How Val Oliveira’s Brazilian background led her to create a one of a kind cleaning company in the United States and improve the homes of thousands

Val Oliveira_Blog Header

Read on to find more about Val’s desire to bring the Brazilian cleaning technique of faxina to American homes, how she manages her team while also making time for herself, and the surprising impact of COVID-19 on the cleaning industry.

Describe your business in a few words?

Val’s Services is a professional, high-quality, and detail-oriented Brazilian cleaning and organization company based in Chicago. Established in 2010, our mission is to spread happiness one clean space at a time!

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

When I first moved to the United States, I couldn’t find a cleaning service that compared to the ones in my hometown. In Brazil, we would do a spring cleaning of sorts each week called “faxina.” I was surprised and a little frustrated when I moved and found that people weren’t paying attention to the details of cleaning. That’s when I started training a team of cleaners to pay attention to the tiniest and most critical details so that every home could have the high-quality cleaning it deserves. 

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

When I lived in Brazil, I worked as a lawyer. After moving to the U.S., I went to culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu (I love to cook!). A few years later I got my MBA and worked as an international marketing manager before launching Val’s Services.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Yes! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always been entrepreneurial-minded. My mom owned a restaurant for 25 years, so I think being an entrepreneur is in my blood. When I was younger, my granny used to give me an allowance each month, and I would use the money to buy some candy. Then I would sell it to my sister and classmates at school to make a profit, ha! As I grew older, I continued developing these skills throughout my various jobs and learned more about business operations.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

To be honest, I didn’t have much of a set plan but just dived in headfirst! I had no fear and decided to go for it. I remember when I was first opening my business, I got some friends together from my congregation. We brainstormed and jotted down some bullet points of what needed to be done. I even hand-delivered flyers around the area so people could learn about my business. And everything grew from there!

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

Absolutely. When you’re starting a business, it’s impossible not to make mistakes. One thing that I had to learn the hard way is that if you’re doing business with a friend, you need to have everything in writing. Unfortunately, I had a partnership in the past that didn’t go well, and the person left me with a lot of problems to deal with. My advice to any business owner is to have boundaries and rules and make those clear, even when you’re working with someone you trust.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I’m very proud and thankful of how I’ve been able to manage everything with the pandemic. Every small business has been impacted by COVID, but our team continues to stay positive and focus on our mission. Even when times are difficult, we want our clients to have the peace of mind of having a beautiful, sparkling home. It brings us joy to give our clients the gift of less stress and more time.

When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?

I usually ask the traditional interview questions, but one question that is so important to me is – why do you want to work with Val’s Services? We have such a unique mission, and I want team members that truly believe in the work we’re doing. If someone says that they just want the job for money, I know immediately that they won’t be committed to the company or the position. We’re a small business, and I always stress quality over quantity. I love when applicants feel comfortable to just open their heart and explain why they truly want to work for the company. Our employees are a team, and I want to make sure we’re bringing people on-board that are engaged, respectful, efficient, reliable, and most importantly have a good sense of humor! One tip I have for hiring is to pay attention to body language. You can always tell a lot about a person from their eye contact, demeanor, and presentation.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

It’s been impacted a lot! When the pandemic first hit, it really hurt us. My husband, who is the CFO of the company, thought we should shut the business down. But, as any small business owner knows, the company is my baby! I knew we were going to survive. I took a step back and really looked at what we were doing to see how we could make things work. The most important things to me were to reinvent, be remarkable, and try our best. It hasn’t been easy. Our sales have decreased tremendously, and people are understandably still nervous to have cleaners in their home. But we keep pushing each day to do better. One thing that I like to tell people is that we wore masks before it was cool! Our cleaners wore masks, washed their hands regularly, and disinfected surfaces prior to COVID, and now we are even more careful than ever. People can trust us!

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

My goal is growth. We’re going through a lot of exciting changes right now, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the next few years take us. I hope to bring more awesome team members on board and eventually expand to other states!

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?

2020 was such a special year for me because I gave birth to my baby boy! Being a new mom and running a small business during a pandemic is not for the faint of heart, but I’ve learned so much in the past year. With more things to balance, I’ve had to learn to let go of the reins a bit and practice patience. I truly love everything I get to do as a business owner, but I can’t do it all by myself. I’ve delegated more tasks to my team while I’ve found my balance between motherhood and business.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

This is a tough question! I think that planning is very important. I’m a pretty adventurous person, and I naturally like to tackle things now and figure out the details later. As my business has grown, I’ve learned the value of having a system and processes in place so that there’s a foundation from things to grow from. Without a strong base, things can fall apart easily. I’m not one to give up, so planning is essential!

How have you managed to stay grounded this year?

Professionally and personally, I always strive to spread happiness and stay thankful. I think that even when things are difficult, it’s important to maintain a positive outlook. Yes, the pandemic has made things incredibly tough, but I wake up each day thankful to have the opportunity to do what I love and work with my amazing team. There are days when staying positive is hard, but I just take things one step at a time and accomplish as much as I can each day.

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

Yes! Life is too short, and there’s so much for us to experience. My tip is to create rules for your time off and stick to them as much as you can. For me, I volunteer every Saturday and Sunday morning, and I commit myself to it no matter what. I intentionally take that time to not work or talk about work. I can’t say that I don’t check my email on the weekend (we are a small business struggling with the pandemic after all), but I stay off my computer and use that time to focus on my baby and husband.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know how to swim! Ironically, I was born in a city called Recife, which is surrounded by rivers and beaches. I’ll learn one day!

