When Pandemic Forced Mother and Son to Leave Their Jobs, They Started Their Own Business
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 36-year-old Antonio Grant was unable to continue his work vacuuming apartments through Opportunity Partners. His mother, Ann Grant, a long-time restaurant manager, also found herself temporarily without work when many restaurants were forced to close during the state shutdown. Though she was eventually able to return to her job, she faced a tough decision. If she returned to work, she was potentially putting Antonio, who has down-syndrome and is at a higher risk of complications from COVID-19, in danger. Ann turned to a friend for advice, who told her that she needed to weigh the risks versus the benefits of returning to work. Deep down, Ann knew that returning to work was not worth her son’s safety and left her job permanently to stay home with Antonio.
Ann recalls that quarantining during the pandemic was a balancing act of trying to keep Antonio safe without becoming isolated. Ann says that they would often drive around the lake just to be able to see people again, even from a distance. Occasionally they were able to get together with family and spend time together outdoors while social distancing. The pandemic was difficult in other ways, too. Ann stresses that for people with disabilities, routine provides stability and something to look forward to. For instance, every Saturday before the pandemic Antonio looked forward to going to the local gas station to get a soda with his paycheck. This disruption of routine and not being able to do even the “little things” anymore has been hard for Antonio, as well as many others with disabilities.
Once the vaccine became available, Antonio was hoping he would be able to return to his previous job vacuuming apartments, but even with the vaccine, it was still too great of a risk to be in close contact with people in their homes.
Together, they started brainstorming other options.
Ann and Antonio have long dreamed of working together one day, and it seemed that with both wanting to return to work, the timing to finally start their own business together was perfect. This is how they came up with the idea for Rockstar Cleaning Club, an auto-detailing company. Ann explains that cleaning vehicles allows Antonio to put his cleaning experience and passion to good use without close contact. After raising some of the initial funds on GoFundMe, they were able to purchase the supplies to get Rockstar Cleaning Club started. They even worked with their bank so that Antonio is able to receive a weekly paycheck, just like he did before the pandemic. According to Antonio, owning a business and earning a paycheck makes him feel “like a person”, as well as in control and respected.
In his spare time, Antonio loves listening to music, everything from Katy Perry to heavy metal. He also uses the Siri feature on his iphone to help him search YouTube videos about auto detailing and cleaning.
Currently, Ann and Antonio drive to their clients’ homes or places of work to clean their vehicles, many of whom are friends, family, and even strangers that want to support Antonio and his dream. The mother-son duo are already planning for the future of Rockstar Cleaning Club, hoping to one day expand through Opportunity Partners and hire more employees with disabilities.
Check out the Rockstar Cleaning Club Page here!