Tidying Up Communities

Beach Babes: cleaning homes and slinging groceries

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Even before the rise of this strange year’s pandemic virus, CARLEN MCCAIN has spent most of her days cleaning and sanitizing. In fact, she “loves” to do it.

“I’ve pretty much been cleaning all my life,” McCain says. “I grew up with a single mom who loved to clean . . . It’s something everyone hates, but I’m glad I like to do it.”

She enjoys it so much that, after 25 years in corporate business management, she turned her side gig into a full-time residential cleaning company, Beach Babes & Buckets. The one-year-old business offers move-in and move-out cleaning, deep cleans, monthly services, and more.

“I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives—both to the people we serve and the people I employ in my business,” McCain says. “Working in corporate business management . . . I saw no work-life balance there for employees. I wanted to start a business where I could offer that.”

Now, she and about eight employees serve the greater Wilmington area.

Although she’s washed away her corporate lifestyle, McCain applied what she learned in business to grow her company. Beach Babes & Buckets offers a niche marketing approach based on McCain’s guiding principle: trust.

“Each client is assigned a ‘beach babe,’” McCain says. “They get the same beach babe with every appointment.”

The consistency, McCain explains, builds confidence and assurance between her clients and employees.

“A friendly face can go a long way,” McCain says. “We become part of the family . . . a trusted part of their community.”

As the COVID-19 fear and virus spreads, McCain asked herself how she could give back to her community as her clients’ lifestyles rapidly changed, when a simple trip to the bank or grocery store became a state-declared health risk.

So, she and her team expanded their range by offering delivery services—prescriptions, groceries, etc.

“What better way, I felt, to serve the community I live in, to serve the people who developed that trust in us,” McCain says.

Thinking about the most vulnerable populations in the face of the virus, McCain offers discounts to elderly clients for both their delivery and cleaning requests.

“I just feel like I hear so many times that the elderly get overlooked when something like this happens,” McCain says with concern. “We give them that peace of mind when we show up with their prescriptions instead of someone they’ve never met.”

McCain thinks about her 82-year-old client, for example, who can barely load groceries into her house under normal circumstances, let alone sanitize them.

About half of the Beach Babes’ 30-plus client-base has taken advantage of the delivery services so far.

“Expanding our services has also helped us because people are taking advantage of these services who maybe don’t want cleaning right now,” she says. “I think (a) how do I still employ my girls and (b) how do I still help the community.”

Among these adjustments, McCain has increased cleaning protocols, such as wearing disposable shoe booties in addition to gloves.

“We’ve always known how to clean and how to disinfect—the difference is important,” she says.

Clients old and new can visit the Beach Babes & Buckets website to get a quote for any service.

“We’re trying to be flexible and think outside the box,” McCain says. “I just want to be helpful where we can.”


To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.

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Categories: Women to Watch
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