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Kerala woman’s extraordinary journey to save family from mounting debt

Mini Shaji at her laundry unit in Kalady. Photo By: Gayathri Dinesh

Until a few years ago, 49-year-old Mini Shaji of Kalady in Kerala was just a homemaker, taking care of the family’s needs and attending to the children. But today, she is a proud owner of a laundry service unit earning lakhs. In fact, her resilience and determination to start the laundry service became the lifesaver of her family, which was drowning in mounting debt.

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Mini Shaji, a graduate, started the laundry service in 2011 as a last-ditch attempt to save the family from financial crisis. She started the laundry service after she was left with no other choice but to find a steady source of income to support the family, which landed in the big debt spending money to treat her father who was bitten by a snake and was hospitalised in critical condition for nearly two months before passing away.

“We had to spend a lot of money on his treatment. We found ourselves in a mountain of debt. I started the laundry service as a revenue source. My main aim was to pay off my debt and to be financially stable. I was ready to put in my best efforts for that and wasn’t worried about people who questioned my decision to start the laundry service,” Mini Shaji told “Open Digest.”

With no prior experience in laundry service, Mini started with one washing machine and an order from a hotel to wash their bedsheets regularly. Now, her laundry service “Smaadet” provides its services to over 25 hotels located in Angamaly and Nedumbassery in Ernakulam. Despite having no prior background in business, Mini recognised the potential in the laundry industry.

The initial days were challenging, with Mini facing rejections from several clients, but her commitment to quality service soon caught the attention of local businesses, and her laundry venture began to gain momentum.

“My family is my greatest source of strength and support. It’s their support that helped me to build the business from scratch,” she said. Her husband P K Shaji, who was running a small studio, soon joined her in the venture and took care of the logistics of collecting clothes and delivering washed clothes.

Her mother Jaya chipped in with her support to take care of Mini’s children –  Athulya Shaji and Adwaith Shaji- while Mini was working hard throughout the day to keep up the business. Now, her unit has eight staff and a driver.

Amid her busy days, she also finds time to pursue her passion for dance. She is a student at Sree Shankara School of Dance in Kalady, where she previously worked as an office staff. Mini expresses her gratitude to her teacher Sudha Peethambaran, who stood by her in times of crisis.

“We don’t have any holidays. We work 365 days. Our primary aim is to deliver quality service without any delay to our clients,” she said. Mini’s inspiring story serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the indomitable spirit that can turn personal tragedy into a beacon of hope and success.

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