Lifestyle

Holly Johnston: Laundry Diva

After years of using laundry balls in Europe, Holly Johnston has brought the product to Canada and started her company Laundry Divas.  - JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS
After years of using laundry balls in Europe, Holly Johnston has brought the product to Canada and started her company Laundry Divas.
— image credit: JENNA HAUCK/ PROGRESS

Who likes doing laundry? For most people, laundry is an absolute chore and something that is hardly fun. It’s something that gets put off. Why do you think that most people let it pile up in the hamper, doing an emergency load only when they start running low on socks and underwear? With laundry being part of our everyday lives, Laundry Divas co-founder and mompreneur Holly Johnston decided to give the consumer options for not only making laundry easier but eco-friendly and fun too. Holly’s drive to becoming a successful entrepreneur began at a young age and that same drive and determination continues to this day.

Holly grew up in Richmond and by the time that she was just thirteen she was working. “I began my working career at Salty’s Fish & Chips and I have never looked back. I enjoyed the challenge,” she enthused. As an enthusiastic and outgoing young lady, Holly enjoyed school for its social aspect but admits to having been very creative, excelling at anything artsy.

Her father has enjoyed a long career as a tree topper and still today, at the age of 67, he continues to climb trees, doing what he has always done best. “My mother is now semi-retired but she still has cleaning contracts. I help her out with her current contract with Mountain Institution,” she said. While the family enjoyed Richmond, it got to the point where they recognized that the community was beginning to change and it was getting rougher. “I was in school and still rather young and was taking the bus to work and my mom began to worry about me. There was a lot of rough stuff going on. So, they decided to move out to Chilliwack.”

Holly went on to graduate from Chilliwack Senior Secondary and while she knew that she wanted to become an entrepreneur, she hadn’t decided what she intended to do specifically.

By the time that she was 21, she had decided to start her own company and after considerable research, launched Fraser Valley Extras. “Essentially, the company organized extras for the movie industry from Hope to Ladner. John Ritter and Henry Winkler were out here shooting a movie one time and I had John Ritter do a two-day workshop on acting. He was a really nice guy. I did this for awhile and it was successful and I had fun and enjoyed doing it but I didn’t know if I wanted to commit my whole life to it and eventually, I folded the company,” she explained. She then began working with teenagers who were in the foster care system, helping them adjust to independent living. “Some of these young people had extreme behaviour problems and after four years, I did need to move on. I then began working with Chilliwack Community Services and enjoyed my job but it wasn’t nearly as intense as the previous one had been. From there, I began providing employment education for adults,” she said.

Before getting married, Holly went on a thrilling, seven month, European adventure. “What an awesome time. I learned so much while I was there. My cousin was living over there and one day, we began discussing the kinds of things that we could do together. We knew that one day we’d have our own business,” she laughed.

After returning to Chilliwack, she got married. “My husband Clint is a Yarrow boy, born and bred. He lost his hand while working at Uneeda Forest Products and so he went back to school to train as a teacher. When he graduated, the English school system was hiring so we went to England and lived there for five years,” she said. While there, Holly and her family travelled extensively and experienced as much of Europe as possible.

Holly returned to Chilliwack 2½ years ago, and along with her cousin Shannon Faulkner, who lives in London and is the head of collections for Honda UK, decided to launch their own business, as they had once discussed. “We sell eco-friendly laundry products. We do a lot of our sales through the internet but our products are also now sold at All Things Being Eco in Chilliwack. Customers can call us as we do accept VISA and Mastercard or cheques. Once the order is processed, we mail it out right to their door. With the launch of our site, www.laundrydivas.com, we also introduced the new Trekker Ball. You won’t have to purchase expensive detergents or worry about soap spilling in your luggage as there are no liquids or powders to worry about. This is a great product when you’re travelling.”

Aside from the travel size option, Laundry Divas also offers their popular Diva Laundry Balls. “I do a lot of laundry since I have five children under the age of ten. The Diva Laundry Balls are a replacement for traditional detergent. They’re easy to use and gentle enough for those who suffer with allergies or eczema. They’re greener for the environment and they’re also very cost effective. The initial set of three, which comes with the stain removal stick and extra pellets, retails for only $36.99 and lasts an average of 360 loads,” she said enthusiastically.

There is no question that this full-time mom and local entrepreneur is one busy lady. She’s always setting goals and admits that she has some high expectations. “Richard Branson, who owns Virgin Airlines, is a most incredible entrepreneur and I have a lot of respect for him. He’s motivated and ethical and I’ll know that I’ve made it when the Trekker Balls are on his shopping list for Virgin Airlines. I’m going to work on that,” she laughed.

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