Photograph by Karla Morales.
It would be an understatement to say that the Covid-19 pandemic created immense trials and tribulations for small business owners. Sadly, not every small business endured the pandemic (in fact, 66% of “all minority-owned businesses forced to shut down last year may never reopen”), but some found new avenues to thrive. Karla Morales, who owns the Earth-friendly cleaning business Your Home Detox, pivoted her business when the pandemic closed the door to 90% of her residential clients. She began offering her services to businesses with office spaces, nonprofit organizations, and barbershops. During the pandemic, her commercial contracts continued to grow, and in 2021, Your Home Detox won its most significant commercial contract yet (more exciting information to come!).
Karla joined her Entrepreneurs Forever (eforever) group in the spring of 2021, while she was waiting to hear back about the commercial contract that would be a significant win for her business. Her peers, who understood the weight of the lull, provided a supportive network to lean on.
“I felt bad that nothing was moving forward, and I was able to express that to other folks who understand what it is like to go through those moments…Especially when you’re working alone, it’s nice to have that support system to put you back on track,” says Karla.
Even though Karla has experience with different business groups, her Entrepreneurs Forever group was the first small business peer group that she participated in. With an experienced small business owner that facilitates each group, members have structured discussions around their business goals and challenges, and dive deep into topics like marketing, financials, and revenue models, hiring and employees, and more. For more information, visit Our Program.
Before the pandemic, Karla did not plan on expanding into the commercial market when she founded Your Home Detox in 2018. Karla’s primary mission was to create a business that supported her mom, Reina, who cleaned homes for more than 25 years, and implement an Earth-friendly approach to the cleaning industry. Drawing on her intuitive connection with Mother Nature and her Indigenuous roots from Puerto Rico and Guatemala, Karla concocted natural cleaning products and packaged them in reusable and upcycled containers to reduce waste. Karla and her small team mostly cleaned residential homes for professionals and busy families, who greatly appreciated Your Home Detox’s ability to make their homes feel like home again without contributing to health issues that common household cleaners cause.
“We know that change begins with us…and it can also begin at home where we can take small steps to create a positive ripple effect throughout all aspects of life,” says Karla.
The onset of the pandemic ushered in instability and spontaneous change for Your Home Detox since the majority of Karla’s residential clients cancelled their routine cleanings. With encouragement from Betty Franciso, co-founder of Amplify Latinx and Derrick Duplessy, founder of Duplessy Foundation (whom Karla considers as her mentors), Karla started searching for commercial opportunities. She applied for certifications that would enable her to compete in the industry and successfully gained a minority-owned business certification and a GBAC (Global Biorisk Advisory Council) certification, which validates a company’s cleaning and disinfection protocol. Around one year before Your Home Detox would begin cleaning for their biggest commercial client, Karla’s team began providing disinfecting services to barbershops, offices, and the nonprofit organization CENTRO, whose monthly disinfection needs helped Your Home Detox stay afloat.
Soon after entering the commercial industry, Karla realized that she could no longer make 100% of Your Home Detox’s products herself because she needed much greater quantities. To help meet this need, she partnered with the cleaning brand Force of Nature. As Karla continues to expand into the commercial market, she is still figuring out how to get the quantity and quality of eco-friendly products she needs.
Karla’s team grew into a strong team of eighteen during the pandemic. As the team continues to expand, Reina still plays an integral role in training new employees and sharing her expertise. For Karla, finding employees who are detail-oriented and follow Your Home Detox’s diligent processes can be challenging, but she continues to learn how to refine the hiring process as her business grows.
Throughout 2020, Karla participated in different business organizations that supported Your Home Detox’s growth, including Amplify Latinx and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Not only did she receive support, she also became a voice for increasing growth and economic prosperity for LatinX-owned businesses when she spoke at the Amplify Latinx Power Up 3.0 business summit in November 2020. Speaking on and addressing the particular injustices that minority communities (including LatinX, BIPOC, LBGQTIA+, and immigrant communities) face remains an important call to action for Karla, who also offered her cleaning services specifically to the queer and BIPOC communities during the pandemic. (Read more about how LBGQT folks and BIPOC communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. And, watch Karla share part of her story [30:47], which was recorded for the LISC 2nd Annual Story slam and later shared at the Amplify Latinx Power Up 3.0 summit).
Growing up, both of Karla’s entrepreneurial parents were always trying new ventures to support their family. Entrepreneurialism wasn’t just a concept to Karla—it was a way of being that was about taking chances and dedicating oneself to whatever she set out to do.
“For me, I thought that being an entrepreneur means taking risks, trying new things, and applying a lot of energy into it. That’s what I saw through my own family,” says Karla.
As an adaptable and committed entrepreneur, Karla continues to try new things to move her business forward and serve the planet and her community. Your Home Detox continues to offer cleaning services to residential clients for major projects, including post-construction and move-ins/move-outs. And, Your Home Detox continues to share eco-friendly cleaning tips and tricks on Instagram and Facebook.