MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On a typically busy afternoon at First U.S. Linen in Opa-Locka, machines are humming as workers move huge bins of linens through each stage of the laundering process.

The commercial laundry company provides service to restaurants and small boutique hotels in the tri-county area.

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Odette Trigo owns First U.S. Linen in Opa Locka (CBS4)

Odette Trigo is the owner.

“We provide linen rentals for restaurants. Napkins and tablecloths, and we do launder linen for hotels as well,” Trigo explained.

Trigo was born in Chile, raised in Brazil, and came to Miami 20 years ago.

The graduate of business school always knew she wanted to be her own boss.

“I had a dream. I said, ‘maybe someday’ I will have a business and I will give work to people.”

She left the corporate world and turned entrepreneur, first buying a coin laundry.

Then, 15 years ago, starting this company, which has grown to twenty-five employees whom she calls family.

During the pandemic, needing some help, she turned to the Miami Bayside Foundation.

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The nonprofit organization’s goal is to advance minority and women-owned businesses and further job growth.

“We do weekend courses on financial literacy and digital marketing getting deeper into the weeds with small businesses,” said Michael Sellinger, MBF loan director.

“A lot of time we are helping them understand their books and get their financials in order.”

Trigo says she took all the courses and admits the marketing was very helpful, as she wasn’t very good with technology.

The marketing skills led to new clients.

Since 2011, the foundation has provided assistance to over 600 minority-owned businesses including Patricia Angel, who is from Venezuela, owns a web-based school supply business called Zolut.

She took advantage of the free workshop through MBF taught in Spanish.

“It was great. They teach us how we can open a company, how you can find any resources that we don’t know have, how we can be a vendor for public schools, the county, and the state. They teach us a lot.”

For Trigo, the assistance was a lifeline that included a loan to purchase more machines and increase staff, as well as some valuable intangibles.

“The money, most of the time is not everything. The knowledge that they give you, that is the important part. They teach you; they care about you; they hold your hand and they say ‘let’s do this!’”

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There are other ways that MBF is assisting minority-owned and women-owned businesses, for more on that you can visit their website here. 

Karli Barnett