A Brief History of Marvellous Maids

It is over 25 years since Kate and Ian Shuttleworth started Marvellous Maids. It was a hit and miss affair and our clients were the guinea pigs, but without lyrics or a melody, we busked it. We blew our own trumpet, beat our own drum and sang our own praises. We were the best at the time. Speedy Domestics, Char Girl Agencies, Maid in Africa and Dynamic Domestics came and went. Others too have come and gone, thinking that this is an easy game. Why did Marvellous Maids endure?

This is not a dramatic tale of success, but a consistent record of hard work. Slowly we learnt, as we went along. We paid our school fees, our college fees and earned our PHD (Perfectly Handled Domestics). With Kate’s history of working and living in the townships and Ian speaking fluent Xhosa, they were more suited than most to understanding and working with the people that make up the majority of the domestic work force in this country. A professional agency for the recruitment of domestic workers was hitherto an unknown entity. The dynamics were totally different to those of the mainstream recruitment agencies, requiring a far more hands on approach and different practical applications. We shaped and trimmed, we cut and pasted. We danced to the tune of the New South Africa, one step forward, two steps back.

The family joined Marvellous Maids and it grew and grew… but then we ran out of family and the demand was insistent. To take a long story and cut it short… we diversified and opened a few select franchised areas in the Western Cape as well as Gauteng .

A million thanks to our persistently patient clients, most of whom have been unfailingly pleasant and have loyally recommended us without reservation despite our failings. We have admitted to our mistakes and learned from them. We have come to understand that the domestic worker sector is a complex component of South African society and that social, political, economic and cultural factors need to be taken into account. We need to be detectives, psychologists, social anthropologists, diplomats, politicians, lawyers and historians. The problems with which we have been faced over the last 15 years, now have solutions. If we don’t know the answer we know where to find it. And if we need to fix it, we know just what formula to apply. Our advice is sought and respected. We are not only the undisputed leaders in this industry, we created it.