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

I always write up to-do lists for each day, so I know what I need to accomplish and what’s coming up for the week. This way, when a random thought or task pops into my head, I can just jot it down and handle it later without getting distracted from whatever I’m working on. I also really rely on my calendar notifications. Having an alarm set makes sure I don’t miss any important meetings or events. I also love to play some music in the background to create a happy and fun working environment.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

As a female entrepreneur, I think it’s so important that we inspire other women to continue chasing their dreams and support them in their endeavors. Being an Entreprenista opens the door for amazing collaboration and solutions for all female entrepreneurs. Providing this support to each other shows that we’re a community, and amazing things happen when we build each other up!

Share it!

Posted in
Tags

Leave a Comment





Ansley Pridgen of Ansley Media Co. on helping small businesses grow

Describe your business in a few words: After attending SMU and receiving an Undergraduate Degree in Accounting, I moved to New York City to begin a career in fashion. While in NYC, I learned about fashion production, design, life, and hard work. However, I couldn’t suppress my deep love and connection to the South. After…

Clinical Therapist Kendra Toothill on how to unlock your well-being transformation

Describe your business in a few words: Hey! I’m Kendra Toothill. I help women unlock their well-being transformation by using their physical scars. I have been a clinical therapist for nearly a decade, and I help women heal from their physical and emotional health challenges by using my groundbreaking system: Scars Reigniting Your Feminine. Did…

Michelle Carter-Love of sHe Eco Investments promotes a healthier and more sustainable home purchasing option

Describe your business in a few words: What motivates me to have chosen a field dominated by men to pursue is to take part in lowering gas emissions and decreasing waste that has led to the acceleration of our climate crises in the construction industry. By profession, I am a financial coach for over 7…

Ariela Gorodzinsky of ZIBARI on founding a premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world

Describe your business in a few words: I grew up in Mexico City. Four years ago, I moved to New York to study for my masters in Food Studies at NYU.  Two years ago, I moved to Miami and founded ZIBARI. A premium purveyor of authentic culinary foods from around the world, offering a diverse…

Vanessa Ungvarsky of Taylor Made on creating her unique custom nail polish kits

Describe your business in a few words: Taylor Made Polish brings elevated experiences to savvy clean beauty enthusiasts with our patent-pending Custom Nail Polish kits and 15 Minute Organic Manicure sets.   Anchored in historic downtown Easton, Taylor Made sits at the intersection of scrappy and stylish. We are deeply connected to our community and if…

Kristen and Lindsey Archer of ARCHd on empowering women through handmade home decor

Describe your business in a few words: Sisters Kristen and Lindsey Archer create handmade home decor with their original female empowerment illustrations, skyline designs, and landscape photography. From “build your own” wood bookend sets to large wall art, each piece features bold colors and is uniquely made. ARCHd gives back a percentage of each online…

Felena Hanson of Hera Hub on collaborating with like-minded business owners

Describe your business in a few words: Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven.  Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and business accelerator for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provide a productive environment for growing businesses.  Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to…

Joy Williams & Jane Molina of Ninni Co. on being moms’ “breast” friend

Describe your business in a few words: We are Joy Williams + Jane Molina. Sisters, best friends, and co-serial entrepreneurs. We launched the Ninni Co. brand on March 1, 2021, and sell direct-to-consumer from our website. Our featured product and what we’re known for is our breastlike pacifier. It’s a technology we patented and worked…

Business Coach Mary Massey on gaining clarity and achieving success

Describe your business in a few words: My journey to becoming a life coach began over 13 years ago when I became depressed after my father’s passing. Having lost my mom at a young age, I learned to grow up fast but never had the tools I needed to help me overcome loss and other…

Candace Noel of Flora Noel on setting the tone of any event with florals that convey desired moods

Describe your business in a few words: Hi! I’m Candace Noel, Founder and Owner of Flora Noel, a floral and event design studio based in Houston, Texas that specializes in personalizing experiences for special events and private spaces. We design floral arrangements that convey the desired mood of each event through color, shape, texture, and…

Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare on streamlining the nanny-parent relationship

Describe your business in a few words: I am Dr. Sarah Nadimpalli of Same Team Childcare, a mom, nurse, and researcher.  Through using my academic lens and personal experiences in working with nannies, I have streamlined the nanny-parent search, hire, and onboarding process by creating a time-efficient online course both parents and nannies take together. …

Dental Entrepreneur Melissa Turner on making dentistry a better experience for patients and providers

Describe Your Business in a few words: I am Melissa Turner, a dental entrepreneur. I am a dental hygienist who has launched several businesses. I am an influencer and speaker to make dentistry a better experience for dental patients and dental providers. What was your background prior to starting your own business? I’ve been in dentistry…

Product Management Consultant Christina Kelley Weiss on empowering business development

Describe Your business in a few words: I’m a product management consultant & interim product executive for startups with ten years of experience in product management, software development, and digital health. I work with early- and mid-stage startups to help them grow & optimize their strategy, product team, and development processes. What was your background…

Kaitlin Nares of Hagen | Nares PLLC on helping families affected by serious injuries get relief

Describe your business in a few words: I am a Coloradoan. I am a mother to a beautiful and funny 6-month-old redheaded son named Brody. I am also a dog mom to two rescue pups named Boston and Bella. I am married to an entrepreneur, and he encouraged me to launch my law firm. Hagen |…

Michelle Dear of Tandem on empowering couples’ financial lives together

Describe your business in a few words: Hi Entreprenistas! I’m Michelle, the Co-Founder of Tandem, the easiest way for couples to share expenses. Tandem is an iOS app that eliminates the back-and-forth of Venmo without the need to get a joint account. Our mission is to empower couples’ financial lives together. What was your background prior…