Debra Sandler is the founder and CEO of Mavis Foods, a family business she established out of a desire to help others. According to Forbes, Sandler and her daughter Kiah established a family heritage through a family recipe, Bazodee Caribbean sauces. Sandler said she created the company because she wanted to build generational wealth for her family.
After asking her aunt Mavis to teach her how to cook and make some of the family sauces, she came up with the idea for her business. Sandler told Forbes, “My responsibility as a single mother is to ensure that I am establishing generational wealth.”
“It’s not always present in black households,” she explained. “I was a decent earner,” she says, “but as you get older, you start thinking about, ‘How can I set this thing up so that what I’ve earned benefits my great, great-grandchildren in some way long after I’m gone?”
Sandler began her career as a vice president in marketing at Pepsi Co. She was hired by Johnson and Johnson after 13 years at the beverage industry to launch Splenda, which resulted in the creation of a new division within the corporation devoted to nutrition.
According to Forbes, she rose through the ranks at the internal company from vice president to president, and it was here that she developed a passion for business concepts. Sandler left Johnson and Johnson after a decade and went on to run Mars, a North American chocolate company. Later on, she was promoted to her first board governance role.
She told Forbes, “That was always in my goal that I would do that.” “I’m a planner, and I’ve worked my way up from my first board job in 2015 to currently serving on four corporate boards and one private board.” Everyone warns you it’ll take a while when you first start working on a board, so don’t be discouraged. I got my first board seat a little earlier than expected, but it took another year before I got my second board, and then another two years between the second and third boards.”
Sandler had gone from overseing a $4 billion company with ten factories and thousands of employees to board work, and she was ready. “I needed some of that capacity because I needed to spend time with my old mother.” However, I still had capacity. “And that’s when the concept for Bazodee and Mavis Foods was born,” she continued.
She stated that spending more time with her family opened her eyes to the potential of the sauces she had grown up with. Mavis, Sandler’s aunt, had produced the sauces and sold them to her friends and neighbors. She would subsequently demonstrate how to make the sauces to Sandler. According to Forbes, Sandler got the idea for her business after learning about the subtleties of the spices used in the recipe.
Sandler maintains that establishing her own company allows her to stay current in the consumer-packaged goods industry. Simultaneously, she is creating a legacy for her daughter to carry on the tradition.