03 Mar 2010

The Hipster Housecleaner

So there was this Craigslist ad.

Hipster Housecleaner H St NE

“Like most hipsters I spend my time being totally ironic and getting seriously awesome. I recently lost my job being hella tight, looking sweet while hanging out in American Apparel and started a business cleaning houses and doing chores. I offer services that are so basic it’s almost not funny; except it is, because while you’re at work you can think about how badass I’m being at your house. You can rest easy with the fact that a sweet dude in skinny jeans is totally taking out the garbage and cleaning your toilet etc. + If you tip me a 6er of PBR I’ll totally update your iTunes collection with the freshest jams so you can impress your friends with your new-found musical knowledge.”

I learned about him the way I learn about so many things, on the Moms on the Hill listserv. I thought the ad was hilarious. I live near and work on H Street, yet that is where my similarity to the hipster world begins and ends. The MOTH who posted the ad sang high praises of the HH’s services so I was intrigued…and I needed help. Could I ask a hipster to clean my messy house? Playing Wii with my kids I could see, but scrubbing my baseboards?

When not running a vacuum, the Hipster Housecleaner’s true identity is Philip Goyette, a twenty-something transplant from Minneapolis.  Philip came to DC two and a half years ago after spending some time running the PIRG program there. The long hours left him little time to enjoy the privileges of youth, so when he made the move to DC he chose to earn his living in a less stressful way. He worked at hipster staples Urban Outfitters, the Apple Store and, of course, that hella tight turn at American Apparel.

After the loss of the AA gig he turned to odd cleaning jobs from craigslist and began working for regular customers in the Palisades area. A friend suggested the name Hipster Housecleaner and on a whim Philip posted the ad.

At that moment, Aaron Cox-Richard’s partner Maria was posting that she was looking for cleaning help. She saw the Hipster ad and was amused by clever poster, and thought his retail management experience meant he was reliable and clever.

Philip has been cleaning for the family for a while and they are thrilled with his service. His original style extends to the services he provides. For the Cox-Richard family this means twice a week he shows up at 6pm just as they are finishing up dinner. While they spend some pre-bedtime playtime with the kids he tackles the kitchen. After bedtime, he heads to the living room. By the time they put their four children (under three years old!!) to bed the whole first floor is clean.

What’s it like having a hipster see your house and by extension your life at its least presentable? Cox-Richard said, “I just couldn’t imagine feeling comfortable with a super hip kid dealing with my messy house, but it’s worked out.”

Philip’s inbox filled up with requests after Maria posted her rave on MOTH. He absolutely cleans bathrooms and folds laundry, all those years in retail paying off. Shortly after his newfound celebrity with Hill moms Philip was hit by a car while on his bike. He should be up and scrubbing again soon though.

During our brief interview at SOVA he was polite, open, enthusiastic and intensely upbeat, betraying no attitude or snark. Sure, he was decked in skinny jeans, leather jacket, the ubiquitous t shirt and red kicks (his term but I knew what it meant because I watch Entourage.) He was easy to talk to and not at all condescending to to this person of advanced age despite the fact the she occasionally had to struggle to understand him. This happened when I asked, were I to slip him some PBR, just how would he update my iTunes. When he began talking about bands it was as if I was suddenly no longer a native English speaker. Ouch. I have homework to do.

I had to ask the Mommy-esque question–did he have  health insurance? Well, no. But he was quick to point out his ambitions for Hipster Housecleaner, for which he has purchased the domain and is finalizing a logo. Nearly at capacity with clients, he hopes to expand the brand and, yes, get insurance. Imagine a fleet of skinny pants-wearing happy hipsters cleaning the homes of DC! Maybe someday a line a ironic cleaning products??

Should your toilet need some badass cleaning you can reach Philip at hipsterhousecleaner{at}gmail{dot}com.

Tags:


  • mch

    So hard-working Latinas and black women now have to compete on ‘style’ in the housekeeping business?

    And why do people hate gentrifiers?

