The latest self-service laundry in town, Dhobi 7 uses plant-based detergent. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The latest self-service laundry in town, Dhobi 7, has recently opened its doors in Menglait, prioritising the usage of plant-based detergent in all of its washers at the facility.

The coin-operated launderette which houses six eco-friendly washers and six dryers provides complimentary cloth washing liquid that is certified safe for babies’ skin and people with sensitive skin.

Not only it uses organic detergent, but Dhobi 7 has drop-off and folding services every Sunday, catering to anyone who needs the extra help.

The idea behind the business sparked when two mothers saw the need to have a safe and convenient place to send their dirty laundry.

(L-R) Owners of Dhobi 7, Norbashirah Maidin and Aqilah Matassan. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Norbashirah Maidin, the co-owner of Dhobi 7, was heavily pregnant with her first child at that time when she had to carry laundry baskets alone while her husband was posted overseas for work.

“It was pretty tiring when you had to do chores when you’re pregnant and my husband was away most of the time. I wished I had someone to do the washing and folding,” she said delightedly.

Meanwhile, the concern of using a detergent that is safe for babies grew after giving birth to her daughter a few years ago.

“I proposed the idea to my husband where people can just drop-off their laundry and have them folded (after wash and dry) as well as equipped with safe organic soap. That is when my partner Qilah came in and we talked about it (the idea),” she added.

Dhobi 7 uses plant-based detergent. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

For Aqilah Matassan, she understood her partner’s dilemma as she did experience some skin itchiness after washing her clothes at some laundromats.

Having to share some things in common makes it easy for the womenpreneurs to run the business together with the support of their husbands in the background who are close friends and colleagues at the same time.

“We both work in the same profession; we each have a daughter of the same age and clean personal hygiene is important for us. So, things are easy between us (when running the business together),” said Aqilah.

The two friends who co-owned Dhobi 7 had thorough discussions with one another as well as with their husbands prior to realising their business.

Dhobi 7 has drop-off and folding services every Sunday, catering to anyone who needs the extra help. Image: Fazizul Haqimie
Dhobi 7 is equipped with a vending machine filled with snacks and drinks for customers to munch on while waiting for their laundry. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

After two years of groundwork that include searching for equipment and detergent suppliers, Dhobi 7 finally opened its inaugural outlet in Menglait last March.

The soft opening of the launderette, however, was on the day when the sultanate reported its first COVID-19 case; the response was not good but gradually improving later on.

“The reception slowly picks up as people are also hygiene conscious and that the COVID-19 situation in the country is getting better too. So they come in to wash their clothes with us,” said Norbashirah, adding that there are staff houses and residential areas nearby.

Being strategically located between commercial areas of Gadong, Berakas and Kiulap gives Dhobi 7 the advantage to attract customers from all walks of life.

Moreover, for the Sunday drop-offs and folding services, the co-owners said that a worker will be readily available on that day on specific times only where customers will need to spend just $8 for wash, dry and fold.

Just like any other 24-hour launderette, Dhobi 7 uses tokens which can be exchanged with cash bearing denominations $1, $5 and $10.

For their 14kg load washer, customers get to choose between cold, warm and hot wash, priced at $3, $4 and $5, respectively.

Dhobi 7 uses tokens which can be exchanged with cash bearing denominations $1, $5 and $10. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Meanwhile, the dryers can also accommodate 14kg load of clothes with rates at just $1 for 10 minutes, $2 for 20 minutes and $3 for 30 minutes.

The spacious and airy facility welcomes customers with its warm lightings and neat interiors, perfect for those to unwind after a long day while waiting for laundry.

Despite an unexpected challenging start due to the pandemic, Norbashirah and Aqilah are hopeful for their business to progress with several ideas up their sleeves.

“We want it (the brand) to be more than just a dobi or laundromat… When people see Dhobi 7, it is synonymous with cleanliness and safety. InsyaAllah maybe in a year or two we would cater to other services,” concluded Aqilah.

Co-founders of Dhobi 7, Norbashirah Maidin (R) and Aqilah Matassan (L) with their guests of honour during the opening ceremony of Dhobi 7. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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