Updated: Jun 6
Mykal Tairu presenting to entrepreneurs at One Million Cups in Daytona Beach, FL
Mykal Rasheed Tairu, a youth born and raised in Prince George's County, MD, had his whole life in front of him, but would struggle to find his path that would ultimately lead to a life of fulfillment.
Sandwiched in between two brothers, David and Steven, and not to mention a cousin from Philly his mother, Ardell Johns, took into her home to assist in raising, Mykal found it hard to find his own niche that he could excel in, to call his own. His stepfather, Darren Proctor, a firm fixture in the household, would offer some advice on things Mykal could try. Mykal glanced at loved ones and friends that surrounded him and noticed they all seemed to find their one thing that they were good at but failed to identify his own. He attempted to dabble in sports, because his brothers were proficient at them, but realized he kept the bench warm for “others” to succeed.
Mykal with younger brother, Steven (left) and older brother, David (right)
Mykal grades even began to suffer. The academic pursuit didn’t seem to be his calling, confirmed by the results he was getting from all his classes, even physical education. His
mother and older brother would put forth much effort to encourage Mykal and keep him on the positive trajectory. Mykal would need addition reinforcement. He would find just such a thing in his high school years. He would discover his ability to play in the band and meet a band director that would prove to be profitable towards his growth.
Not putting his full enthusiasm behind playing in the band, Mykal would soon discover that despite his poor academic performance in the classroom, band could provide a way for him to attend college - and for free. He escaped high school on a positive note of raising his grades just enough to be college eligible, and to his credit, had two offers of admission via scholarship to attend Bethune Cookman Univesity and Johnson C Smith University. He chose the former because of the “better band” and to put distance between himself and home. For you see, Mykal’s senior year of high school was an enduring one. Many of his classmates and peers were dying from senseless violence. He sought a change of scenery.
Attending BCU was just what the doctor ordered. There, Mykal’s fondness and interest in playing in the band blossomed. The travel, work ethic, and exposure allowed him to gain depth in who he was as a person.
While also at BCU, his faith was established and cultivated. He became a regular fixture at Daytona Christian Center (DCC), a budding ministry that catered to many of the students on the BCU campus, and one that he still attends to this day.
Mykal not only benefitted from a maturing faith walk and a feeling of community while at Daytona Christian Center, he met and fell in love with a fellow student at BCU by the name of Shanicka Reddick, who also attended DCC. The two’s love for each other grew, even pass their graduation in 2012. Mykal would leave and pursue his master’s in divinity from Yale University immediately after receiving his undergraduate degree.
After a two-year long-distance relationship, Shanicka and Mykal commited themselves to each and got married in 2014. This, along with his family at DCC, gave him all the reason to plant himself in Daytona Beach. He felt an endearment and a calling to the area.
Mykal set out to make an impact in his new community. He became a community organizer and focused his efforts on individuals who were formerly incarcerated and attempting to assimilate back into society. One contributing factor that these individuals kept running into in trying to obtain employment is the first part of the application process that requires each applicant to identify if they have been convicted of any crimes. This revelation led to instant denials. Mykal lead a statewide campaign, Ban The Box, to eliminate this hurdle.
Mykal addressing the Ban the Box Initiative before City Council.
He’s efforts were successful as many cities and counties across the state of Florida officially banned the use of this practice.
The tug to become an entrepreneur to aide in becoming an answer for those formerly incarcerated individuals stirred Mykal in a new direction. His stepfather's words of wisdom began to play back to him. Mykal’s experiences with his friends when he was younger introducing themselves to neighbors as young entrepreneurs who would shovel snow or cut grass for them flooded his memory. He realized that entrepreneurship was always within him. He just needed to take the plunge.
Mykal did just that. He first started an apparel printing company in 2015. It was to be a home-based business.
But it turns out that he would be a multipreneur (owning multiple companies) and in 2016 opened up a laundry service, Midtown Laundry Service. Midtown started as a chance for passive income, suited for individuals to walk in to do their own laundry without need for supervision. He would learn a key lesson in pivoting in business. In order to achieve his goal of job creation for individuals in the community, he would have to shift the direction of Midtown into a pick up and drop off laundry service that could cater to the commercial and residential markets.
One of Midtown Laundry Service pick up and delivery vehicles.
Growing up, Mykal never knew the actual story of why his biological father wasn’t in his life. The reasoning why is what helped propel and fuel Mykal’s passion for the formerly incarcerated. For the majority of Mykal’s life, he was under the assumption that his father, who is Nigerian, was separated from his mother and lived in Nigeria. Upon graduating from high school, Mykal was informed that his biological father was incarcerated the entire time here in America. Mykal met him for the first time after graduation and embarked upon a journey to build a relationship with him. His father was released soon after, and the two would write and communicate often throughout Mykal’s tenure in college, but unfortunately, his father returned to prison before Mykal obtained of his master’s from Yale in 2014.
From that moment on, Mykal knew that there were issues that contributed to his father’s reentering the prison system. One such issue is the struggle to find employment after one’s debt to society had been paid.
So, Mykal is using Midtown Laundry Service as an economic vehicle to help those reentering society to possess a deterrent to going back to prison. Essentially, providing a second chance.
Mykal continues to learn valuable lessons as an entrepreneur. His main lesson is identifying when and how to “pivot”. “The ability to alter the direction of your business when things are progressing opposite of your initial intentions” is his meaning of pivot. Mykal also states that he has had to learn to how to gain insight from his losses in business. And he cannot reiterate enough that all entrepreneurs need to prioritize the organization and state of affairs for their businesses. “Keep correct bookkeeping. Inspect any building before signing a lease. Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs that are able to better you,” he adds.
As Mykal speaks to other entrepreneurs, he stresses to them the need to be educated about the industry they are involved in. Helpful resources like Facebook groups, mentors, and other key industry leaders are invaluable to all entrepreneurs alike. He attributes his success to education and keeping himself in a position to learn.
Midtown Laundry Services provide pick up and delivery laundry service to commercial and residential customers. Small motel and hotel, cleaning services for vacation rentals and Airbnb, daycares, small restaurants, and any person who does not like doing laundry are his targeted customer. His current commercial accounts include Bethune Cookman University football and softball teams and Vacasa Homes.
Mykal is a great example of an entrepreneur that's continuing to learn his place in his respective industry, and increase his standing in it through a commitment to excel and grow.
He treasures his time as a husband to Shanicka Tairu, and as a father of three girls. To support Mykal and his efforts to help the rebuilding of lives often not valued or overlooked, you can contact Midtown Laundry Service for laundry services at 386.222.3141. Midtown's website is www.midtownlaundryfl.com.