Stable owners who’ve made a resolution to have a cleaner barn in 2020 might consider contacting Rachel Kelsey. The 19-year-old Milwaukee horsewoman owns and operates Refreshed Farm Cleaning Services, a barn cleaning business.
The young horsewoman describes her service as “kind of like a barn maid.”
“I always loved time in the barn and seeing the before-and-after difference when I’m sweeping, cleaning and polishing up stables,” Kelsey said. “I love reorganizing feed rooms, tack rooms, etc. Getting into the little nooks and crannies to get the dirt and dust out from in between things.”
The idea of starting the business came about during a conversation Kelsey had with a friend when the two were cleaning a stable a couple years ago.
“One day while in the hayloft, a friend and I were talking about how we should start a business cleaning barns,” Kelsey said. “We joked about how we should be barn maids, because it’s relaxing and we find it fun. From there, the idea came alive.”
Although the idea seemed to have been made in jest, Kelsey gave it some serious thought and decided to pursue the venture. Using some money she received at Christmas, Kelsey bought cleaning supplies and launched her enterprise.
“I love what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Kelsey said. “Keeping your barn clean is one of the best ways to ensure a safe breathing and sanitary environment for you and your horse. You wouldn’t want to live in a dusty and dirty stall, why should your horse? Some of my clients have horses with heaves and have noticed great improvement after my service.”
The budding entrepreneur now travels from barn to barn, bringing her tools with her much as house cleaning services do.
“I started out by offering free cleaning in exchange for before and after pictures of properties,” Kelsey said. “Slowly and surely, as a few years went by, people started hearing about my services and began calling me to book appointments.”
With the increase in business, Kelsey began charging and went from a single client to over 15 in one summer, and her business is still growing.
“Word of mouth and being a hard worker is definitely one of the best ways to advertise, in addition to websites and business cards,” Kelsey said.
Last May, Refreshed Farm customer Kim Hoover of Caledonia posted a favorable review on the business’ Facebook page.
“I have a small private barn in Caledonia,” Hoover said. “With a dirt floor, dusting the barn multiple times a year is absolutely necessary. Rachel was punctual, professional, friendly and showed a genuine interest in doing a good job. She did everything I asked for, asked me for feedback and did a great job in a timely manner. Will definitely use her again.”
While Kelsey’s mother helped her a few times, generally the owner of Refreshed Farm remains the business’ sole employee.
“Only on rare occasions do I need help,” Kelsey said. “Sometimes clients offer help when I am working on their farm, and it is always appreciated.”
Her clients have been some of the largest facilities in the state as well as small private farms, traveling as far as Green Bay to do single day cleanings. Kelsey determines how much to charge by how much the work load would likely be. She usually tells potential clients they can get a free estimate by sending her photos via cell phone text or through Facebook Messenger of what they would like done.
Kelsey has cleaned multiple stables with dirt floors, which tend to cobweb and dust up more than others. Along with less clutter, Kelsey believes a clean stable can help reduce the possibility of stable fires.
When the young entrepreneur started offering her services as a business, she had to learn about record keeping and self-promotion. Despite those less attractive aspects of operating a business, Kelsey found being her own boss is “pretty wonderful.”
“Being your own boss is great,” said Kelsey. “You can plan around events and important days and set your own schedules. At first I had no clue what I was doing, keeping records, receipts and client information. After each visit, I provide clients with a receipt and let them keep the copies. I also leave flyers with them so they can hang them up or share them.”
She discovered a downside of being a sole proprietor is there’s no one else available to fill in when she’s sick or should she encounter a conflict in her schedule. While she has considered hiring, she’s learned the liability costs would be too prohibitive.