In conversation with Orange Sky Laundry

It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks for Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett of Orange Sky Laundry since they were named 2016’s Young Australians of the Year in January. We caught up with Patchett to learn more about the journey of the world’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless to date. Image 5 - Orange Sky Laundry

From little things, big things grow

“Crazy” is how Patchett describes what life has been like since launching Orange Sky Laundry in 2014, when both he and best mate Marchesi were aged 20.  “We started it [Orange Sky Laundry] purely as a fun project to get us and our mates involved in something, because we wanted to give back to the community in a really simple but tangible way.”

The pair converted the first Orange Sky Laundry van themselves, less than two years later there are mobile laundry vans operating in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Southeast Victoria, Sydney and Perth. Each van is equipped with two 10kg industrial washers and dryers that provide 20kg of clean washing to homeless Australians out every hour.

Over 270 volunteers and a range of donors, both corporate and independent, currently support Orange Sky Laundry’s work. Patchett says: “On one given day we might meet someone doing it pretty tough in the morning, washing their clothes. Then in the afternoon we’ll meet someone who is looking at supporting us. It’s the people that we are meeting along this journey – that’s what really keeps us going.”

Making it happen

Orange Sky Laundry is steadily growing their initiative into a national one, with the view to grow it internationally too. When quizzed on what aspiring not-for-profits can do to bring their ideas to life, Patchett says ‘to just give it a crack’.  He says: “We all have ideas. We can all sit around a table and throw ideas out there, but it’s about getting up and doing something about the idea. It’s really where the impact can be had. We had this idea [for Orange Sky Laundry] and we got up and made it happen and it really went from there.“

He also notes the power of simplicity. “The simplest ideas can have the biggest impact. Don’t overcomplicate things and define what your product is. For us our product is we’ve got this bright orange van and with that it costs $6 to wash and dry someone’s clothes. That product is what makes us and keeps our message simple.”

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