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Milwaukee entrepreneur wants to help small businesses collaborate for big success

Posted at 11:33 AM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-17 12:33:11-05

A former Brooks Brothers store in Bayshore is being transformed thanks to the ingenuity of Shontina Gladney, president of Entrepreneurs Society.

"It will be a collective marketplace of makers and founders, of individuals that have their own business and want to work together," explains Gladney.

The new business will be called The Collective Marketplace and Shared Workspace.

"Just to be able to have that type of energy here, and for people to know we can do it and we can to it together, to know that we are big business," says Gladney.

She is taking on this effort despite treatment for Stage two breast cancer.

"Every single day I know is a gift," she says. "When I choose not to get out of the bed, I know I am not unwrapping that gift."

Gladney has faced other challenges. In 2009 she and her husband were charged with wire fraud over missteps when they purchased a childcare business.

"You think you're going down the right path, you think you're making the right decisions, and low and behold you're in the midst of something you've never been in the midst of." Gladney says. She admits she learned from that low period.

"No matter what mistake may happen in your life, if you choose not to give up it's not a failure."

And Gladney has seen plenty of success. She's well known for being the brainchild behind the My City, My Biz Expo. It's billed as the largest emerging business expo in Wisconsin. In 2016 Gladney was invited to the Forbes Coaching Council. She has solid community support and trust and was able to raise funds for her new venture through GoFundMe.

"No matter what story is out there, people will know the truth about who you are and your business," Gladney says.

Gladney is the first licensed African American Auctioneer in the state of Wisconsin. She sits on several boards and has a passion for empowering youth.

"I tell people all the time my ceiling will be my granddaughters' floor," Gladney says.

She has some advice for others dreaming of owning their own business.

"What you do is surround yourself with good people that have had business experience. Find a trust network that you can have as advisors. Know that you can't do it alone," she says. "If it doesn't feel right in your spirit or your heart, don't do it."

Shontina Gladney is a strong reminder that setbacks do not have to keep you from moving forward.

"In everything I find a silver lining," she says. "I tell people stop pressing the snooze button on your dreams. No matter what is happening in your life today, tomorrow is an entirely new day."

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