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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Camren Chamberlain can still vividly remember the moment he got the news.
The Charlottetown man, who is the owner of The House Fairy Cleaning Services, had just finished his day’s cleaning work when he noticed an email.
It said he won a $10,000 award for young entrepreneurs as part of the third annual Rock My Business Start-Up Awards.
“It was pretty crazy, didn’t really sink in right away because not only is it, ‘Okay, I won in this competition,’ there was a $10,000 grant attached to it, which is a huge thing for someone with a small business,” Chamberlain told SaltWire in an interview Oct. 5.
“That’s a large amount of money that can really make or break the growth plan that I have set out.”
Chamberlain was one of eight recipients from across the country to receive the grant which supports startup businesses. The annual competition is presented by Futurpreneur and RBC.
“It is very competitive. We had about 200 applications for this year’s award. And to have Camren as one of our recipients is wonderful,” said Janis Nixon, who is vice president of programs and partnerships at Futurpreneur.
How it started
Chamberlain’s journey into the cleaning industry began in the summer of 2021 when he was working at a campground.
During that time, he was helping his boss, who had gotten injured and needed help with cleaning tasks, which sparked the idea for his cleaning company. He initially worked as a cleaner part-time throughout the winter and continued doing so until the following summer.
“By the end of that summer, I realized that there would be potential with the cleaning industry. And so, I decided to give that a shot.
“I started working full-time at The House Fairy in the fall of last year,” he said. “Since then, the business has grown quite significantly.”
The startup has gone from Chamberlain working alone to having a team of seven members. The company now offers residential, commercial, and AirBnB cleaning services, primarily in Queens County.
Chamberlain, who is transgender, said he is proud to have a number of LGBTQ individuals on his team.
“Having (LGBTQ) people on our team … it provides an inclusive atmosphere for not just our staff, but for our clients. And then just being out in the workforce – it brings awareness.” – Camren Chamberlain
“Having (LGBTQ) people on our team … it provides an inclusive atmosphere for not just our staff, but for our clients. And then just being out in the workforce, it’s, it brings awareness,” he said.
“When I have clients that might not be well-versed with or have much exposure to the LGBTQ community, if I’m able to openly talk about, ‘OK, these are my pronouns, and also my staff that might be cleaning for you, these are their pronouns,’ it just kind of starts the conversation.”
Chamberlain said he was “pleasantly surprised” when he first began his business and visited clients’ homes to provide cleaning services, and many of them asked him about his pronouns.
“That was crucial for me to see, OK, I can be open, and I can be who I am and be myself, and be able to kind of pave the way for other entrepreneurs to be out and open, as representation for the community.”
Going after opportunities
Earlier this year, Chamberlain wanted to learn more about how to effectively run a business, leading him to Futurpreneur’s Rock My Business series.
Nixon said the free training workshops provide all the essential business fundamentals, such as creating a business plan and managing cash flow.
“It really helps build confidence and preparedness for individuals who are looking to pursue entrepreneurship as a pathway,” she said.
After completing the series, Chamberlain met the eligibility criteria to participate in the Rock My Business Start-Up Awards. He submitted his application for the competition this summer.
The Charlottetown entrepreneur said while he plans to make good use of the grant, he doesn’t intend to spend it all right away.
“The grant to me gives me the ability to go after any opportunities that might come up in the next couple of years. So having an extra 10,000 in my business savings, it’ll allow me so there’s different ways to grow businesses, such as acquiring another business or using the funds for promotion of the business, he said.
“I’m going to wait and see, and now I have those reserves for whenever those opportunities come my way.
Thinh Nguyen is a business reporter with SaltWire in Prince Edward Island. He can be reached by email at [email protected] and followed on X @thinhnguyen4291.