He’s so easygoing, effortlessly polite and unassuming in conversation that he earned the nickname “Smoove,” but Jermaine Stewart has more than charm to recommend him. He’s a man who appreciates a job well done and a sparkling vehicle. “I think it was because I was raised by women,” he said. “They were always cleaning, and our home was spotless.”
Naturally, the family passion for cleanliness extended to Stewart’s ride, and people who spotted his vehicle didn’t fail to notice. Stewart, now 34, was working for the Walmart distribution center when a passerby asked him who detailed his car. When she found out he had done his own work, she hired him on the spot.
“I thought, ‘why not?’ Stewart said. From that initial job less than two years ago, his business, Smoove’s Auto Detailing, has grown to a successful one-man operation, sometimes servicing four vehicles a day, always with the same perfect results that struck his first customer.
Other unanticipated encounters also played a part. Stewart continued working full time, but shared his entrepreneurial vision with Doug Bayliss, a regular Saturday basketball buddy at the U.Va. Aquatic Center. “I knew I could offer more if I had a mobile unit,” Stewart said. He realized that people were so busy that they were often unable to drive to a location and drop off their car for a day, or may not have a place for a vacuum and hose at their own townhouse or apartment. Dr. Bayliss, a pharmacology professor at U.Va., agreed.
“I told Doug that I would eventually go to the bank for a loan,” Stewart said. “The next Saturday he offered to write me a check for everything I needed. His idea was that sometimes all that’s needed is a little push.” The check bought a Honda mobile unit with a motor, a little generator, a water tank, and a powerful vacuum.
The rest is provided by rags, wax, a special tire cleaner, and Stewart’s energy and eye for detail. “I love my work,” he said, although he admits that pet hair is sometimes a challenge. But he’s up to it: Stewart finds inspiration from a man whose music is as smooth as he is, fusion artist Gary Clark Jr. “I put on my headphones and it just takes me away,” he said.
He’s okay with tackling the dirtiest job––“I love a challenge,” he said––and has found a number of items that people thought had been lost forever, including driver’s licenses, credit cards and reading glasses.
Stewart was able to reduce his “day job” to part time and he now works for Target three days a week. Consistently rave reviews on his website and Facebook page, as well as referrals from customers to their friends, have grown his business beyond his wildest expectations.
What’s next for the young entrepreneur? “I’ll expand when it seems right,” he said. “To make this my only job, I’ll need to have another unit and an employee.” Meanwhile, it’s easy to reach Smoove’s Mobile Detailing on Facebook, and he’ll be glad to show up at your house and tackle the worst muddy tires, pet hair, dust and grime you’ve accumulated in your car, truck or SUV.