Say It Isn’t So…

I recently received a phone call and the caller said, “ I want to share with you that I will be retiring on May 21, 2014.” Being involved in the dry cleaning industry as many years as I have,
I have seen so many individuals retire. Each time, they take away with them a piece of the dry cleaning tapestry/history. None so much as this individual.

I first met this individual in the early 1980s. This energetic dynamic person shared a passion for the industry that few people have. And just listening to this person gave you the knowledge and enthusiasm to go and be a better professional dry cleaner than you have ever been. In case you have not guessed, I am talking about Doris Easley.

Doris was born in North Dakota. In the early days, she wanted to be a nurse. But at 4’11”, she could not make the height requirements so she decided to become a teacher instead. She married and she and her husband moved to California in 1943 and started a dry cleaning business in Richmond. After a divorce, she was left with the dry cleaning business and three children to raise. From that time, she took every class she could in handling fabrics. Doris developed her own tools and techniques for cleaning fabric.

Thus in 1968, she became a pioneer for women in the dry cleaning business. Doris was the first woman President of the International Dry Cleaners Congress. She served on the California Department of Consumer Affairs State Licensing Board of Fabric Care. She has presented fabricare seminars not only in the United States but abroad as well. She has been a guest speaker on many radio and television programs.

Doris’ passion has been cleaning and renovation of heirloom pieces. She has worked with such fragile museum pieces as cave burial wraps made in the 8th century and pieces previously owned by Hollywood celebrities. To handle these garments, she puts on her gloves, gets out cotton swabs, tiny brushes and an eye dropper solution to cleanse the stains. Doris has restored Belgian lace and linens belonging to Mrs. Herbert Hoover and a gown belonging to Princess Diana. She has also cleaned mud and grass stains off the uniform shirt of Willie Mays and Dan Marino!

Doris most relishes the sentimental items, such as christening or wedding dresses. “It’s people’s treasures,” Doris said, “These are the things that keep me going.” By word of mouth, Doris has always had more business than she could handle. She credits her success with having patience and being up front with her clients.

Doris turned 92 on May 21, 2014. That is why she has decided to retire on that date.

Please read the letter that she wanted to share with you.

Doris will be walking the floor at the Fabricare Show , Long Beach, California in August. If you see her, stop and say hello. Thank her for all she has contributed to our industry. Doris, we love you and you will always be part of us. Looking forward to seeing you in August.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

From 1945 until 1968, I never attended any conventions or seminars. In 1968, when I took over the business, I realized I had everything to learn. I attended every workshop, seminar and convention put on by the California Cleaners Association (CCA) and Dry Cleaning and Laundry Institute (DLI). This allowed me to gain as much knowledge as possible in the areas of stain removal, cleaning, finishing, equipment usage and most importantly customer service.

I rarely missed a meeting and I am very grateful for everything I learned. In a man’s world, I was taken in and treated with such respect. The speakers and those in the industry who shared their experience and knowledge made it possible for me to be successful in dry cleaners. Sadly many people in the dry cleaning business do not take advantage of theses incredible opportunities to attend meetings.

Even though I am retired, I still look forward to attending future conventions and keeping in touch with the many wonderful friends I have made over the years. Such friendships have provided me with an unimaginable amount of support and encouragement that helped in guiding me along my journey.

Warmest regards,


About Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith has been in the dry-cleaning industry for over 40 years. Her experience spans from owning a drycleaning business to working for Henderson Insurance Agency who specializes in the fabricare industry. She currently serves on the CCA Board as well as the board for So Cal Cleaners Association. She can be reached at

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