With its quaint wood-panelled and green-tinted exterior, For The Love Of Laundry (FTLOL) looks like a typical retro-inspired laundromat in the heart of the Central Business District.
This laundrette is actually a multi-million dollar business serving clients like Facebook, Julius Baer, Louis Vuitton and Club 21. It also processes over 30,000 textiles a month.
What sets FTLOL apart from other laundromats is that it offers an eco-conscious and sustainable laundry service that uses non-toxic chemicals on your fabrics.
Founded in 2011, this 10-year-old laundromat has quietly expanded to six outlets across Singapore, including high-traffic shopping malls like United Square, One Raffles Place and Asia Square.
With a seed investment of S$1.2 million and S$2 million funding, the laundromat has since “turned profitable”, according to its founders.
FTLOL was the brainchild of four family friends: Russell Yu, Keiri Okabayashi, Wee Teng Chuen and Wee Teng Wen. The business is now led by Russell Yu and Elaine Yee, its general manager.
“(We started the business because) back then, the options for laundry services were extremely limited,” the founders explained in a joint interview with Vulcan Post.
“You either (find) a huge commercial chain that is focused on churning volume, or an independent mom-and-pop shop with a limited range of services.”
Sensing an opportunity to develop a new type of laundromat, the four decided to develop what they term a “full-stack” service, offering clients a “seamless experience from drop-off to delivery.”
This includes building their own factory to process textiles instead of outsourcing.
“This allowed us to introduce technology in processes that were completely new to the local market (but) because there was no precedence, there was quite a steep learning curve at the beginning,” says the founders.
FTLOL’s key tech is GreenEarth, a toxin-free commercial laundry technology made of liquid silicone. It’s a better alternative to Perc (perchloroethylene), which is a chemical cleaner widely used in commercial laundromats and household detergents.
Perc has been proven to cause skin irritation and cancer with prolonged use, and has been banned from countries like France, Denmark and some US states.
Despite the dangers of using Perc, its price and effectiveness have popularised the solvent since its discovery in the 1930s, says FTLOL’s founders.
“As more studies are being conducted and information uncovered, people are starting to realise that the cost savings of using Perc does not outweigh its negative impact on our health, our clothes and our environment.”
On top of being non-toxic, GreenEarth is also better for clothing. The all-natural silicone “gently rejuvenates the most delicate fabrics, making your clothes feel cleaner, look better and last longer,” says the founders.
“It is our responsibility to maintain our customers favourites outfits so they can be worn again and again instead of discarded.”
A 21st Century Laundromat
There’s been a growth in environmental awareness since the turn of the century as people actively shift to service providers that echo their values, FTLOL’s founders observe.
“The shift to mindfulness and conscious-consumption has also influenced consumer behaviour to buy less and buy better. The growth in demand and inbound trail of recurring customers (led to an expansion).”
FTLOL opened stores in residential and high-traffic commercial areas located close to their target audience segments, prioritising locations with road accessibility for their customers to transfer laundry loads.
In line with sustainability efforts, FTLOL also has a hanger-return initiative that reduces waste and raises five cents for every hanger returned for the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
At-home pick-up and delivery services have also grown in popularity due to Covid-19, say the founders.
Additionally, new revenue streams in household textile and leather goods cleaning have emerged.
FTLOL has also developed an online platform to streamline booking and fleet management processes.
To help scalability, the team is looking at improving their HR, quality control processes and tech.
Their end goal is to establish themselves as a “one-stop-shop for all cleaning needs for the modern, conscious customer.”
Featured Image Credit: FTLOL