  • Louis Verno

    This entire post was a joke right? An attempt at Onion style satire? It wasn’t that funny, but if a) this guy is someone’s idea of a hipster, and b) the comments about him were not meant ironically, then my god- that was painful. I mean really. Get a clue. I will say “I just couldn’t imagine feeling comfortable with a super hip kid dealing with my messy house” was a great humor line, if it was a satire.

  • Kyra

    Seems that in our ever-changing, always technologically advancing world even house cleaners need a gimmick. Good luck to the entrepreneurial hipster (which is certainly an oxymoron if ever I’ve heard one).

    Lucky for everyone, mch, there are plenty of cleaning jobs to go around, and there are plenty of people who can do the job–there are nannies who care for and clean house, brigades of maids, greener cleaners and now hipster hunks.

  • http://www.theamazingshake.com Micki

    So…it just so happens that Phil is MY kid. And, of course the ad was ironic. Snark and sarcasm are the tools of the trade in my house, and he learned his lessons well.

    Entrepreneurism is also hardwired–his grandpa (my dad) was instrumental in the development of the remodeling council of NAHB, and I own a nutrition club in St. Paul.

    As for the oxymoron potential–hipster is a frame of mind that can superimpose itself on any mindset. It turns out that Gen X and Y folks really are NOT necessarily the slackers that they were portrayed, nor are my Generation, the Baby Boomers, all self-involved, entitled asshats.

    I’m so proud of Phil for taking what could have been an awful situation–being laid off in DC–and turning it into a business!

  • http://livitluvit.com LiLu

    This? Is. BRILLIANT.

  • Kyra Deblaker-Gebhard

    I’m one of the fans! No need to defend Phil to me.

    Like I said, everyone needs a gimmick. Even if Phil is hipster in name only (I’ve never met him, so I can’t say), you’ve got to admit that hipster and capitalism don’t go hand in hand.

  • Maria Carey

    I would like to add that Philip did an amazing job today at my house. You have a great, hardworking son, Mr. Goyette, and you should be proud :)

  • http://facebook.com/liamsumnicht Liam Sumnicht

    AWESOME.

    humor, style, and good hard work.

    nice job, Phil. I salute you.

  • http://dcalex.blogspot.com Alex

    This ad went viral, so the whole world has seen it, even me. It never occurred to me that it was more than a joke — nice work, Jen, in showing us the human being behind it.

  • 10th St

    You know what “kicks” are because you watch Entourage and you asked this poor guy if he had health insurance? HILARIOUS. Great post!

  • the smudge

    heyyo Phil will you clean my kicks? ;)
    awesome press homie, lovin the hater comments. and I love that yer moms said “asshats”.

    YO! Phil is the man people, and the usage of a “gimmick” is highly profitable and clever.
    btw is that your purse in the picture?

  • http://www.headofrothchild.com Reed Rothchild

    Superman wears Philip Goyette pajams.

  • Sara

    Those first two comments can kiss my non-hipster ass.

  • Caroline

    Is Phil single?

  • http://seedsinthecity.blogspot.com Jennifer

    Phil has definitely taken yeast and made PBR here. I would that more folks would take his example – find out what you are good at and figure out how to make an enjoyable life from it.

    Good job and good luck Phil!

  • Chuck

    I found this through The Consumerist. Phil sounds like both a fun guy and a good entrepreneur. I don’t get the hate. He’s supporting himself instead of living off Mom, he’s performing a service people want, he isn’t being pretentious; the only negative thing I can find is that he drinks PBR (ick!). Get well soon!

    It’s wonderful that his mom posted her to defend him for being a productive member of society. She should be proud that she did such a good job with him.

    I don’t get the thing about Latinas and black women being hurt. Are you saying that’s the only job they can get or are you saying white men shouldn’t scrub toilets? Funny how your first thought when housecleaning is mentioned is that minority women should be doing it.

  • Jango Fett

    “So hard-working Latinas and black women now have to compete on ’style’ in the housekeeping business?”

    Maybe if places like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters or anywhere else would hire them they wouldn’t have to clean your house, you smug dork.

