Connecting communities with Nic Marchesi

Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett were only 20 years old when they began Orange Sky to help give dignity back to homeless Queenslanders.

In 2014, Nic and Lucas came up with an idea to load up a van full of washers and dryers and travel around Brisbane to offer laundry services to the city’s homeless – calling it Orange Sky. They quickly found that Orange Sky was less about washing clothes and more about connecting with forgotten communities.

“Our mission was to improve the hygiene standards for the homeless but what we realised after the first load of washing is that Orange Sky had very little to do with washing and drying clothes and had everything to do with the time it took washing to be on,” Nic said. 

“Orange Sky’s mission is to connect with communities and how we do that every day is through really simple things like providing more laundry shift services and providing shower services, but most importantly sitting down on orange chairs and having awesome conversations.”

The two had little experience building vans and Nic even admits that Lucas didn’t even know how to do his own washing at the time, but the pair made the project work despite many broken machines and a sceptical washing machine company.

“We broke numerous pairs of washing machines by not converting power correctly or not clamping washing machine and dryers to the back of vans, going over bumps and around street corners and ripping things out inside,” Nic said.

In spite of these challenges, Orange Sky has grown over the past five years and are now offering shower services and expanding their reach to regional Queensland - something that Nic said has brought its own set of hurdles like water heating and sustainability.

“Now some of our biggest challenges are how we continually engage and grow our service to make it more sustainable,” he said.

“There are lots of moving parts but what we’ve been blown away with is lots of people wanting to support us along that journey.”

Listen to more from Nic below.

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