Fierce Has Never Looked This Good
If Beyonce's alter-ego Sasha Fierce had a list of websites she checked every morning, She Is Fierce! would be at the top. Founder Kelly Youngs started She Is Fierce! LESS THAN A YEAR AGO, guys. As in, the site's not even 12 months old. And she's already grown it into "a global community of many tens of thousands of women, 50,000+ social media followers, [and] hundreds of contributors." Show us your ways, Kelly!
Her community of Fierce is a portal ripe with real "femspiration" for the entrepreneurial, professional and aspiring women who want to know how to go after what they want in their careers and lives.
Kelly's got all our angles covers. Her Leap of Fierce section features personal stories of women who took the plunge to pursue their passions (submit your own story here); Fierce Talks, a live show with incredible and incredibly real women who have overcome life's struggles to do what others told them was not possible, debuted to an audience of more than 1,000 (watch all the speakers here); and the membership area of her site offers exclusive content and coaching (sign up here to find out when the next round of memberships are being released).
And to think she's doing it all with diaper bag in tow -- Kelly has a three- and a one-year-old at home! Girl, go.
This is pretty remarkable. Like, astonishing. So I asked how she did it. Because I'm nosy like that.
And let me tell you, her story, voice and vision are beyond refreshing. To read how she has navigated the challenges and wins that come with taking the big jump to launch her site, business and programs is like tearing a page from the memoirs of any best-selling motivational leader out there. If she can do it, you'll leave this webpage feeling that you can too.
Now go get your fierce on.
What did you set out to create when you started She Is Fierce!?
I had been thinking for years about creating a brand for women that focused on the positive and inspirational, but was also very practical.
Even when I was in high school and college, I was always looking for new content - video, books, anything, - that was fun and could be girly or feminine, but also serious and intelligent and not about gossip, celebrities and the latest diet fad... I also always wished I could have my own "coach" for every area of my life (which I think we all wish, really!)... a life coach, a career coach, a health coach, etc. I think it was simply the need we all feel for REAL advice from real experts that we can act on to take our lives in the direction we want to move in.
As I got older, I started to feel a real loss of time spent with friends, but especially with the kinds of people who challenge you and help you to be a better version of yourself! Having a fulfilling social life can be so hard for women - we work 40-60 hour weeks, take care of kids, plan everything, clean the house... etc. etc. etc. How on earth are we supposed to find other women who we really relate to and have time to connect with them too?
My hope is that as She Is Fierce! grows, we will be able to fulfill those needs for more and more women through our membership community and the inspirational content and free materials on our site.
When did you know you were really on to something?
I knew even before She Is Fierce! launched that what I was working on would fill a void for me personally, and I believed very strongly that there were a lot of other women like me who were looking for a positive place to grow online and in real life... but it was a big leap of fierce for me personally to put my dream out there and take a chance building a new brand!
Once we launched, I was genuinely amazed at how quickly women responded - and I was so overwhelmed at the response to our first Fierce Talks series! We featured women from all walks of life and backgrounds, who each had their own story about their own "leap of fierce." They talked about paths they had taken that made their lives so remarkable, the challenges they overcame, and how they built the lives they are living now.
Every single woman who came up and spoke with me after the events commented on how REAL the women who spoke were - there weren't any canned speeches or women trying to make themselves sound impressive. The speakers were just genuinely fierce women who were willing to be vulnerable, to share their personal stories and their own challenges and triumphs.
Just to give you an example... we had so many phenomenal speakers, but I was so honored to have Loretta Claiborne, who is an ESPY-Award winner, a Special Olympics athlete, the subject of a Disney film and a 26-time marathon finisher as one of our speakers. She overcame growing up with a learning disability as a young African-American girl in the Sixties living in the inner-city, at a time when doctors told her mother to institutionalize her. She stood up on our Fierce Talks stage and shared her story from the heart - and then shared a few anecdotes from one of her recent visits to the White House! She is just a shining example of a truly fierce woman who overcame so much and has dedicated her life now to improving the lives of other Special Olympics athletes.
How has your background in TV and digital production informed your work at She Is Fierce!?
My background has been in building TV and digital products and shows, which has been a real asset as I have been working on the practical side of building She Is Fierce! I do think that in some ways it actually makes things more challenging... I am a total perfectionist, and it is a lot easier to achieve something close to perfection when you are working for global companies and have lots of other people to rely on. I have had to learn to let go of the fact that everything doesn't all happen at once, and that sometimes, things just won't look or work the way I want them to.
2015 has been a huge year for She Is Fierce!. How have you managed the challenges of such rapid growth?
It has been wonderfully overwhelming! We have had so much happen already this year... we launched, we had our first nine-week Fierce Talks speaker series, and we launched our membership community full of coaching and support for women taking their own big "leap of fierce" to live their best life.
I have a three-year-old and one-year-old on top of all of that, which I think has actually made it easier to handle the pressure. When something isn't going well, I still have two adorable people to cuddle with at the end of the day... and when things are going well, it is so sweet to think that I am building something that they can be proud of one day too!
You just launched the Leap of Fierce membership and course (amazing name, by the way). Tell us what the program is all about.
I'm so glad you love the name!! The Leap of Fierce! membership is all about providing women with the practical tools and coaching they need to live their best lives. We have INCREDIBLE coaches and experts from all different walks of life sharing their insights into everything from finding your passion, to the first steps to take into entrepreneurialism, to how to be stop and meditate in the middle of the busy, crazy days all women live everyday!
We did our first membership launch this year, and we'll be doing another big launch in early 2016... we have so many cool things planned for the year ahead - I get really excited thinking about everything we're working on!
How have you been able to create the thriving community of contributors that you have?
Our guest contributors are a remarkable group of women from around the world who have expertise in so many different areas. We have grown from about 10 contributors when we launched to hundreds of women sharing their personal growth stories, their business advice, their motherhood tips and so much more.
I think we have grown so quickly because we are very focused on providing a very clear kind of content - positive, uplifting, informative and intelligent. We want our content - whether it is a fun lifestyle piece or an informative how-to, to give our audience some information or help they were seeking or something inspiring that may actually impact their lives!
We also provide an outlet for women entrepreneurs and experts to share their message with their core audience... other women who have a specific interest in their area of expertise!
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would absolutely tell my younger self to just go for everything! I took some risks that really paid off when I was younger, like moving to London where I ended up working as a producer at CNN International and getting engaged to my wonderful husband! But, I also really believed I had to get everything in place perfectly before I could do what I really wanted to do... which was build a brand like She Is Fierce!
When we are young we think everything has to be perfect for us to move forward... we think we need to have the perfect resume, the perfect style, the perfect friends, the perfect plan, but the reality is you create a life that brings you joy from just jumping in and doing things when you're not ready... and sometimes all of the mess that comes with that reality is what makes your experience or what you create so much better!
You run this bustling community, site and business; are an adjunct professor and consultant; and share it all with a husband and two kids. Incredible! What does balance mean to you?
Ha, thanks! I totally agree with the theory that balance doesn't exist... I think you have to figure out what is important to you then and focus on it. Right now, what is most important to me is my family, and growing and reaching more women with She Is Fierce!, and making a difference in their lives. I know that is what brings me joy. I also know that means some days I work from home and don't take a shower until I have to pick my kids up from day care... and only then because it feels so wrong to be seen at the end of the day without having showered!!
What can you never leave home without?
Diapers and wipes... Enough said.