    Traditionally that “unwanted” work was given to minorities so rich, pampered white folks could pay them poorly and because that work was “beneath them”.

    I applaud this kid for taking a bad break, using humor and, yes, an over-hyped trend, and turning it into a job for himself. FYI: I don’t think he can fake cleaning your toilet, even if he fakes an interest In Kierkegaard.

  • Alegra

    Ditto Jango’s comment. As a hardworking Latina who did, in fact, clean houses while working my way through college (first generation American AND college graduate, thankyouverymuch)… get a clue, mch. It’s not 1955 anymore, and while I can attest to the fact that racism is still alive and well, I hardly think it needs your support. While I’m sure there are at least a few brown women who enjoy their “menial” jobs, I’m thinking the majority of us would appreciate not being the Faces of Housekeeping Worldwide. After all, in the new millennium, plenty of white people have learned how to use a mop and broom. It’s astonishing!

    Go get ‘em, white boy. Make a killing.

  • Mike

    “Maybe if places like American Apparel, Urban Outfitters or anywhere else would hire them they wouldn’t have to clean your house, you smug dork.”

    Maybe if they’d bother to become actual citizens and/or learn to speak English, they could get other jobs.

    As much as I think hipsters with their ball squishing girl pants, prairie dog bandannas, cartoon character mustaches and whiny music are ridiculous- Kudos for taking things upon yourself, selling an idea and making it work.

    Perhaps when he sees all the fees and taxes the government is going to take from his humble business, he’ll have enough sense to. at least, stop being a liberal.

  • Austin

    @Mike
    I think that’s probably a pretty safe bet.

    Now, if only a few more liberals were willing to get their hands dirty, and experience the real word.

    Hats off to this guy.

    I wonder how much longer “Profits” and “Capitalism” will be filthy words, to be hissed and spat, while among his fellow hipsters…

    When he expands to the point where he’s hiring employees, I wonder if he’ll help them organize protests against his “corporate greed” and “excessive profits”…

  • Lovey

    @Mike @Austin

    So all black women and Latinas aren’t citizens or can’t speak English?

    Those are some rather grand accusations.

    And honestly, hard work makes you MORE liberal, not less. Get a job, you bums.

  • Len

    It boggles the mind how people will allow anything from off the street into their homes. This person has no workers comp, liability or bonding insurance.

    Insanity abounds

  • http://don´thaveone ibp

    i just want to say to the person that said ¨So hard-working Latinas and black women now have to compete on ’style’ in the housekeeping business?¨

    why should black and latino be cleaning white peps homes. maybe this will give them space to get a job that they like! if the kid is happy with his work and is doing it well what is your problem???? oh, let me guess, you like having a racist world where only black and latinos can clean!!??? right. get real.

    p.s. i am a latino! i like the fact that maybe just maybe people can find a job that they like and not just becuase they don´t have anything else that they are aloud to do. bravo to this kid for making something for himslef in a tight situcation.

  • Gigi

    I just wish there was a hipster housecleaner in Boston.

    Also I wish the world had more housecleaning robots.

    So optimum situation = hipster housecleaner w/robot sidekicks. Yes, I look forward to the day.

  • kiki

    I think its awesome that in tough economic times a young man got his crap together and did what he needed to do to pay the bills. Why are so many people cracking on this saavy young entrepeneur? People are always cracking on my generation for its lack of motivation and responsibility, well here is a fine example of the exception to the “rule” so to speak. If I could afford him, I would totally hire him.

    And to “mch” (and wnyone else who said somethign similar) I really hope your post was a joke, not only was that completely ignorant, but it was just moronic. And rather racist. Why is housecleaning a niche limited to a) a women; b) people of color? Last time I checked, anyone with arms and legs could clean a house. Idiot.

  • Robert M

    “I had to ask the Mommy-esque question–did he have health insurance? ”

    To which I would reply with an American answer: Why is that any of your business?

  • http://www.twitter.com/mcfrancis Marie

    @Micki: You are one cool hipster mother! Philip is lucky to have you.

    Best of luck on your new business, Phil!