As we celebrate Women’s History Month and continue to make progress towards becoming a more equitable society, one place that we can see measurable results is in entrepreneurship. 50 years ago, women owned just 4% of businesses, and today that number is 42%.
Sandy Barajas, owner of Sand Sandals in San Diego, is focused on making her community better, brighter, and a little more fashionable – which is one reason she was awarded a 2021 Small Business of the Year Award. We visited Sand Sandals and interviewed Sandy Barajas on YurView’s Main St. Living show. Watch the video above, or read the interview transcription below (lightly edited for clarity).
Danielle Alvari, Host of Main St. Living (00:11) – Welcome to Main St. Living as we celebrate Women’s History Month.
Quincy Carr, Host of Main St. Living (00:22) – Women-owned businesses have a huge, huge impact on the communities that they serve.
DA (00:39) – Which we love to see. Sandy Barajas is making her community better and brighter which is one reason she was awarded a 2021 Small Business of the Year award. Let’s take a look.
Sandy Barajas, Owner of Sand Sandals (01:04) – Sand Sandals is our local place to come. We carry a selection of dresses, hats, shoes. We initially started with shoes. And all of our items are made in Mexico. They’re made by some of the best Artisans in Mexico, and they’re all handmade. So we not only bring it to San Diego to share it with the community here, but we’re also providing jobs for our neighbors in Mexico.
(01:34) – So the story of San Sandals starts with me traveling into Mexico back in 2011. And I remember one of the first places that I visited as an adult was Jalisco. Jalisco was just beautiful. I mean, they have the most amazing artwork. And I remember going into these galleries and seeing these big frames of portraits with just the color and the shoes.
(02:01) – And I remember buying my first pair of shoes down in Jalisco. That was the initiation of Sand Sandals. We started with the table vending the shoes that I wore. And next thing I know I started to have people request other shoes and different styles. And we took off from that.
SB (02:19) – But I also wanted to bring something more enlightening and more modern into the community. And that’s where I began to get involved with some of my shoe designs. So some of my shoes that we carry here are actually designed by me. I chose the colors, the patterns, the soles of the shoes. A lot of our items actually come from Oaxaca and Chiapas, which is, to me, one of the best embroidery that you can find over there.
(02:53) – Everything was made by hand. It wasn’t a factory of machines making your items. It was actually women embroidering your stuff, making your shoes there. And to me, that was just fascinating. And that’s how I fell in love with it.
(03:11) – So I grew up in Barrio Logan, and unfortunately, I was not a very good role model growing up. You know, I happened to get into the wrong crowd. So coming back to Barrio Logan, years after on a positive note was very important to me because I wanted to portray that you can be this bad troubled teen, but you can also come back into this community and make an impact.
SB (03:39) – Today I just want to be able to be that positive voice in my community, for the young girls and for my family to see that there is always a tomorrow, that no matter what your past may be, no matter how ugly it was, you can always make it brighter. And we make it bright with our beautiful colors here at Sand Sandals.
QC (04:09) – It’s really cool to see Sandy, how she was able to turn her life around and do better for herself and her community.
DA (04:15) – Absolutely. And I love to shop small. So definitely something to check out. If you can’t make it into the San Sandals store in San Diego. You can shop there colorful collections on their website, www.SandSandals.net.