Location: Asheville, North Carolina and Swannanoa, North Carolina
Years in Business: > 12 Years
Product/Service: Eco-friendly vacation and rental home cleaning; Solar-powered Laundromat
NCIFund Role: Business loans
Sector: Hospitality, Consumer services
Impact: Job creation, Community services, Environmental services

The Opportunity

Gladden wanted to expand her business to start a laundromat in Western North Carolina, but not just any laundromat: she wanted it to be solar powered and environmentally friendly. When she came across a shuttered former laundromat in a sunny area, she gave NCIFund another call. The building was in good shape, but it needed upgrades to make Gladden’s dream a reality.


NCIFund gave Gladden the loan she needed to establish Solar Suds of Swannanoa. With the financing, she purchased the building, acquired new energy-efficient washers and dryers, and installed solar panels that cover the business’ 1500 square feet of rooftop. Solar Suds is now the first and only solar-powered laundromat in North Carolina. In addition, Solar Suds offers sustainable and earth-minded laundry options on site for free, including white vinegar, wool dryer balls and earth-friendly detergents.

Because Solar Suds serves a rural community, Gladden also used her NCIFund loan to purchase three new vehicles, which she uses to offer a laundry pickup and delivery service throughout the immediate area.

EcoGroup further prides itself on paying a living wage and offering flexible hours for its employees, most of whom are working parents.

With NCIFund’s help, Melissa Gladden has put a clean spin on a traditionally dirty business. She’s realized her dream of offering her community quality, environmentally friendly services, while treating her employees well.  


"When I was having those panic moments, I would call and say, ‘I just don’t understand this’ and NCIFund would calm me down and tell me what was normal and where to find information or offer to make a phone call for me. I probably wouldn’t have made it if I didn't have somebody as caring as NCIFund. They were my number one cheerleader.”"
                                     -Melissa Gladden, Founder and Owner of EcoGroup of the Carolinas


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Learn more about EcoClean and Solar Suds