Imagine growing up in a Communist country where your parents waited hours in line to buy food, where Christmas wasn’t much more than oranges and bananas and TV had only two channels. The only language that children could study in school was Russian.
This was young Jitka Borowick’s life in the former Czechoslovakia, under Communist rule.
Years later, the “Velvet Revolution” spelled the end of Communism and her country embraced Western ideas. Fast forward to 2003: Borowick moved to Cape Cod and five years later founded her own business, Cleangreen.
As a young adult, she had secured a job in a Prague company, but she quickly realized it was important to become fluent in English to work in the European global economy.
She left the Czech Republic and moved to Cape Cod to become more fluent in English. She improved her fluency by helping a family with three teenagers and by taking classes through the Cape Cod Literacy Council.
Despite these efforts, she didn’t achieve the level of fluency she felt was needed to succeed on an international level. Cape Cod became her permanent home and another dream took root: that of owning her own business, inspired by a friend, Pamela McDermott, who ran her own PR business while raising two daughters.
“Pam owned her own marketing firm, McDermott Ventures, in Boston,” Borowick recalls. “While I was studying at Cape Cod Community College, I helped care for her children as a nanny. During that time, Pam took me under her wings and allowed me to assist her at McDermott Ventures. She not only lent her expertise and guidance, but she showed a belief in me that was important in building my confidence. Sometimes that’s all we need – that belief that we matter and that we are important.”
While caring for her friend’s children, Borowick had also picked up another skill, cleaning, from the family’s housekeeper and saw an opportunity with the Cape’s seasonal economy fueling a need for residential cleaning services and the increasing consumer demand for safer cleaning products in homes and businesses.
In 2008, Borowick graduated with an associate’s degree from Cape Cod Community College and opened Cleangreen in Barnstable with a staff of one: herself.
“I wanted to build the best cleaning company on Cape Cod and to offer great customer service and use natural products,” she says.
Cleangreen’s mission is to provide safe, effective and affordable cleaning options that support clients’ well-being and contribute to environmental sustainability. A Cape & Islands Green Verified business, Cleangreen uses environmentally friendly practices from their office operations to their cleaning products and methods. Borowick meticulously researched “green” products, using different brands for different tasks, depending on which brand gave the best results. Cleangreen even makes its own eco-friendly window cleaner.
Today, Cleangreen has 20 employees who take care of numerous residential and commercial clients. Borowick continued her higher education and received a master’s degree in 2011 from Suffolk University.
Cleangreen has garnered numerous accolades including “Best of Cape Cod” from Cape Cod Magazine readers (2012 to 2016); 2014 Business of the Year from the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce; and 2016 Small Business Owner of the Year from Cape Cod SCORE. Her entrepreneurial spirt has been personally recognized as well: in 2017 Borowick received the Community Advocacy Award from Eastern Bank; 2018 Alumna of the Year from Cape Cod Community College; and a 10 Under 10 Award from Suffolk University in 2018.
Borowick has also been acknowledged: she was named to the “40 Under 40” list of business people from Cape & Plymouth Business; recognized as “10 Inspiring Women” by Cape Cod Magazine; named Business Woman of the Year in 2015 by Cape & Plymouth Business; and received the 2019 Enterprising Women of the Year Award from Enterprising Women Magazine. She is a sought-after inspirational speaker for community organizations and has mentored women through WE CAN and other community organizations.
Now married with an 8-year-old daughter, Borowick is conscious of the work-life balance faced by many women.
“It can be easy to bring work home with you, but we should find time to separate the two and understand when to focus on yourself, your family, and your personal interests,” she says.
Among the keys to her business success are building a reputation for excellence in services, networking, community involvement and supporting women, whether it’s her staff, her circle of friends, or other female business owners.
“I’m a firm believer that each one of us can benefit from positive reinforcement, guidance, encouragement, and help in all aspects of our lives,” says Borowick.
Her staff is nearly 100 percent female and she works hard to create a work environment that is fun, challenging and rewarding. “I also strive to support them individually and collectively, encouraging them not only as members of my staff, but as women with personal and professional dreams,” she adds.
All start-ups face challenges, but Borowick feels the biggest hurdle to overcome is that internal voice of doubt. “Launching a business requires confidence, self-esteem, passion, and resilience. It can be easy to get discouraged, especially in the beginning,” she says. “Almost everyone has experienced tough times, but you have to be patient while your business grows. Many times I’ve asked myself, ‘why am I doing this!’ Once, after several years, we were suddenly having this cash flow problem and I just didn’t understand what had happened. I realized I could feel like a failure and let it bring me down, but I looked at it as a learning experience. I told myself I will get this figured out.’”
“As entrepreneurs, we all have dreams,” she continues. “It’s turning those dreams into a concrete plan that allows us to achieve them. Once we do that, it’s important to remember that we must continue to take small steps that allow us to move our businesses forward so we can grow individually and professionally.”
An avid runner and cyclist and a certified yoga instructor, Borowick is fond of using her experience participating in the 2017 Mt. Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hill Climb as a metaphor for her approach to business and life.
A 7.6-mile climb, it’s considered one of the toughest climbs in the world. “And of course, my goal was to place in the Top 10 for women,” she recalls with a smile. “But when I started pedaling, I realized that would be impossible. I had never biked such steep hills in my life. Several times I wanted to give up. But I kept pedaling. Instead of focusing on the big picture, I set smaller, more achievable goals. Every time I finished one hill, I set my sights on the next one.”
The next hill she’s climbing is opening a new business, a yoga studio geared to athletes called Nové, Czech for “new.” The venture, in West Dennis, incorporates the mindfulness she treasures personally and professionally as well as the importance of taking care of oneself.
“I love the challenge of building something,” says Borowick. “It’s thrilling, exciting, and a meaningful way to channel my energy and passion to turning my dreams into a reality.”
Cleangreen, Barnstable, https://cleangreencapecod.com