Double Concordia alum finds her niche in an unusual event sector.
Picture yourself at a beautiful outdoor wedding, watching the ceremony seated by a babbling brook surrounded by green trees and gorgeous flowers. Under a moonlit tent, you enjoy a sit-down dinner where every detail is perfect. You can't imagine a more romantic setting. Then nature calls and you head for the restroom – a small, dirt-splattered, plastic blue port-a-potty leaning to one side that looks like it has seen better days. A port-a-potty? In this elegant environment? In your nicest attire? If only there was a way to make the bathroom match the grace and charm of the rest of the event. That's where Concordia undergrad and MBA alum Ashley Vizcaino comes in.
Enjoying the comforts of home – wherever you are
"My family is in the RV business," Vizcaino says. "So when I had the idea for a restroom trailer – something nice that could be used at events – I spoke with a manufacturer in the industry who helped me realize the idea." And with that, Formal Flush was born.
According to Vizcaino, the idea behind Formal Flush is to bring luxury restroom trailers to any event – everything from outdoor weddings and corporate retreats to family reunions, parties, or any other event that needs restrooms for staff or guests.
At the beginning of each year, Vizcaino makes the bridal show circuit, which is where she receives a good deal of bookings – some directly from the engaged couple and some from venues without proper restrooms who make referrals. While the wedding industry is a big part of the business, Formal Flush works with people producing a wide array of events. "Construction and emergency services are another segment of our work," Vizcaino notes.
From functional to fabulous
While the idea of a traveling luxury restroom may sound a little unusual, it provides a dramatic – and people-pleasing – alternative to the traditional cramped and dingy port-a-potty.
Each trailer includes two private restrooms. High-end toilets feature hands-free flushing. Need to fix your hair or touch-up your make-up? A large counter with copper sink provides plenty of space – along with hot and cold water. The trailers also feature heating and air conditioning, as well as LED lighting both inside and out. "We designed our trailers to feel like a fully decorated luxury home," says Vizcaino. And the trailers are built for off-road capabilities, so even if your event is in the middle of nowhere, you're covered.
The perfect fit
Vizcaino graduated from Concordia University with a degree in business administration and accounting, then came back to earn her MBA. "Concordia helped me realize that I don't have to know everything. Instead, they gave me the tools so I can find the answers. With my grad program, for example, I was exposed to frameworks so we could analyze data and different business scenarios."
While some look for a large campus, Vizcaino cites the small feel of Concordia as another big positive. "I liked knowing the professors and having the professors know me," she says. "Establishing relationships has been the best experience of all. I have wonderful, close friends, whom I consider family that I met in my undergrad and graduate program – relationships I will have the rest of my life. I would definitely recommend Concordia to others."
Making it happen
So what advice would this successful start-up entrepreneur give to those thinking about starting a business? "Give it a go and you'll be surprised how happy people are to help you succeed," she says. "This was hard for me, as I can be shy. But I signed up for every networking event I could find. When the lightbulb went off in my head for this idea, I immediately moved forward with it. I established a website and marketing materials before I even received my first restroom unit. Going with your gut feeling is something to really consider."