For a business to flourish in San Pedro, where the
competition is tight because of the small population, one needs to be
independent and versatile. Nellie Gomez, of Nellie's Laundromat is one
individual though, whose resourcefulness has made her one of the top
businesswomen in her field.
Nellie Gomez was the first of three children, born to
parents Ernesto and Tomasita Gomez on August
19th, 1951. Born on
the island, she enjoyed the simple life of her younger years on Ambergris
Nellie started her education at the age of five, and
attended the San Pedro Roman Catholic School. Nellie completed primary
school at age 14, but because there was no secondary school on the
island, she was forced to move away from her family in order to complete
her education. She attended St. John's Extension (high school) in Belize
City, where she overcame her shyness and became more independent living
in two different boarding houses.
After four years in Belize City, Nellie decided that
city life was not for her. She returned home to her parents in beautiful
San Pedro, explaining, "After all, this is paradise, there is no
comparison." With her newfound independence she obtained her first job at
Martha's Store, where she stayed for one year, before moving on to become
a receptionist at the Coral Beach Hotel. Nellie remained there for seven
years before accepting a more responsible position at Paradise Hotel
where she was employed as the hotel office manager. She stunned the hotel
bosses with her friendly personality, ability to multi-task and her knack
for making things run smoothly. Two years later, Nellie was promoted to
general manager of the hotel.
A short time later, because of health problems, Nellie
had to leave Paradise Hotel, but decided not to let this unfortunate
circumstance squelch her spirit, and with the confidence gained from the
last two promotions, took her first leap into business independence. In
the early 90s, she opened a gift shop on Barrier Reef Drive, called
Shop 1001. One year after Shop 1001 opened, Nellie started her second
business - Nellie's Laundromat. This enterprise has provided the
community with same-day laundry service for the last 11 years. But
Paradise Hotel had not forgotten Nellie, for while she was operating her
gift shop she was hired as manager for the Paradise Villas Homeowner's
Association (P.V.H.O.A.). In 1998, Nellie decided that she could handle
even more challenges and established Nellie's Property management. One
year after starting this new business, she sold the gift shop, so as to
focus her attention on her other growing enterprises.
Nellie currently manages three jobs at the same time,
continuously testing her organizational skills. She has managed the
P.V.H.O.A. for the last 13 years, owned the Laundromat at the same time,
and also operated Nellie's Property Management for five years. You may
ask yourself how one woman can keep all of these businesses straight.
Nellie employs the services of her sister-in-law, Millie Gomez, who is in
charge of managing and accounting at Nellie's Laundromat. She says that
"Millie provides all the support that any businesswoman could want." All
in all, Nellie presently employs a total of 16 people in her businesses,
but she is always ready to expand.
While Nellie ensures that all her businesses operate
effectively, she sometimes works from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Nellie gets
out to relax "once in a little while," dancing up a storm or simply
enjoying time with her friends. She prefers to take only "short trips"
away from the island she has called her home for over 50 years.
Nellie's message to fellow residents and visitors to
her home is, "Be proud of what the island offers. Keep the island
beautiful, and show respect to everything and everyone". Nellie Gomez has
fulfilled her end of the bargain by maintaining all kinds of island
property in "Our Community".