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Story #68Carpe Diem CleaningDurham, NC

I realized that business is truly one of the most effective ways to be able to help impact lives.

Wendy Clark knew at an early age that her goal in life was to help underprivileged youth. She decided that by starting a small business she could generate capital and then invest it back into the community. At age 20, she founded Carpe Diem Cleaning with only one hundred dollars in her pocket and a few potential clients. Twenty years later, her small residential cleaning service has 35 employees, almost all of whom are female, and services 600 homes in the Durham, N. C. area.

Clark is a firm believer that having an entrepreneurial mindset is the key to revitalizing a community. “You have to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship,” she says. “Change needs to come from the inside out.” With this in mind, she relocated her business to inner city Durham, bringing with her a community-driven mindset and influential leadership capabilities.

Over time, Clark’s one-woman enterprise became a multiple team service, and she sees Carpe Diem Cleaning as an opportunity to empower her employees while simultaneously fueling the economy. She is open to hiring male employees, but has found that the business largely attracts females. “It’s pretty amazing being able to create a work environment that supports who they are, supports their self-confidence, and equips them.”

In 2007, while looking for an office space, she came across the city’s dilapidated old Farmer’s Exchange Building. With the help of a grant, she was able to redevelop the building, turning it into an affordable community office space to help foster the area’s entrepreneurial spirit.

“The average entrepreneur fails seven times,” says Clark, when speaking of the greatest challenge she has faced. “It’s usually two steps after failure that the big breakthrough comes.” For Clark, seeing people grow and succeed is what makes it all worth it.

“Leadership is not about what you can do, it’s about building the platform for others to be able to succeed.”

Photos by Nadav Neuhaus

  • Wendy Clark, owner of Carpe Diem Cleaning, meets with colleagues to discuss plans to expand her company.

  • An employee of Carpe Diem Cleaning arrives to work at a customer’s home.

  • Wendy Clark, owner of Carpe Diem Cleaning, in her office. In 2007, while searching for an office space, she came across the city’s dilapidated old Farmer’s Exchange Building. “I saw an entrepreneurial center,” she says. With the help of a grant she was able to redevelop the historic warehouse, turning it into an affordable community office space.

  • The teams' supply cubbies in Durham, N.C.

  • Wendy Clark, owner of Carpe Diem Cleaning, spends time volunteering at a children's after school center that she supports in an urban neighborhood of Durham, N.C.

  • Wendy Clark, owner of Carpe Diem Cleaning, sits with her family, including her 11-month old son.

  • An employee of Carpe Diem Cleaning prepares to go clean a customer’s home.

  • An employee of Carpe Diem Cleaning at work in a customer’s home. The business is primarily residential and does not require formal contracts.

  • An employee of Carpe Diem Cleaning at work in a customer’s home. Owner Wendy Clark is open to hiring male or female employees, but has found that the business mostly attracts women.

  • Wendy Clark, owner of Carpe Diem Cleaning, at work in her office. Clark knew at an early age that she wanted to help underprivileged youth, and decided that by starting a business, she could generate capital to invest back into the community.

  • Employees of Carpe Diem Cleaning stand with the service’s cars before heading to work. Wendy Clark started the residential cleaning service at age 20 with only 100 dollars in her pocket. Today, her small business employs 35 people, most of whom are female, and services 600 homes in North Carolina’s Triangle Area.

Business Details

Proprietor: Wendy Clark
902 Pearl St. Durham, NC 27701
PH: 919-682-5326 / Website
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