Nikki Bell was keeping very busy in TV advertising sales before she left to open her own cleaning business, Domestic Divas in San Antonio, TX. The economic downturn of 2008 meant sales had slowed, and, with two young children at home, Nikki figured it was the right time to transition to something she really loved: housecleaning. Now, Domestic Divas is a booming business. But Nikki does more than just create jobs. She’s instilling a lasting sense of confidence in her employees, many of whom needed a clean start in life.
We spoke with Nikki about her passion for her work, her employees and what it takes to be the freshest boss ever.
How did you decide to start a housekeeping business?
In 2008, I was working -- a lot -- in TV advertising sales. I was also a mother to two elementary-school-aged children, and I needed to be more present for them. I had a housekeeper at that time, and I would drive off from my home wishing I could do what she was doing because I loved cleaning my own house!
When the market slowed that year, so did TV sales. I decided it was time to start something of my own. Cleaning houses ticked many boxes for me and has turned out to be the best choice I could have made.
A Diva at work.What is your favorite thing about your work?
I love seeing the finished space! I like coming into a messy situation and making it better, so cleaning is perfect for me and my personality. I also like how our work pleases the clients. It helps them psychologically, emotionally and physically to return to a clean home.
Tell me about when your business really “took off” and what caused it to?
Domestic Divas took off from the very beginning, as our clients began referring their friends to us right away. The house-cleaning industry thrives above all else on word of mouth and the quality of work. Our ability to effectively communicate, plus our professionalism, puts Domestic Divas a notch above other cleaning companies in our area.
Do you remember your business’ first customer?
Yes, I'll never forget her. In fact, she's still a client today. Now we have, on average, 60 clients!
Nikki (center) speaks with two of her Divas.
You have a number of employees, many of whom you hired when no one else would. What do you love about your crew?
My employees are my Divas/Divos, and I love each one of them. My goal, as a business owner, is for my employees to gain self esteem and learn a good work ethic while working for me. Cleaning is not glamorous work -- it’s often undervalued and underappreciated. However, I want the people who work for me to know it’s honorable, valuable work and they should be proud to do an excellent job every single time.
I like to give people a 2nd, 3rd or 20th chance to get it right in this lifetime, so I sometimes take people who no one else wants to work with for one reason or another.
Sometimes it doesn't work out, but most of the time, it does.
I don't expect everyone to love cleaning like I do, so when a Diva's time is up, I always understand. I'm happy and proud to see them grow, mature and move on to another job that really feeds their soul.
What is the hardest aspect of being a boss?
The reliability of people is my biggest struggle. However, I do believe I'm here to help those who work for me, so it's really a call for me to be creative and patient. That’s a constant work in progress.
Nikki says she likes giving her Divas a second chance at life.
Do you have any sage insight for budding entrepreneurs?
Focus on one thing at a time, and perfect that one thing before going on to the next endeavor. It can be a double-edged sword when too many opportunities present themselves at one time and you try to have a hand in all of them.
What’s next for you and the Divas?
Domestic Divas has a host of plans and is looking towards world-cleaning domination!
Before you go
QB Community members, what are your thoughts on what it takes to be a good boss?
I've worked in print, broadcast and digital media for 20 years and managed to start a couple small businesses along the way. I love collaborating with and supporting creative folks who have great ideas. As Content Creator for the QB Community team, I’m excited to help other small-business owners be the best they can be!