‘She Pivots’ With Laura Spaulding: Turning Crime Scene Clean Up Into a Multi-Million Dollar Franchise

"I was like, we don't clean that up. And she's like, ‘Well, then who does?’”

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(Image credit: Future)

In partnership with Marie Claire, 'She Pivots' challenges the typical definitions of success and explores the role our personal stories play in our professional journeys.

As soon as Laura Spaulding turned 18, she left home and never looked back. At the time she believed her military service would be her ticket out of poverty. But in 1994 she was dishonorably discharged as a result of the newly passed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Until it was repealed in 2011, the discriminatory law prohibited homosexuals and bisexuals from serving in the armed forces.

“They stamped my paperwork ‘homosexual’ when I was 19 years old,” says Spaulding. “Little did I realize that that would kind of be the tattoo that I would carry for my life.”

Despite graduating from the University of Tennessee with a degree in criminal justice, the stamp on her discharge paperwork made it impossible to find a job. “The scarlet letter followed me around,” Spaulding says.

Her military-appointed lawyer advised her to withhold the fact that she was ever in the military in order to boost her chances of employment. “And he was right,” she says. “So I started checking no on all the boxes, and all of a sudden, I got hired.” 

She moved to Kansas City and joined the police force, working undercover in narcotics. Although she was achieving her career goals, Spaulding was unable to make ends meet. “It came to a point where I was making $38,000 a year, like I was barely surviving.”

After earning her MBA, she was eager to start her own business when an encounter with a victim's mother unveiled a surprising gap in the market. “[The mother] came up to me and said, ‘Hey, when are you guys coming back to clean this up?’ And I was like, we don't clean that up. And she's like, ‘Well, then who does?’” 

The aha moment inspired her to invest $2,500 in savings to learn the basics of biohazard cleaning, apply for a bank loan, and start Spaulding Decon. She has grown the company to a multi-million dollar franchise with locations across the country, according to Spaulding.

Recently, the company has found success on social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok, garnering millions of views and more than 1.5 million followers. The move towards social media certainly raises ethical concerns, as they show gruesome crime scenes that are potentially triggering for some. But Spaulding says it is all a part of a larger marketing strategy to expand and help more families and victims.

Tune in below to hear about how Spaulding funded her business with no credit and how she has grown her family in her late forties.

Emily Tisch Sussman
Contributing Editor

Emily Tisch Sussman is the Founder and Host of “She Pivots,” the podcast in partnership with Marie Claire about women, their stories, and how their pivot became their success. She is a contributing editor to Maire Claire and the guest host of the Marie Claire Instagram Live series “Getting Down to Business.”