Hello! We're Kitty's Laundrette and we're building a new affordable, ecological launderette and community hub, in North Liverpool!
We are reimagining the humble and well loved Launderette. We see them as largely underused, semi-public spaces where people can gather, sit, socialise and keep warm. We feel the laundrette has the potential to create interactions across groups within our diverse local community.
We want to shape an engaging program of creative and social activities with local residents and people from the city region alike. These could be exhibitions, film screenings, craft clubs, poetry nights, discursive events, social history projects and more! We want to animate the warm interior of a simple but socially resonate space. We will include a small bar area and serve daily refreshments and special stuff at events. We will have a community notice board and local information exchange, as well as great Wi-Fi and affordable access to computer and printing facilities.
The laundrette will provide affordable, environmental and essential services to the community while being the self sustaining business which underpins all other activity. We will be a locally rooted social enterprise on the high street which creates a number of local jobs where fair pay, skills development and creativity are central. We have been looking into how we can harness sustainable technologies in our launderette to make services cheaper and more environmentally friendly, helping our laundry to be future facing as well as a little nostalgic.
We want to connect with the very social experience of wash houses and laundrettes in years gone by as well as an amazing part of Liverpool’s history as the first place in the country to introduce public wash houses to increase the health and wellbeing of the poor, catalysed by the inspiring work of pioneering Irish migrant Kitty Wilkinson in 1832. We have named our launderette after her to celebrate her amazing contribution, and that of many other women, to the life of the city.
What have we done so far and why Kickstarter?
We feel like we have come a long way over these last two years, from a small idea, to a project, to a meaningful and long term social enterprise rooted in our community. We have established as a multi-stake holder co-operative to enable us to be guided and shaped by all those who may use the laundry, work there, host events or live nearby.
As a small group of Liverpool residents we have been working hard to make this idea a reality for over 2 years, and in that time we have managed to secure small bits of funding to develop a detailed business plan, enhance the capacity and skills of our team and secure the building for our continued use. We now are in the final push to fit out the premises and open to the public. The money generated through this Kickstarter will go towards renovating the laundry room into a welcoming, accessible and versatile community space.
As artistic production and creativity are at the heart of this project, we were really excited about starting as we mean to go on, and paying a bunch of Liverpool artists and crafts people to design and produce the laundry themed rewards.
Already for this project we've worked with illustrators, animators, soap makers, printers, designers, musicians, photographers, filmmakers and other local social enterprises like Homebaked and The Sewing Rooms. We are really looking forward to seeing how all forms of creativity can grow through this project.
Since securing our premises we have already begun clearing out the space and get started on the many jobs there are to do. While the Kickstarter is running we will still be working away and will post any exciting developments. Follow our Kickstarter campaign we will really get cracking to renovate the shop front and internal fit out.
We will also be continuing to host community events and participatory workshops throughout the summer and ensure that all rewards are finalised and posted out in August.
By September/October we are aiming to have the machines installed and be open for social business! We'll keep all our supporters updated and we hope to see you at our Grand Opening or some time in the future!
Risks and challenges
All new enterprises contain a certain amount of risk when starting out. We feel that through the two years of research and development we have a strong grip on the challenges ahead and a number of contingency plans in place for how we can still achieve our social aims.
We recognise that launderettes are not such a growth industry as many people have machines at home, however our research suggests there is still a considerable need within our community. We feel that a combination of our divergent income streams, service washes, commercial contracts, events, arts and culture projects, etc will make the project financially sustainable. We also hope that in the long run we might be able to contribute to a shift in culture around collective ownership of resources, so that if someone's machine breaks, they may not bother to buy a new one with money they don't have, but come and use the quality local provision.
Some of our largest overall project expenditure is employment and training of local people, many of whom are otherwise under-employed. Whatever happens our work has already contributed to the local economy, developed the capacity of several individuals and supported the creative practice of a group of Liverpool artists. All the rewards have already been produced and we are comfortable that we can get them out to you within our stated timeframe, however we will definitely keep you updated if anything unexpected comes up.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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