One local entrepreneur is helping young women and teens find themselves and feel confident in uncomfortable situations.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Shelby Pressley is on a mission to be that change through her coaching business Shelby Speaks.
“Shelby Speaks is the brand I created that encompasses my passion for motivational speaking, education, and self-awareness for young girls and women as they learn about themselves and their individual paths through life,” she says.
The inspiration for such a business started back in 2019 when Pressley was going through a transition in her career and found herself doing some soul searching.
“I was thinking about my skill sets and things that interested me and how I could merge the two,” she explains. “I made a list and the two things that stood out to me was my love for education and my desire to educate young women.”
From there she started building a curriculum that specifically focused on girls and young women, and touched on the things they wouldn’t learn inside a classroom.
“I wanted to have an open dialogue and a safe space for girls to discuss things like sexual health, bullying, dating, anxiety/depression, self-esteem, and personal goal setting for the future,” says Pressley.
She says the curriculum was built around one question: What were the things I wish an older woman would have shared with me?
As the one-woman show behind Shelby Speaks, Pressley says that her self-awareness and experience with many female youth struggles helps her to stay motivated and passionate about what she’s doing to help today’s youth.
“I want to be that bridge that expresses they’re not alone and equip them with tools they can use now and as they continue to grow,” she says. “I create lesson plans and curriculums that target many of the issues young women are currently facing but may not feel comfortable disclosing to a parent or guardian yet.”
Before COVID struck, Pressley was teaching weekly classes at Hughes STEM High School, her own alma mater, to the seventh and eighth grade girls. Two days a week she was having engaging discussions with the girls as well as group activities and weekly challenges. She’s also hosted group events and various speaking engagements at Mount St. Joseph University and the University of Dayton, and has worked with individual girls on a one-on-one basis to help them personally address challenges they are facing.
While her business model has been altered due to the pandemic, she’s still enjoying working with her current clients and having a positive impact on their lives.
“I absolutely love when I have someone who reaches back out to me and says that something I’ve taught them helped them get through a difficult situation or that they had an encounter like something we previously discussed and felt confident and comfortable on how to handle it because they remembered what I said,” she says. “I think one of the greatest gifts you can give is the endowment of knowledge to someone else.”
Pressley says that due to COVID, she is continuing her work with goals via weekly Zoom calls and holding live online chats and check-ins.
“I hope to hold another group event around female health and relationships when I feel it’s safe to do so,” she says.