Brenda Clark directs her life decisions more by “guts than brains,” she said.
Take for instance, her decision to move to Humboldt 14 years ago.
“I just picked a spot on a map,” she said. At the time, she was a single mother in Kansas City and was looking for a more kid-friendly environment to raise her son, Andrew.
Brenda used much the same method to starting her career. Though trained as a paralegal, Brenda could find no such job in the area. Undeterred, she went to area businesses to see if they were in need of a cleaning service.
“There were very few people doing the job (cleaning) right, or not at all,” she said of her inspections.
Thus was the beginning of Sparkles Cleaning, which now has added painting to its repertoire.
Brenda routinely cleans seven offices and one church. She also has two other employees that help out from time to time.
The work is hard. It’s not unusual for Brenda to spend 60 to 80 hours a week cleaning.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” Brenda said. “I don’t drink, smoke, do drugs, chase men or gamble. I’ve got to have something to do.”
And cleaning is something that Brenda does very well. She said many people do not have the attention to detail that is required for thorough cleaning, and there are many things people don’t know to do.
“I disinfect the phones and keyboards, which is important, especially in winter,” she said.
She said little things make the difference, like dusting the vents on computer towers. Brenda pointed out that she does not clean private residences, because her phone “would be ringing off the hook.”
In addition to cleaning, Brenda spends a big chunk of her time painting as well. She started painting professionally four years ago, but has been painting since she was a child.
“If it doesn’t move, then I paint it,” she said.
There is an art to painting buildings for a living, which comes very naturally to Brenda.
“People are amazed that I don’t use tape when I am painting,” she said.
She has a knack for keeping a steady hand around tight edges — a talent that comes very naturally to her. There are dangers to her job as well. She said she often times has to set up scaffolding by herself for multi-story jobs. She is not afraid of heights, but recognizes that dangers of setting up and working on higher platforms.
“The heights don’t scare me, it is the fall and the sudden stop that worries me,” she said with a laugh. “I have very good insurance.”
BRENDA’S SUCCESS as a local business owner has come at the risk of not “playing it safe” when it comes to big life decisions.
She said it is important for her to go with her guts, and take chances.
“So many people are content to exist, and not try anything new,” Brenda said.
Her philosophy for living has brought her to a life that she enjoys more than she ever could as a paralegal.
“I’m more happy painting and cleaning that I ever was behind a desk,” she said.
Whenever she has free time, Brenda, an animal-lover, creates “cat trees” that she sells to raise funds for Castaways (an animal shelter in Chanute), and ACARF in Iola. She also builds steps and ramps for aging animals that need help getting to their beds. One of her cat trees is currently being used in the ACARF cat room, and she has sold several of her creations for donation to the shelters.
Brenda’s son, Andrew, is currently living in Lawrence, working for the Douglas County Sheriff’s department. She said he received his masters degree in public administration at the age of 22.
“I’m really proud of him,” she said.
Brenda, now 46 years old, has no plan of slowing down any time soon. Her parents live in the country outside of Fredonia, where they raise cattle. Brenda herself has a “one-heifer herd” and plans to learn more about raising cattle in the future — another possible business venture. For Brenda, it seems going with her “guts instead of brains” philosophy has paid off.