If you live in a New York City apartment, frequenting the dry cleaners and laundromat is probably considered one of your hobbies at this stage. (Washer and dryer in unit? We don’t know her.) But have you ever thought that absentmindedly sending your clothes out to whatever nearest place has a flashing ‘open late’ sign might be doing more harm than good? As fashion lovers who invest time, research, and money into our favorite pieces, we should be investing the same in ensuring that pieces are cared for by the right specialists. Madame Paulette, the first word in luxury cleaning and restoration, has now been acquired by ByNext, a technology-based company providing high quality and eco-friendly clothing care. The result? Madame Paulette’s 60-year expertise and knowledge, combined with ByNext’s state-of-the-art tracking, delivery, and billing—with sustainability in mind. We’re listening! As the two companies put their heads together to make clothing care more efficient than ever for New Yorkers, we caught up with Karen Jean-Aimee, director, luxury services at Madame Paulette, and ByNext CRO Perry Saifi to hear what we could all be doing better when it comes to maintaining our precious purchases.
What’s your backstory?
My love for fashion came at an early age due to both my mother and grandmother being seamstresses back in the ’70s and ’80s.
How did you become involved with Madame Paulette?
In 2006, I attended Berkeley College and was required to get myself into the fashion industry. Madame Paulette was hiring for a customer service representative at the time and that is how it all started. Since then, I have opened different departments at Madame Paulette and became an essential person here and, of course, I love what I do.
What does the average day look like for you?
Madame Paulette is a fast-paced environment. There is never a down moment. Our clients rely on us to provide the utmost clothing cleaning and care service. We strive to meet the needs of every client that enters our doors and I’m very passionate about this. No job is too small for us. “Under promise and over deliver!” It requires a constant level of focus, learning, teaching, and attention to detail.
How do you always strive for impeccable customer service and what marks Madame Paulette apart in this area?
Maintaining a positive attitude, having great listening skills and clear communication is what we hone in on. Product knowledge is very important, as are problem solving skills, and last but not least, having patience. New Yorkers are very demanding, as you know! But we take pride in connecting and building strong relationships with all of our customers.
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What’s one mistake you see people make all the time when caring for their clothes?
I often see people attempt to undertake the cleaning process at home after a food or wine stain, and fail in doing it properly, which potentially leads to damage to their clothes. Another common mistake is choosing the wrong or “cheaper” dry cleaner, leading to poor quality of service, then ultimately bringing the item to us to salvage the situation.
What’s one thing we could all be doing better when it comes to caring for our clothes?
Proper storage after every season! Furs need to be cleaned and moisturized before storage and so do leathers and suedes. Sweaters should be cleaned and stored on a hanger or folded, always in a dry, dark, and cool place. Using quality hangers makes such a difference as well, especially when it comes to the longevity of your clothes. Weaker hangers can cause certain clothes to lose their shape and often damage the shoulders of garments.
What’s one of your go-to hacks for getting a stain out before sending for a professional clean?
I use baby powder to help remove food or oil stains and then I send it for cleaning. It works every time!
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What do you wish people would stop doing when it comes to caring for their clothes at home?
I wish people would stop leaving their garments in the plastic bags after picking up from the dry cleaners. This really matters. Madame Paulette packages every complete garment in plastic covers to keep the item safe from exposure and maintain the pressing quality, however once you get home, please remove the item from the packaging! We recycle the plastic as well and we also use biodegradables. The garment cover leaves your clothing vulnerable over long periods of time to trap moisture, which leads to mold and mildew.
What’s the sweet spot for caring for vintage? How often should people be sending their pieces out for professional cleaning?
I love how the structure of garments and fashion trends come from the past always tells a story. You can learn a lot from vintage pieces and how they came about. However, please understand that vintage clothing items were manufactured in a time where the technology was not as advanced as it is today. Designers do not make garments now they way they used to. A great thing about Madame Paulette ByNext is we use a product called GreenEarthTM. It’s much gentler on garments than traditional perchloroethylene or petroleum dry cleaning methods, helping them look and feel new, extending their longevity. It’s also safer for our customers, staff, and the environment.
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Tell us about your vintage restoration services…what do people need to know?
If we feel the item is best suited not to go through the typical dry cleaning process, we will use a hand cleaning method. This expertise has been developed over years of training and experience with thousands and thousands of vintage pieces. Patience is very important in this matter, because vintage items are most likely delicate and need tender love and care. We maintain and preserve the integrity of every garment. Our skilled artisans and craftsmen safely eliminate all stains and hand finish vintage to perfection. Items are then carefully packed with acid-free tissue, sealed in protective bags or archival boxes.
What’s in the pipeline for ByNext?
Affluent spending patterns are rising towards luxury experiences and millennials are fueling the trend for high-touch personal services. Based on this demand and the void in the marketplace, and following the acquisition of Madame Paulette, we at ByNext will announce the launch of a luxury line for clothing care and premise care, as well as other high-touch luxury services for the affluent clientele. One thing Madame Paulette has lacked through the years is their limited use of technology and automation in their operation and customer experience. ByNext plans to modernize and expand the Madame Paulette brand to other markets and open shops in high-income locations like Beverly Hills, Potomac area, Palm Beach and the likes.
Tell us about your service offering?
ByNext is a true omni-channel, omni-service, single-source solution platform for all of your clothing and premise cleaning and care needs. We strive to provide the best service, maximum flexibility, convenience, and to bring environmentally friendly practices in everything they do. Our expansive service offering will include traditional concierge and emerging services, such as peer-to-peer clothing rental, luxury consignment, dedicated personal concierge and more, all provided online or in-person through our high-end flagship locations. The access fashion obsessive individuals and businesses will have to our luxury services is unmatched in our industry!
What do people need to know?
Because we’re barcoding items and keeping track of clothing data (brands, colors, sizes, frequency of use) – we can provide information and transparency back to our fashion partners and individuals that can be used for retention tools, lifecycle management of garments, perks, and wardrobe asset reports. We are starting to understand the makeup of one’s closet with the goal in mind to create a) a marketplace to allow our user base to monetize what’s in their wardrobe and b) a decision making AI to help our customers mix and match their clothes through our intuitive app.
What are some sustainability focuses?
Our job is to provide an eco-friendly service without compromising the quality of the garment we deliver. We are the largest exclusively GreenEarth dry cleaning service provider in the New York Metro area and we stand by our word. Some 90% of dry cleaners in the country still use a solvent called ‘PERC’ for their cleaning; which the NIH deems a carcinogen! At ByNext we only use GreenEarth Cleaning & Wet Cleaning solutions in our production and continue to make strong efforts in providing the best customer care while leaving behind the smallest environmental footprint.
What are some benefits of your process?
Gentler on fabrics, which means no odor and an increased garment life cycle. Clothes stay brighter for longer which also increases garment life cycle. No hazardous or potentially skin irritating conditions are involved either.
Visit bynext.co for more info.