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Off The Cuff: Get to Know.... Colleen Unema

Owner, Brio Cleaners

CHICAGO — In this latest installment of Off the Cuff, where readers can meet and learn more about someone from the fabricare industry, let’s get to know Colleen Unema, owner, Brio Cleaners.

Tell us where you were born, grew up, and reside today?

“Born and raised right here in Bellingham, Wash., where my laundry is located. I went to college and grad school in Michigan, met and married my husband out there before moving back to Washington.”

Hobbies (that you’ll admit to)?

“I have wholesome hobbies like sewing, reading — actually I play Candy Crush — and knitting.”

What gets you excited at work?

“It is new every day. The good, the bad, the ugly keeps it interesting. Laundry is still easier than teaching high school. I am a believer in ‘know your limit and play within it,’ philosophy so I have surrounded myself with really great people who like to do what I don’t like, or I simply don’t know how to do it with smarts. My best days are when I circulate amongst customers and chat up a storm.”

Lastly, tell us a secret (keep it clean) nobody knows about you?

“I was born and raised in retail! My father was one of 12; and nine siblings owned their own retail or service stores. My dad sold appliances with my uncle. That store is still in business. I have 65 first cousins and the vast majority own stores, businesses, practices or the like. Two cousins owned competing furniture stores down the block from one another. Not even kidding! My own siblings are or were self employed. Owning Brio Laundry and Brio Cleaners comes pretty natural — the late night calls, the double checking doors.... I grew up this way.”

(Do you want to take part in an Off the Cuff, or know someone who does? E-mail [email protected].)