not just rising costs Miranda is contending with. Inflation has led 68% of adults to save less for emergencies. Meanwhile, in the United States, bankruptcies surged 18% in 2023— a trend that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Epiq AACER’s VP, Michael Hunter, predicted a continued rise in bankruptcy filings in 2024. He cited factors like the end of pandemic stimulus, higher borrowing costs, and record household debt.

Unsurprisingly, Miranda noted a decline in her customer base. She said, “I know of a few businesses that have had to close due to staffing shortages.” But while others have closed their doors and reduced staff, she has retained her dedicated workers. Miranda’s success amid deteriorating financial conditions is partly due to her ability to adapt. With residential services declining, she has set her sights on the commercial side of business. And when the cost of rent skyrocketed, she purchased her location.

“My current landlord was implementing a significant increase to re-sign the next five-year lease,” she explained. After doing some research, she concluded owning a ‘mixed-use’ property was her most financially viable path. The business has since moved into that new space.

The Southland Development Authority (SDA) played a pivotal role in that research, which helped Miranda through her two biggest challenges. “One conversation with Jamie [Makuch] and immediately I knew, this is an organization I want to be part of,” she said.

SDA consultant, Elester Williams said Miranda was trying to manage a growing business with inadequate communication systems.  Williams explained, “We addressed her challenges by identifying her specific communication systems needs and found a resource (EC-United) with the expertise that could not only address her basic needs but provide her with state-of-the-art options for future growth.” Additionally, the SDA provided recommendations and options to address Miranda’s security concerns associated with her new office building.

With her biggest challenges taken care of, Miranda now turns her business toward the commercial and industrial space. Queens of Clean has also been a significant contributor to local employment by generating 50 jobs in the Southland area. Though challenges still lie ahead, there is hope. While inflation does remain on the rise, its rate of growth has slowed down in recent months. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose by 3.4% year over year in February 2024, a slowdown from 4.0% year over year in January. But no matter the conditions, it’s clear Miranda’s resilience will always shine through.

“I am a very passionate person. I put a lot of love, sweat, and tears into work, family, community, and friendships; as a mom, and as a wife,” she said. Her passion is paying off—and as is often the case in history, the businesses that survive the bad times see great success in good times. The way Miranda speaks, you wouldn’t know there were any bad times at all. “I am living ‘The Dream’,” she concluded.

About Southland Development Authority

The Southland Development Authority is a nonprofit business organization launched in 2019 by business, civic, and political leaders from around the Southland who recognize the potential of the region’s people, businesses, and real estate. Our mission is to bring the resources and capacity needed to achieve transformative, inclusive economic growth for the south suburbs with a focus on investments in the Southland’s communities, industry, housing, and workforce.

We work steadfastly to connect Southland business owners, investors, and individuals with key resources to operate and thrive in the region, from equipping mid-size and small businesses in our Business Growth services Program with customized advice and consulting services, to helping local residents access the tools needed to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. With a deep institutional knowledge of the Southland’s people, markets, and history and our multifaceted, experienced team, the Southland Development Authority is a powerful partner for any individual, business, or investor.

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