Shae Plaza, our NJ Mompreneur of the Week, was working as a real estate agent when she noticed how cleaning and real estate go hand-in-hand. With an eye toward opening a business, she had an aha moment—having always felt extreme satisfaction from completing cleaning projects, Shae decided opening a cleaning service was the logical choice. Plaza Cleaning Company & Concierge Services launched earlier this year in Wildwood and offers residential and commercial cleaning, rental turnovers, in-house laundry, food shopping, and more, and has taken off into “crazy busy” status. We chatted with this mom of Nolan, 13, Caleb, 10, Amelia, 3, and Charleston (aka “Charli”), 10 months, to talk about how her childhood routine became her business idea, how her first client gave advice she always looks back on, and her go-to order at her favorite South Jersey ice cream parlor.
Tell us a bit about your background. I grew up in Wildwood. My husband (a Wildwood Crest police officer) and I met at the beach when we were 11—I’ve practically known him my entire life. We reconnected when we were 21, started dating, and were engaged three months later. Not many people end up marrying their first loves. We live in Wildwood and love the beach, but living here is so much more than that. I also love the small-town feel here in the fall and winter seasons. Everyone helps each other out—it’s a wonderful community to be a part of.
Please share some details about your career background and the “aha moment” that led you to open Plaza Cleaning Company. I’d always wanted to get into the real estate market and worked at a real estate agency before getting my license in 2017, which I still actively use for friends and family. While working at the office, we were always dealing with summer rentals, and I thought about how real estate and cleaning truly go hand in hand. I’ve always loved to clean, so it seemed logical to start a cleaning business.
How supportive is your family? Do they ever get involved in your business or help out in ways they didn’t before you launched this? It definitely takes a village. I have so many supportive family members, including my father-in-law and his fiancé, who are my business partners, and my mother-in-law, who watches my children while I work on the weekends. My mom, who also works with me during the week, and my husband and two older boys are supportive and helpful in whatever is needed.
What do you love the most about running this particular business? I love how satisfied my clients are—they give me such positive feedback and great reviews. And when it comes to cleaning, almost everybody can use some help—from moms who are so busy working and raising their children to those that are older and can use a helping hand—and it’s something I enjoy doing. When I was growing up, my mom and I cleaned our home in some way every single day. I loved that it gave me a routine, and I also loved the satisfaction I felt afterward, knowing that our home was spotless.
Is there anything that might have made things run smoother from the get-go? When I first launched my business, I was still buying the brand-name cleaning supplies I’d always used, but when buying in bulk, that doesn’t make financial sense since the ingredients are basically the same—bleach is bleach.
What do you hope your children learn by seeing you do your own thing? I’m only 29 years old. I had my first son when I was 16 and my second son when I was 19. I was a teenage mom, which wasn’t easy at times, but I hope that all of my kids understand that it doesn’t matter what people say about you and your circumstances—if you have your head on straight and know what you want to do in life, find your inner strength and nothing can hold you back. My very first client was someone I’ve known my whole life. She saw me through my two teenage pregnancies and reinforced that I’m more than just a statistic and to keep looking forward and proving everyone wrong. That was my very first day on the job after launching my business, and it meant the world to me to hear those words, particularly then.
Do you have any plans to expand your business? We launched it in February of 2022, which is still relatively new. I knew it would be well received, but we’re crazy busy—we just exploded right from the get-go. In the following year, I’d like to get a few more vans and expand to more areas than just Cape May County. And I’d like to get into property management since we’re already doing concierge services.
What are some of your favorite NJ businesses? Fleck’s Ice Cream in Villas brings me back to my childhood. Growing up, I always got the Black Forest Sundae (vanilla ice cream, brownie chunks, hot fudge, and crushed-up cherries), and it’s still my go-to. I’m also devoted to Total Image Hair Salon—my mom was a hairdresser there for years. And Casiello Basketball has been a game-changer for my oldest son. The owner, T-John Casiello, has been training him for many years, and it shows.
What are some of your favorite family activities or places you enjoy together in NJ? Our favorite thing is going to Cape May. It’s where my husband and I first met, and it’s always meant so much to us. We held our gender reveals there and love going back to relax with the family, just walking around the promenade and going out to dinner. We’re crazy about the iconic Rusty Nail, and Taco Caballito is another new favorite. We also head to Wildwood’s Boardwalk, where we’ll check out the Splash Zone Water Park and maybe enjoy Sam’s Pizza, Curly Fries, and Fried Oreos.
Please share your best piece of advice for an NJ Mompreneur just starting. Owning a business consumes most of your time, so make time for yourself and your family. It’s your business, so it’s within your power to do your best never to miss a game or recital—you don’t want to miss seeing your kids grow up, and you’ll want to experience first-hand their enthusiasm for their activities and special events.