Nancy Hodge has always wanted to become more independent.
Hodge is a participant of Atelier de Clare in Church Point and for her, independence means being able to provide for herself.
“I don’t like to sit around, I try and keep myself busy,” she said.
Atelier de Clare is a a social enterprise and adult service centre providing day programs to adults with special needs.
Hodge always dreamed of owning her own business but with a limited budget she wasn’t sure how.
In 2017 Atelier de Clare hired a job coach, Dominique Jaume, to help clients make their goals a reality.
For a lot of clients that meant finding a job. But for Nancy, it meant starting her own business.
In July 2017 Hodge got a small start-up budget through a grant, to help open her own business called Fancy Nancy’s cleaning.
“I always wanted my own business and now I have one,” she said smiling.
She decided to name her business Fancy Nancy’s because some of her friends at Atelier de Clare call her that.
Hodge has always been passionate about cleaning. When she was growing up she didn’t have cable TV or a cell phone to pass the time. Instead, her mom taught her how to clean.
“I always liked cleaning,” Hodge said.
“Nancy is probably the only person I know who enjoys cleaning bathrooms,” added Carolyn Sloan, Executive Director at Atelier de Clare.
Hodge has gained a number of clients who keep coming back to her time after time. She cleans residential properties, commercial properties and cars.
“I don’t get to see Nancy much anymore, she’s always busy now,” says Sloan.
Hodge wanted to start her own business to better herself, but she’s also using her business to help other clients at Atelier de Clare.
She’s recruited eight friends who take turns helping her with larger jobs.
“I just want to give everyone a chance,” she said.
“She could have just said no this is my business, but ever since she started she wanted to include everyone,” adds Sloan.
Hodge only uses green cleaning products and a steam cleaner, unless her clients specify they want her to use other products.
“It’s another one of her selling points. Nancy is really good at self-promotion, anyone she talks to she mentions she has her own business,” said Sloan.
Hodge’s next goal is to move out on her own and eventually get married to her boyfriend.
“I hope I can do that soon,” she says.
Since Atelier de Clare hired Dominique Jaume as a job coach, 22 clients at the workshop are now employed.
“From going from zero employed to 22 is unbelievable. We’re so thankful for all the work she’s done,” said Sloan.
Most of them are employed in Clare and the surrounding communities.
“The community has been so supportive of these guys, it’s shocking. They absolutely love going to work, it gives them that sense of independence.”