Years ago, Drew Goodall was down on his luck. And homeless. A chance meeting with a stranger, however, would change his life and of many others.
After life on the streets, he would become the boss of his own company, giving him the opportunity to extend assistance to people needing a helping hand.
More than 20 years ago, Goodall was an aspiring actor in London, working alongside stars such as Brad Pitt and Hugh Grant. Poor theater reviews, however, destroyed his confidence.
The acting offers dried up, and Goodall ran out of money. “I didn’t want to face my parents. When I left home I was the big hope. I couldn’t face the ignominy of having to go back with my tail between my legs,” he said.
Soon he was evicted from his house, and ended up living on the rough streets of London. Home became a cardboard box, and he had to resort to begging to survive.
He had been unwilling to ask for help, and Goodall said that his feeling of failure was a common trait among the homeless.
Despite his misfortune, Goodall exerted all efforts to make sure that he earned an honest living. Among his many jobs was polishing and shining people’s shoes.
With some money left over from begging, he purchased the tools of the trade – a brush and a tin of polish – and peddled his trade in London’s financial district.
Goodall kept an eye out for authorities – he was liable to get caught since he didn’t have a license to trade on the street. After six months, however, he was lucky enough to get a break – one of his regular shoeshine customers made him an offer that would set him on the road to a successful business.
Given the chance to set up shop on the lobby of the customer’s office, Goodall was eventually making a more stable income. This got him off the streets, and gave him the break to be the boss of his own small company.
As he moved his services into more banks and financial institutions, Goodall’s small enterprise grew into his own shoeshine business he called Sunshine Shoeshine.
As the boss, Goodall focused on hiring homeless people, including those with special needs, to get them back on their feet and into the workplace.
He stressed, “There is no magic button for homelessness. It’s something that will always be there … (but) just giving someone some time, talking to them, that goes a long way to finding a solution to homelessness.”
With business going well, Sunshine Shoeshine expanded and set up locations in various offices across London. After living a difficult life on the streets, Goodall is now the boss of a successful company earning around £250,000 ($330,000) a year in profit.
Sunshine Shoeshine employs around eight people, mostly former homeless people like Goodall, as shoe shiners who work in more than 50 businesses a week.
He shared, “It came organically. I didn’t set up to, in my own way, try to change the world.” Goodall estimates that since 2012, he has helped 40 people turn their lives around.
He also offers companies where they do business to choose a charity, which receives 5% of Sunshine Shoeshine’s profits. “We have given in excess of 20,000 pounds ($26,000),” said Goodall.
Goodall stated that it was not enough that he was a good boss. He was fortunate to work with clients who were willing to help others by purchasing a shoeshine service.
This boosted his workers’ confidence and the company income, which he puts to good use by providing employment and support to people who just need a little push in the right direction.
“Often it’s transformative. It gives people a sense of purpose, something to get up for in the morning,” Goodall said.
He is always keen to remember where he came from, and that he, too, needed help to get to where he is today.
Goodall continues to be a caring boss to people that society, in general, may have forgotten or decided to ignore.
He maintains a commitment to people who need a lift up to get off the streets, particularly those with mental and physical abilities, giving them the chance to be help themselves and be independent.
This is what Sunshine Shoeshine is all about – the ability to help others be their own boss and control their own lives, and inspire others to give opportunities to the less fortunate.
Learn more about this awesome boss, see video below: