Meet Sunandita Das, Founder & President of Urbane Luxury Services
Tell us about you and your company.
As a first-generation immigrant in Canada, I know the struggle for minority workers. After two decades working at Fortune 500 companies, I wanted to have a greater purpose and be a change-maker for these underrepresented communities. In 2017, I decided to quit my corporate career and launch a facilities management and cleaning company to provide meaningful employment and equal opportunities for minorities, refugees, and women. I feel strongly that if all of us simply plays our part, this world can get rid of poverty and inequality.
What is your company’s specialty?
We offer straight-forward facility services, from commercial cleaning and building maintenance to floor installation. But we’re well-known for turning the mundane work of cleaning staff into purposeful drive. Our teams feel wanted and valued as part of a community. We offer training on etiquette standards, our trademarked “12Inspect” program, scholarships and internships, and intensive diversity and equity hiring policies.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I am proud of my choice to quit the glamourous corporate world and jump into the cleaning industry. It gives me the juice to service a lot of underrepresented community workers rather than just donating a small piece of my annual earnings to charities.
How did your partnership with Govan Brown begin? What has the experience been like?
Govan Brown initiated a mentoring program through the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council, and we were lucky to be inducted. I reached out to them to see if they could teach us what to prepare before we worked with them, and I was shocked when they answered, “Sure”—because nine times out of ten I get no response. Since then, Govan Brown has “polished” us with each experience to enhance our services, to help us get visibility, and help us feel supported.
What else could the industry be doing to help MWDBE-certified businesses?
It would be great to see more small and mid-sized businesses embrace newer businesses and mentor us, show us their paths of success, share references and introductions to deserving businesses, and help us get started. We expect the moon and the stars from the large corporations, sometimes forgetting that they get 1,000 supplier requests each month for each category and have already helped a lot of mid-size companies grow.
We love what Govan Brown initiated. They have taught us and they are here to support us, show us the way, and check on us if there is anything we are struggling with and need a hand or two. They set an example for us, and we now do the same for several new starters.
Do you have any advice for someone starting a business in our industry and beginning the MWDBE process?
Reach out for help to learn, not necessarily to seek business. If your product or service is worth it and you believe in it, believe in the process of learning and not just sending emails seeking business. Review your own position—are you scalable? Will your product exceed what others offer? Be fair and honest with yourself.
ABOUT URBANE LUXURY SERVICES
Year established: 2017
Location: Toronto, Canada
Number of employees: 58 direct
Notable projects: CBRE, JLL, Marriott Hotels