Patience and perseverance pay off for Naje
For more than a year, Naje Lathan couldn't find work.
Desperate, and having tried everything else he could think of, he posted his plight on Facebook.
A woman eventually offered him a job cleaning her tennis court. Naje, 22, turned it into an opportunity.
Armed with the power washer she had given him, he started Drip Too Hard Car Wash as Bermuda entered Phase 3.
The business is not limited to cars, the entrepreneur will also tackle “bikes, or anything” that needs cleaning. Vehicles are power washed and also washed by hand; tyres are shined and mats and seats are cleaned.
Customers have praised him for being “extremely hard-working” and “friendly” and doing an excellent job. Naje is thankful for the help he got from his Alexandra Road, Devonshire neighbours, who allowed him to get “warmed up” on their cars.
“I've had a very, very hard time finding a job for a very long time,” he said, explaining how he had worked as a petrol station attendant and a part-time security guard since completing high school in 2015.
By 2018, he was unemployed. Last November, he made the following post on Maj's List: “I am trying my very best to stay positive, physically, mentally and emotionally, but it's starting to [wear me] down a good bit. I am looking for a job but it's like I am not getting anywhere right now.
“Can I get any help please? No transportation but a great mindset. Somebody please help.
“I am a hands-on, hard-working, dedicated, strong, caring and plenty more young gentleman. Would be much appreciated.”
Although fortunate to have had a roof over his head through it all, he says he was “barely surviving”.
“I spent a year and a half looking for a job,” said Naje, who left school without a plan and never thought he would start a business of his own. “I had to use my mother's stuff and I couldn't really take that any more. I needed to make my own money, do my own thing.”
Thrilled when given the chance to prove himself, he put his all into cleaning the tennis court.
“At first I didn't know what I was doing, but it was fairly easy,” he said. “I ended up doing really good. I asked the lady if I could use her power washer to do other things and she said yes.
“So, I got the power washer and didn't use it for a month or two, because I still had the security job. And then I lost the security job.”
He had worked at a carwash before and was aware that, at the end of February, the Riviere family had closed the one they operated at Bull's Head.
“I've been cleaning cars for a long time, but I haven't being doing it publicly,” he said. “I've been doing it on a private note: my nana's car, my auntie's car, my mother's car.
“I live at Alexandra Road and I have a few neighbours that wanted their cars cleaned. I was cleaning one neighbour's car for three weeks and then said, ‘You know what, I've gotta do more. I can't just do this one car'.”
He created flyers on his laptop and started putting them on cars.
“My favourite spot to go to is down to MarketPlace,” said Naje, who continues to clean the tennis courts as well. “I don't put the posters on cars that are clean already, I put the posters on cars that need cleaning; any car that is really dirty. I put low prices on it as well, just so I could get people's attention. Once I get enough money so I can get the products that I need, the prices will go up, but not by that much.”
His day starts at 10am and ends at sunset.
Because of the heavy equipment involved, drivers have to take their vehicles to his home although he was able to make an exception for a family who wanted four cars cleaned.
He does the work all on his own and is able to commit to between four and five cars a day.
At the end of it, he can feel it in his muscles, “everything aches”.
• Appointments for Drip Too Hard Car Wash can be made on 518-9992. Prices range from $20 to $60