AN AUNT and niece have launched their own cleaning company in the Borders after losing their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lisa Brown, 46, and her niece Leighanne Chisholm, 32, started L&L Cleaning after being made redundant – following a period of furlough – from the charity they worked for.
Speaking about starting a business in the middle of a pandemic, Ms Brown, who lives in Jedburgh, said “it was a bit of a baptism of fire” but something that the pair have enjoyed.
“It was just a case of riding a storm at the start,” she said. “We had toyed about the idea [of starting a business] for quite some time. This gave us the kick up the backside we needed.”
Ms Chisholm, of Galashiels, added: “We bought a van and cleaning supplies and got a Facebook page up and running as well as delivering flyers to several areas in the Borders.”
Despite setting up the business, Ms Brown says 2020 was “a pretty tough year” for their family on the whole.
In February last year, Ms Brown’s uncle passed away. Then, in April, Ms Chisholm’s younger brother, Scott, 28, died during the height of the lockdown.
Ms Brown said: “My mum’s brother died in February and we were lucky to be able to attend his funeral prior to full on lockdown.
“Then Scott passed away in April and not only was his death a shock and has hit the family hard, attending his funeral without all his friends and family was devastating.
“We are all still struggling with his death and will for a long time as I’m sure many people will who have lost people during these bizarre and unprecedented circumstances.”
Ms Brown – who described that period as a “hellish experience” – said starting the company gave them “something to focus on”.
The cleaning business also offers pet services, with Ms Brown already involved in dog-walking before the pandemic.
Ms Chisholm said: “We decided to carry on with the pet services but add in domestic and commercial cleaning too.
“We figured given the current circumstances a lot of people and organisations would be looking for good quality cleaning services, so L&L Cleaning and Pet Services was born.”
Both sides of the business are currently affected by the recent tightening of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in Scotland.
“It was grand to begin with, but just now we are not able to go into domestic properties to clean so we have to put that on hold for the moment,” said Ms Brown. “We’re looking to take on more stuff once things are back to a more normal state.”
With both Ms Brown and Ms Chisholm living in the Borders, they are looking to help out other businesses in the region.
The pair have been working with local cleaning supplier Anna Armstrong and are using a disinfectant produced by a firm in Duns.
“We are all in this together and it’s important that we work together to ensure the Borders economy can be kick-started again, while also coming to terms with the fact the virus is probably going to be around for some time,” said Ms Brown.