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Raquel Hughes

Raquel Hughes: Empowering Lives and Sparkling Success

Prioritizing Success in Demanding Times!

In today’s dynamic environment, life often presents unforeseen challenges. Achieving a harmonious work-life balance is paramount, especially in these demanding times. Cultivating the ability to effectively prioritize tasks and responsibilities has emerged as an essential skill for all professionals. Consequently, Raquel Hughes dedicates time to imparting valuable knowledge to her team, nurturing growth and success for all.

‘Love your life and rock your business with unwavering confidence’ are her words. Her own journey is filled with challenges, making us interview her to learn how she juggles through all these obstacles and still succeeds.

Below are the highlights of the interview:

Can you please introduce yourself and provide a brief overview of your professional background?

My name is Raquel Hughes, and I am the proud owner of several enterprises, including Sparkle & Sheen Organize and Cleaning Services Ltd., Maid to Help, Maid for Eco-Friendly Products, and Maid to Learn.

My professional journey began in 1992, when I completed my college education with a degree in business. Interestingly, I graduated just five days before welcoming my second child into the world. During this time, I stumbled into the world of logistics and found that I had a natural affinity for it, thanks in part to my experiences with ADHD and OCD.

Navigating the challenges of dispatching felt like solving a puzzle, and I genuinely enjoyed my career. If you had asked me a decade ago where I saw myself in the future, I would have confidently said I envisioned myself deeply involved in logistics.

However, life often takes unexpected turns, and I embarked on a path I never could have foreseen. This year has proven to be pivotal in the growth of my business empire. At Sparkle & Sheen, we are not merely redefining the cleaning industry; we are also making a significant impact within our market. What sets us apart is our distinctive approach and commitment to our clients and community.

People choose Sparkle & Sheen not only for our exceptional cleaning services but also for the comprehensive support we offer in all aspects of their lives. We listen to their needs and strive to make their lives as effortless as possible.

Our mission goes beyond being just a cleaning company. While many businesses in our industry focus solely on cleaning services, we go above and beyond to provide a wide array of solutions. My ventures are not just about cleaning; they are about transforming lives, fostering sustainability, and lifting up others in our industry and community.

Could you share some key milestones in your leadership journey and how they have shaped your approach to leadership?

Leadership is an evolving journey, a path marked by significant moments and transformative experiences that shape one’s approach, values, and style. As I reflect on some key milestones in my leadership journey, I see how impactful my journey was and how each moment contributed to the leader I am today.

My leadership journey began with the profound influence of my family. Growing up, I witnessed my parents’ tumultuous relationship. This impacted me due to their lack of support for one another. My parents taught me who I would never want to be as an adult. This drove me to find a support network with my church. These early experiences instilled in me the values of integrity and the importance of caring for others.

My church taught me that leadership is not just about authority but also about responsibility and empathy. Sister Bissau showed me respect and made me feel important and heard—something neither of my parents was able to do.

Entering the professional world brought new challenges. Early in my career, I faced setbacks that ultimately led to failure. While failing is a tough pill to swallow, this experience taught me the importance of resilience and adaptability. I learned that true leadership involves taking risks, learning from failures, and persevering in the face of adversity.

One of the most transformative milestones in my leadership journey is the opportunity to lead a diverse team. Managing individuals from different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives challenges my preconceived notions and encourages me to embrace diversity and inclusion as essential components of effective leadership. I learned that fostering an inclusive environment leads to innovation, creativity, and stronger bonds within the team.

How would you describe your leadership style, and what principles or values guide your leadership decisions?

Describing my leadership style, I would say it aligns with the principles and values that guide my leadership decisions. I am an empath. Empathy is characterized by a set of values and principles that guide individuals who practice it.

At its core, empathy is rooted in my fundamental belief in the worth and dignity of every human being. I value the importance of understanding and sharing the emotional experiences of others, striving to cultivate deep connections and foster compassion.

