FGCU grads start home services business after pandemic job loss
When two recent Florida Gulf Coast University graduates were laid off because of the pandemic, their dire circumstances motivated them to start something special.
At first, Katelyn Potts and Ella Sagarese admit they were worried.
“From working 60 hours a week to nothing was kind of, like, a panic,” Sagarese said. “‘What do I do? How am I going to pay my bills?'”
The friends needed cash, so they started shopping for other people’s groceries and delivering them.
“At first, it didn’t start as a business, but ‘What can we do to not only make money now, but to help the people who can’t leave their homes?'” Sagarese said.
Not long after, new and sometimes comical project requests started coming in, from cleaning to completing chores to even painting a house.
“We don’t really know how to paint,” Potts said. “But we did it. Honestly, it looked great.”
The odd jobs even started turning the heads of their family members.
“I think that they kind of thought it was a joke at first,” Potts said.
So Potts and Sagarese went back to the drawing board and they came up with Southwest Florida Home Services.
“Let’s dwindle down to the things we are good at,” Sagarese said. “We found this opportunity to where we can really make a living out of this. People need their homes watched, they need organization and private events.”
The pair had never considered that there was a market for people willing to pay others to organize their houses.
“Honestly, we were shocked, too,” Potts said. “But now thinking about it, when I am home, I don’t want to do my own house.”
Southwest Florida Home Services is doing so well that Potts and Sagarese are now hiring other people they know to help with jobs. And their marketing is free, utilizing social media.
“It makes me feel so good when they walk in and they see the final product, and they are so excited,” Sagarese said.
Both women say they will continue to try attracting new clients and see how far this new business venture can go.