Catching up with a Grad: Laundré entrepreneur Ariana Roviello
Check it out at: 2401 Mission St. laundre.co.
Sonoma Valley High School graduate Ariana Roviello, ‘08, is changing the cycle on the dirty laundry business – and turned her laundromat into one of the hippest and most popular places in San Francisco to do your laundry.
Everyone has to do laundry, and in the city lifestyle, laundromats are a necessary evil that one must frequent. After eight years of living in San Francisco and not having a single pleasant laundromat experience, Roviello decided to fix her problem by creating her own laundromat.
“There were so many times I would put my stuff in at a laundromat and then feel too uncomfortable to stay so I would go to the coffee shop next door or try to run home if possible, but then you run the risk of your clothes getting stolen or something,” Roviello said. “So I figured if you could create a space that people enjoy being in while they were washing their stuff, that’d be great.”
Roviello went above and beyond just creating a nice, clean environment. Laundré is a 5,000-square-foot space that offers several comfortable seating areas, WiFi, coffee drinks and a full café. Roviello prides herself on three things: unique space, accommodating services and product sustainability.
The idea came to Roviello in 2012 for a school project. After SVHS, Roviello took a year off of school to travel, work and find herself, before she decided to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in San Francisco and study merchandise marketing. That is where she was given the assignment of developing a unique business model – and Laundré was born.
After getting her associate’s degree from FIDM, Roviello worked as a buyer for the Charlotte Russe clothing line.
“It wasn’t for me,” Roviello said of the world of retail. “And the idea of an elevated or modern laundromat kept tugging at me because I kept having to use them all the time and they were pretty unfortunate to use.”
In 2014 she quit her job to focus on building a business model for Laundré. For two years she drove for Lyft while she got funding, found a building and finessed her plan. In September 2017 she broke ground and exactly a year later she opened Laundré in the Mission District of San Francisco. Since then, the business has been growing exponentially each month.
Everything about the shop is modern and efficient. The numerous washer and dryer machines can wash and dry your clothes in 45 minutes, with each machine being energy efficient and water saving. Customers can use coins or a card on the machines and free detergent comes with every wash. Laundré has staff present to help with the machines or offer laundry advice, and the machines can text you when your loads are done, in case you get distracted by the shop’s other amenities.
The café serves a full-scale menu of espresso drinks from Sightglass Coffee, and the food servings will satisfy you with everything from simple pastries to avocado toast and acai bowls. What Roviello loves most about the shop is the way it brings people together.
“We just get such a cool, diverse customer base in here and it’s really fun to be able to chat and get laundry tips from them. That’s my favorite part; people have so many different ways of doing things,” Roviello said. “It’s kind of a community meeting place and I think that’s what so cool about laundromats, they’re so extremely democratic and so many different types of people use them.”
Despite her success, Roviello would never have thought in high school this is where she would be now. She admitted to skating by high school and not knowing what she really wanted to do. Now, she advises high school students feeling the same way, that it is OK.
“It’s OK to be unsure. I found it really helpful for myself to take that year off in between high school and college, because I got to learn more about myself and my interests and I worked at different places. It’s just as important to learn what you don’t like as to learn what you do like,” Roviello said. “So trying out a few things before you invest your time and money into education is really important. If you feel a little bit unsure, that’s OK because it’s pretty tough to come out of high school at 17 and know exactly what you want to do.”
Now Roviello knows this is exactly what she wants to be doing, despite the challenges of being a business owner. She looks forward to growing her business and hopes to expand to more locations down the road.
Check it out at: 2401 Mission St. laundre.co.