The principles of empathy revolve around active listening, open-mindedness, and non-judgment. I prioritize kindness, tolerance, and the capacity to offer support without expecting anything in return. These actions are driven by a genuine desire to alleviate suffering, promote understanding, and create a more empathetic and harmonious world. I enjoy celebrating our teams’ wins and sitting in the mud with them during a horrible failure.

What do you believe has been the most impactful contribution or initiative as a leader?

I full-heartedly believe the establishment of our comprehensive mentorship program within the organization not only provided invaluable guidance and support to employees at all levels but also fostered a culture of continuous learning and professional development. By pairing experienced team members with those eager to learn and grow, we were able to facilitate knowledge-sharing and skill development across our organization. As a result, our company witnessed increased employee satisfaction, reduced turnover rates, and a significant uptick in productivity.

Moreover, the mentorship program instilled a sense of camaraderie and collaboration that permeated throughout the workplace, creating a positive and cohesive work environment where individuals felt motivated to excel. This initiative not only elevated the organization’s performance but also left a lasting legacy of mentorship and personal growth that continues to benefit both current and future generations of employees.

In male-dominated industries, how have you navigated challenges, and what advice would you give to aspiring women leaders in similar fields?

I absolutely love this question! Navigating challenges in male-dominated industries often involves resilience and a determination to break through barriers. As a logistics coordinator before starting Sparkle & Sheen, I often faced pay disparities and endured instances of gender discrimination. A pivotal moment for me was when my former boss publicly belittled me in front of my colleagues. I confided in my husband about my desire to quit my career and clean houses instead.

His response was, “Honey, you will never make six figures cleaning houses.” My response was, “Challenge accepted!” and his words inspired me to prove him wrong. In year one, I generated $138,000 as a solo entrepreneur, although it was an incredibly tough journey. My determination paid off, and I hit my first million within just 32 months of starting my own cleaning business, even doubling in size during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interestingly, I’d like to thank my old boss because his treatment pushed me to re-evaluate my career. To aspiring women leaders in similar fields, my advice is straightforward: know your worth and never settle for less. The world is evolving, and career opportunities aren’t bound by traditional gender roles. Embrace the journey and transform your challenges into opportunities! Love your life, and rock your business with confidence.

What are your aspirations and vision for the future, both for yourself and the industry you are a part of?

Looking ahead, my vision encompasses the expansion of my charity, Maid to Help, to operate nationwide. The core mission of Maid to Help is anchored in compassion and responsibility, with a commitment to enhancing the lives of individuals facing challenges such as mental health disabilities, cancer, terminal illnesses, physical disabilities, and low-income seniors, particularly within the Edmonton area.

By not only relieving the burden of cleaning but also delivering essential support and education and engaging in poverty alleviation efforts, we aim to foster a cleaner, more organized, and empathetic community where every individual can thrive, knowing they are supported. Our dedication is to restore dignity, nurture resilience, and nurture a sense of belonging, ensuring that no one confronts adversity in isolation while infusing homes and hearts with a spark of hope.

My ultimate goal is to forge partnerships with cleaning companies nationwide, encouraging them to provide free cleaning services to individuals within their own communities, amplifying the impact of our collective efforts. In pursuit of these objectives, I have initiated the Maid in Canada group, comprising cleaning business entrepreneurs. Within this community, I offer coaching and guidance, sharing the knowledge and experiences gained from building my own business empire. This initiative empowers others to attain their goals and contribute to the growth of our industry.

Additionally, we’ve launched the Maid to Talk podcast, a platform through which we explore and discuss critical topics. Currently, we are diligently crafting a 10-part segment focused on the homelessness sector in Edmonton, aiming to shed light on these important issues and inspire positive change. My aspirations and vision are deeply rooted in empathy, community support, and empowerment. Through these endeavors, I aspire to create a lasting and meaningful impact dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others.

Our company was voted Edmonton’s Choice for 2023 and nominated in Sherwood Park and St. Albert.