January 3, 2022
WomensNet is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2021 annual $25,000 Year-End Amber Grant for Women.
She is Danell Eklund from Carver, Minnesota. Danell won the July 2021 Amber Grant, and is the founder of 212 Junk Services, LLC.
Danell’s busy year has seen her business grow exponentially. And, with the year-end grant, she has plans to grow part of her business in the way of sustainability – by keeping items that can be repurposed out of the landfill. Here are the highlights, in her words:
WomensNet: Hi everyone. This is Yamalis Hernandez with WomensNet/Amber Grants for Women. I am so excited to be introducing you to our $25,000 winner. Our winner is from July, 2021: 212 Junk Removal. And we are talking today with the president, Danell Eklund. We are so excited to be connecting with you again and chatting to see what you’ve been up to.
To begin, thank you so much for being here. Maybe you can tell us how the $10,000 has helped your business.
Danell: First of all, thank you for having me here. I’m so grateful to be here. It’s been an incredible journey for me since receiving the $10,000. I had chosen to utilize those funds to upgrade the equipment for the business. One thing that I did do was put those funds into a new used vehicle for the business, which has been really neat. It’s helped my customer base grow exponentially. It’s also allowed me to take on bigger jobs. And another thing that that truck has provided me with is a source of advertisement.
One thing that we do with the truck — I park the vehicle in a busy shopping area or a place like Costco or Home Depot. On the sides of the vehicle, there’ll be signage similar to the one that you see behind me. And so there’s gorilla marketing happening there. So customers that frequent these places will see the signage and actually give me a call based on what they’re seeing. So it’s a free form of advertisement for me when the vehicle is not in use. I’m finding that I can use the vehicle itself for a form of advertising, which, has gone extremely well.
WomensNet: I love it. You’re meeting people right where they’re at. Literally.
Danell: And what a great opportunity places like Home Depot are for me. People are always renovating and getting rid of old things and å[bringing] in the new things once they’re there. And so it’s been a very popular thing for me to do.
WomensNet: Now that you have been awarded the $25,000, we are so excited to see what you’re going to do with these funds in the next year. So maybe can you tell us a little bit about how you plan on using these funds?
Danell: Well, of course, I’m so thrilled. When I started this business, one of the visions that I had was to be expanding outside my home base, and these funds are going to allow me to be able to do that much sooner than I could have ever imagined. So that’s absolutely exciting for me. One of the things that I’ll be doing is expanding my home base out into a warehouse area. So I’m currently looking for a lease on a warehouse, a small warehouse. And what that will allow me to do is keep more of the items that I pick up in storage longer. I don’t have the available space to do that [now]. And what that’s gonna do for my business is give me the opportunity to either find someone to upsell the items to, or it’ll find me an organization that I can donate those items to.
This is something that I deal with, or struggle with, frequently in this business. I don’t have the spatial resources in order to keep things aside. A lot of what I deal with is things that could be donated or up-cycled, or that somebody else could utilize. They don’t actually get to the person that could use them, simply because I don’t have the storage space to do that. And having the additional space is going to allow me the time in order to find that home for that piece of furniture or a donation center that can accept that bed. So it’s going to beneficial for my business to have that extra space. And of course, a portion of the money is going to be used to finance more equipment so that I can haul bigger and better loads, which is going to grow my customer base even more, which I’m so thrilled about.
And again, putting it into advertisements is gonna be the key that this money is going to go towards for me.
WomensNet: Wonderful. I love that you’re being thoughtful with the items that you collect and are repurposing them so that other people can use them. It’s just amazing for other people and it’s amazing for our environment. So it’s a win-win for everybody. I absolutely love that.
WomensNet: When you think about your business, what differentiates you from your competitors that are in the community?
Danell: I would actually have to say there’s an emotional component that goes with some of what I do. You know, some of this is just straightforward, junk removal. People just wanna get rid of their clutter. On another hand, sometimes there’s an emotional component to what I do. When someone calls me when they’ve lost a loved one and they’re trying to get rid of their things. Or maybe a senior citizen calls me, and they’re having to downsize their home into a smaller apartment. And the items that I’m taking are not necessarily items that these people want to get rid of. It’s something they have to do, which is so unfortunate. I think that’s one thing that I do successfully. I listen to their stories, and there’s this compassionate part of me that feels like I I need to make sure that they understand that I’m respectful towards their things and that I care about what’s happening in their life.
This job is not just a transaction for me. I feel like there’s a lot more. I feel like I need to connect with my clients on a higher level than just taking their junk. And so I think that differentiates me from my competitors in this area. Just having that emotional intelligence, having a higher emotional intelligence.
Another thing that differentiates me a little bit is just the flexibility that I offer. I do have the means to not have physical contact with my client. So my clients are able to schedule their pickups online or through social media, which is kind of neat. I can take payment online and they don’t even need to be home when the pickup takes place. So that’s kind of a neat feature. We are all busy; life is busy these days. And being able to offer that to clients, to work around their schedules, has been really great. And I think that differentiates me also.
WomensNet: That’s wonderful. It sounds that you are meeting people where they’re at, if you’re available to them, if they wanna tell you their story. And you’re also available for them, if they just want it done, with as little interaction as possible. So that’s awesome that you’re paying attention to what they’re telling you, their needs, and giving them that.
Danell: It is. It’s an incredible experience and I’ve met so many wonderful people along the way. I’ve been incredibly blessed to be a part of many journeys.
WomensNet: Along with that, though, I’m sure that you’ve encountered some challenges. Maybe can you share a little bit about some of your challenges… what they’ve been, how you’ve worked through them.
Danell: Sure. There’s a physical challenge to what I do. Of course we all have physical limitations. And so that is one of the biggest limitations that I can think about right now — just being physically limited to certain things. We all have that threshold and I’m certainly not immune to it. But, there is that component of it. And so no matter what type of equipment that I have, there is still that issue, that there are those physical limitations.
Another thing that I still struggle with is showing up on a job site and somebody saying to me, ‘oh, I thought that you just answered the phone…’ or things like that. I feel like I consistently need to prove myself and my capabilities. And so those are some things that I struggle with — still to this day. And I feel like I’ll still struggle with that for some time, if not always. And so that’s okay. The one thing that I can do to overcome that is to just continue doing what I’m doing, and continue posting pictures and continue just documenting what I can do. And so it’s not necessarily what I can’t do, it’s what I can do. So I’ll continue to take that route and, you know, the proof is in the pudding, so to speak.
WomensNet: Absolutely. And we’re so proud that you’re not letting that get to you. One final question. How can the WomensNet network support you in your business?
Danell: Liking me on Facebook would be a great start. I would always appreciate that (212 Junk Removal Services). That would be wonderful. Just knowing that there’s a support system out there for me and similar business entrepreneurs is such a force. That’s amazing in itself. And so, so supportive.
WomensNet: We can do that. And we are so happy to have awarded you the $25,000. We look forward to following you through this next year and seeing what else you continue to do. So thank you so much for your time and for sharing your story and for being honest about everything. We know that there are challenges and yet you continue to stick with it and overcome them.
Danell: Thank you. Thank you to WomensNet, and thank you everyone out there.