FPC Graduate Kristen Hadeed’s Student Maid Co. Tapped for ABC TV’s “Extreme Makeover”
FlaglerLive | January 5, 2011
Speaking of extreme makeovers.
Since the economy tanked three years ago there’s been chronic chatter about economic development in Flagler County—the county commission held a workshop on the matter just today—but not much actual development. For an example of raw, productive, attention-grabbing entrepreneurial innovation, you might want to take in what 2006 Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate Kristen Hadeed accomplished in Gainesville in the past two years, while finishing her degree in finance at the University of Florida (she graduated last May).
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Herself needing a job, Hadeed created it instead by developing a business called Student Maid and building it from a one-woman operation (herself) into an enterprise of 30 to 40 employees during the school year, and upwards of 200 in summer, when Gainesville empties out and homes and apartments are crying for clean-ups. Student Maid is a multipurpose commercial and residential service that includes cleaning, baby, pet and house-sitting, homework and errand help and a lot more. Hadeed hires only students. She requires students to maintain a GPA of 3.5 or better (higher than what student athletes have to maintain to stay on their teams), to follow strict work ethics and pay attention to community service: if lawyers can do pro bono work, so can student maids, particularly through the national organization called Cleaning for a Reason, which cleans the houses of women undergoing cancer treatment. (Kristen is the daughter of Maureen and Al Hadeed, the Flagler County attorney.)
The quality and originality of Hadeed’s enterprise has been winning her fans and plaudits: The company won the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leading Women’s Enterprise award last year, Hadeed herself was named one of the city’s unsder-30 “movers and shakers,” she’s been in demand on the local talking circuit, she was recruited for an economic development focus group in Flagler County late last year, and her press clips are stacking up.
And now this: A few weeks ago Hadded learned that Student Maid was chosen to be the cleaning service for an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition,” shooting in Clay County in late January (the actual location is still secret, so as not to tip off the owners of the house). The show airs on Sundays and gets between 9 and 10 million viewers an episode. Hadeed’s segment may or may not get air time, but Student Maid will certainly be credited, giving the company by far its most powerful boost in its young life.
“I’m very excited to be a part of something that gives back in such a powerful way,” Hadeed said.
The giving back part is not fluff talk: Student Maid, which will be sending at least 30 students to the two-day operation, is donating its time, what will work out to at least 500 man hours. It’s donating all the supplies. It’ll work out to a donation equivalent to $7,000. Hadeed and her crew will also have to find and pay for their own accommodations. In other words, it’s not a paying gig, and just like when Kristen was part of FPC’s Community Problem Solvers (where her project focused on women with breast cancer), when she had to fund-raise to attend competitions, she’s leading a fund-raising campaign to raise $3,000 to enable her crew to make the trip. She’s one-sixth of the way there. (See below on where and how to contribute.)“A few weeks ago we were approached and we were asked to keep it secret—not secret, but we couldn’t reveal much,” Hadeed said, “not until it was announced to the public. It’s a big time dedication but in our company we require that our employees participate in charity events over the semester.” It’s an “awesome way to give back and make a difference,” she added.
“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was in Gainesville last year. It hooked up with Ark Remodeling and Construction, a local builder. When the show returned this year and asked Ark to team up again, Ark recommended Student Maid to be the cleaners.
Makeover houses are literally demolished and rebuilt in a matter of a little over a week, with crews working intensively, around the clock, to make the deadline. Crews work on top of each other, cramming some two months of work into the abbreviated time span. Student Maid has never done anything like that. But the usual team leaders will be assigned various responsibilities, and teams will get to work, Hadeed included. “We’re there at the end so we get to be part of the cool part,” she said, “where the family comes home. But I know the students are very excited to do it.”
Milissa Holland, the Flagler County Commissioner, had contacts with Hadeed and included her in her brain trust as she developed an economic development plan that puts a premium on youth and entrepreneurship—the plan formally presented to the commission for the first time today (and given somewhat short shrift as a plan presented by the county administrator took precedence). “Obviously I’m quite proud of Kristen, certainly all of her accomplishments at such a young age,” Holland said after that meeting. “She had opportunity given to her and she had the capacity due to her education in Flagler to build upon a great foundation. But success is something we can all reflect upon and perhaps draw from.”
Holland added: “When you bring a youth component to create some change and comprehensive solutions, those are the individuals that are going to be most affected by our decisions today. What Kristen brought to the table was not only her experiences in this community, but here experiences after she left this community. I was struck by the fact that we could accomplish the same standards here, if we would apply a collaborative effort moving forward.”
Hadeed credits some of her success to Gainesville’s attention to so-called “incubator” businesses. Student Maid set up shop in an office that provides office space for young entrepreneurs, commensurate with their size and ability to pay. As the business grows, so does the space it’s granted and the money it’s charged. Student Maid started with a desk, with access to all necessary office equipment to run a business. It now has its own office and keeps growing. “That’s something that has allowed a lot of companies here to grow,” Hadeed says. “I’d love to see that in Flagler, because entrepreneurship is a great way to decrease unemployment and to create jobs. Gainesville is huge on that.”
Hadeed’s immediate goals: to keep building her company, and to motivate young people to take on the challenge of work and creativity on their own terms. “I want to show them that you can do everything that you dream of at a young age. I think our Student Maids proves that.” The more so, she says, by taking an industry not known for its glamour and turning it into an opportunity for students to make money for college and make a larger difference in their community. “If you can do with cleaning you can do it with anything.”
Hadeed’s father Al, usually quoted on matters more political, pedestrian or, as matters relating to local governments tend to be, stupefying, had no reason to contain himself: “She has that sense of community responsibility which she obtained from Flagler County, from the Community Problem Solving ethic, and also because of those studies combined with the University of Florida business school, which has a very strong emphasis on entrepreneurship,” he said. “So all of that, the idea that she could be an entrepreneur that she could start a business, that she could create a job—not just get a degree to find a job—and then to create jobs that constitute honorable work: that to me is the hallmark of what she has accomplished. So obviously I’m very proud of her. She’s taken all those principles and applied them in a very unique way.”
To contribute to Student Maids’ “Extreme Makeover” trip, mail checks made payable to to Student Maid, 530 West University Avenue, Gainesville FL 32601. Checks should be made payable to Student Maid, “for extreme makeover” n the memo line. Cleaning supplies are also being accepted as donations. For additional information, call Student Maids at 352/672-0038.