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Women’s Month: Sandra Gladden-Myvett

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 16, 2023

Although every business person faces difficulties at one time or the other, the challenges women face as entrepreneurs seem to be quite different from what men tend to face. For example, the struggle of not being taken seriously, balancing business and family life, and defying social expectations, are some things foreign to the men who are more likely expected to succeed.

When we think of successful, hardworking women, the majority of the time we would normally tend to think of big names such as Oprah, or even Rihanna.

But we don’t have to go that far to recognize the hardworking businesswomen who are right among us. One of such women resides in the Lake Independence area of Belize City.

This week, Amandala met up with Mrs. Sandra Gladden-Myvett, an entrepreneur and also our Woman of the Week. Mrs. Gladden (as she is most known), who is 56-years-old, was born in Belize City to now-deceased parents, Joyce McCaulay and Rudolf Gladden.

She, along with her 5 siblings, lived on Ziricote Street and attended Buttonwood Bay Nazarene primary school.

At the age of 18, Gladden recalls her awakening to the business world. Since both her parents were no longer with her, she had no other option but to go out and work to sustain herself.

Mrs. Gladden, who was very close with her older sister, Marlin Belisle, looked up to her for support in her new venture. She credits Belisle for pushing her to expand the cushion business and begin selling pillows instead, since, at that time, her business was only in selling seat cushions, and she was now a single mother to 5 children.

At first, Gladden said she was very hesitant, but her sister was persistent in convincing her to take this new route. And convince her she did, as Gladden has now been selling her pillows for 38 years, and counting.

But as thriving as her business may now be, things weren’t always easy.

Before all the accessible materials and expansion of the pillow market, Gladden was the first in selling pillows; sewing, cutting, and constructing them all by hand. And she did this for 9 years, spending the whole day cutting out sponges with scissors and manually sewing each pillow, causing multiple blisters on her arms and fingers.

Eventually, she discovered the Belize Foam Factory, where the threaded bags of sponge were being sold for only $6.00. Gladden was warmly welcomed by the company, which recognized her work, building a long-lasting relationship, and one of her hardest tasks was thus alleviated.

Gladden’s hardship, however, would also be increased by the inability of having her own business area. The first place where she would set up her operation was at Downtown Plaza, Belize City.

She recounts being the first one in that area to be selling pillows. However, it wasn’t until new competitors arrived that she decided to move. Unfortunately, her second location, in front of Hofius Hardware, was short-lived, as she was told by officials that she couldn’t sell there.

Gladden now rides around with her bike and cart (bicycle cart) selling her products, but this has not diminished her spirit; and despite the criticism she sometimes receives from individuals around her, she just keeps on moving, just as her sister taught her.

When asked about words of advice for future female entrepreneurs, she encourages them to keep their heads up.

“People will always put you down; but don’t listen to anyone, just keep your head up. Just keep on moving; don’t look back,” she warmly adds.

Miss Sandra Gladden’s pillows come in a pack of two and are being sold for $25.00. You can contact her at 600-4486, or catch her riding around the city.