Style & Grace Cleaners

Scarborough Bluffs (East Toronto), ON
Owner: Nadine Rana

Grace and Neville Mungal (right) emigrated from Trinidad & Tobago in the late 1960s, settling in the Scarborough Bluffs area of East Toronto. Like many new Canadians, they combined their experience as business owners back in the islands with an inventive spirit and decided to pursue entrepreneurship in their new country. They purchased a One-Hour Martinizing franchise location in 1970.

Original storefront in 1970s.

Over the decades, the company expanded to a number of specialty brands, including Drape Master, Platinum Cleaners, Grace Wedding Gown Specialists, and more. They were joined by their son, Don Mungal, and the company flourished. Their youngest daughter, Nadine, also worked for the company in her early years, then moved on to work in the dental and banking industries. In 2015, however, she returned in an official capacity to support the family and company during Neville’s terminal battle with prostate cancer.

Nadine and Grace in wedding gown department.

Nadine poured her energy into expanding the wedding gown division and make it a leading revenue generator, as well as a known and respected name in the Toronto wedding industry. Rather than just cleaning and preserving gowns, Nadine and her mother, Grace, began offering an exclusive bridal experience. They focused on customer service, and delivering above and beyond cleaning for their wedding clients.

The new focus expanded to the garment cleaning and household goods divisions, and routes were added. In 2021, they rebranded Platinum Cleaners and Grace Wedding Gown Specialists into one brand: Style & Grace Cleaners. The name pays homage to founder Grace, as well as the company’s commitment to maintain and preserve customers’ items with style and grace.

Nitty Gritty

Union dry cleaning machine and drapery press.

The company operates one encompassing plant and store front between Style & Grace Cleaners and Drape Master. The 5,500-square-foot plant, located at 3678 St. Clair Ave. E. in Scarborough Bluffs, serves eastern and north Greater Toronto Area with pick-up and delivery services. The retail storefront is on the ground level of the building, with the plant also extending into the basement.

Equipment includes

Utility press in operation.
  • 2 Union dry cleaning machines running DF-2000 hydrocarbon
  • Miele washers and dryers for wet cleaning
  • 2 Hi-Steam Sam-451 multi-garment finishers
  • Sankosha collar-and-cuff unit
  • Veit up boards
  • 42″ and 45″ utility presses
  • 96″ drapery presses
  • 6-ft. and 9-ft. Ultrasonic blind cleaning units
  • Non-immersion drapery machines
  • Cleaning/spotting chemicals from Seitz, Streets and Kreussler
  • SMRT Systems POS
Loading van for deliveries.

Services include

  • Dry and wet cleaning
  • Wash & Fold
  • Alterations
  • Wedding gown cleaning and preservation (they’ve been members of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists for over 30 years)
  • Pickup and delivery

Services are marketed across a variety of platforms, including local events and publications, regional publications and digital platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

People First

At Style & Grace, people are everything. The company has 11 employees, including three generational family members. Team members know what is expected of them and strive to live up to the lofty vision the company maintains (See Sidebar).

Team meeting — anything but boring.

“When it comes to motivating our team, we are transparent in our goals and dreams for the future,” Nadine said. “We share our strategic goals with them, and meet together regularly to discuss achieving them. We have weekly department and manager meetings, as well as daily huddles, which incorporate not only the tasks for the day, but also include a variety of other focuses, including health and wellness, motivation, fun team-oriented games or activities.”

She also uses tools like OfficeVibe to “dive deeper into their everyday pain points, accomplishments and their individual dreams for their jobs, as well as outside of the business.”

Three generations: Vitto Rana, Nadine Rana, Grace Mungal, Don Mungal (CEO of Drapemaster), and Rosa Rana.

For young people, working in a cleaning plant is often an experience that launches them off to other things. Nadine not only encourages that, she celebrates it. “We are always so amazed at the number of former team members who have gone onto bigger and better things in pursuing their passions and careers,” she said. “One former team member went on to be a successful music producer who has won a Grammy Award for his talents. They often take time to come back and visit with us and reminisce about their first job as a young adult with our company.”

Training is taken very seriously, since it is inherent in the future success for each employee.

“Our staff is trained using a variety of resources, including internal guidelines, standard operating procedures, and leveraging a variety of industry training like that offered by DLI and other laundry/dry cleaning organizations,” Nadine said.

Staff members Madina, Alicia, Brett, Brittany, Denise, Khushi.

“We’re proud of the new onboarding process we’ve established over the last two years with the help of a human resources coach. Our onboarding process includes an in-depth 6-week job shadowing, training and self-study process, which allows each member to be cross-trained on additional tasks that may be asked of them.”

Making the best of bad times

When the global pandemic shuttered many plants (some forever), Style & Grace chose to use the time to double down on the basics to remind themselves and their staff why they existed as a company.

“We were fortunate to join Methods for Management just prior to the pandemic,” Nadine said. “Our coach and peers in this organization taught us the fundamentals of starting from ground zero again to build a valuable and more profitable business. Had we not joined, we might have been one of the statistics in our industry that closed permanently.”

Noreen working on shirt unit. All team members are cross trained to fill different roles as called upon.

Calling on others for advice is not a sign of weakness to Nadine, but one of strength. “One aspect of the industry I truly love is the camaraderie among industry members and associations when it comes to learning and growing with each other,” she said. “We were blessed with the gift of time during the pandemic to really invest in networking with industry leaders and various coaches to fully unlock our deeper purpose for being in the garment care industry – our Why – which we have identified is all about helping others, both our team and our customers.”

Tapping into the knowledge that is all around is at the top of Nadine’s list of advice for others who want to succeed in this industry.

Nadine and Grace.

“Surround yourself with successful business owners within the industry and beyond. Invest in coaches or mentors to help you build a strong foundation. We invested in coaches specifically geared in Customer Experience and HR to help us to define our mission/vision/core values, establishing processes for every area of our business.

“I encourage any business owner reading about our story to take the first step in allowing your team autonomy to put their ideas into action. A mentor once said to us, ‘The only way to grow is to allow your team to fail forward fast’. By doing so you’ll begin to realize that your only competitor in the great game of business is yourself from the day before. We couldn’t have made it through the 54 years and counting without our team!”

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