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New-Business Swing

Written by J. D. Thrasher

newbusinessswingWith every ticking minute, undergraduate Shanika Brown strategically answers questions on her political science final exam. When she finishes, she will leave Pitt for the summer to apply similar knowledge and skills—not for academic reasons, but for her own small-business venture. Instead of focusing on historical facts and political processes, Brown will hone her decision-making and time-management skills by launching and operating a professional business.

In 2005, Brown and her older sister, Shariah, started a Harrisburg-based venture called Personal Touch Professional Cleaning Service. At the time, Brown was a junior at Pitt. The pair founded the company as a way to improve their family’s financial situation after their mother was laid off from her job. They were used to tackling household chores and knew they could be successful with a cleaning firm. Plus, the business was a quick start-up with low overhead, relying on family employees and long hours to transition the company into a viable enterprise.

Today, Brown (A&S ’06) is senior vice president of Personal Touch, overseeing marketing, sales, and finance. She also is vice president of marketing and franchise relations for Dirty Dog Franchising Group, a partner company that offers junk-removal services.

Inspired by her political science background, she keeps both companies sensitive to environmental and humanitarian issues. Personal Touch cleans “green” by using environmentally safe products, and Dirty Dog often recycles household goods, giving them to women’s shelters or families in need. “We are trying to put a new swing on an old business,” Brown says. Soon, she hopes to franchise the cleaning business statewide, using her own personal touch to advance the industry.