How To Transform Women Into Leaders Like A Professional
Back in March, I had the distinct pleasure to interview with Dr. Shantell Malachi of Richmond Virginia, Founder & Executive Director, Dress for Success Central Virginia, Chief Executive Officer at SheEmpowers™ International, Author of “Career Couture: The Modern Guide to Redefining Your Career” available on Amazon, 2012 Style Weekly’s Top 40 under 40. We chop it up about empowering women and how to transform women into leaders like professionals. Her goal is to help women pursue greater entrepreneur ventures and get involved in philanthropy while discussing how to run an organization that caters to helping people and solving common obstacles that women face in professional and personal settings. When it comes to business, Shantell is about it. She is making it happen in the community, building women up each and every day through her hard work and dedication to being a community advocate for change.
Shantell’s primary project, which started in 2012 was Dress for Success, wanting to use her HR knowledge to help people. She describes Dress for Success as the “Starbucks” of the non-profit world, buying into the franchise back in 2012. Shantell explains at the time, she wanted to feel fulfilled. She says that prior to stepping out with DFS, handing out pink slips or bonuses at the office wasn’t doing it for her. She says that she experienced burn-out doing the same thing every day and being the “big-wig HR executive”. She opened Dress for Success, serving over 1,000 women in the metro Virginia area. Beyond getting them into great clothes, she has helped them find jobs, further their education, and reenter society for those that were previously incarcerated. Shantell’s newest business venture is SheEmpowers, a women’s networking organization. It’s a woman-led organization where members contribute goals, activities, and assistance in building one another up in life and business. The members help create the services and programs offered through SheEmpowers, to ensure that they are catered to each individual.
Shantell describes herself as being picky about who and what she allows in her circle. Shantell is also picky about the information she allows in her mind and spirit, also where she spends her energy. She explains that SheEmpowers was the next logical step after Dress for Success, as it embodies the idea of creating what you want to be a part of. Shantell says that she wasn’t finding anything outside of this venture, that she truly desired to be a part of, as far as local organizations catering to women. She wasn’t feeling the idea of cocktails every Friday, which doesn’t help grow her business or train her on building her influence. She describes being bored reading about local groups that wasn’t catering to her passion, to grow her business and help other people.
The premise for both Dress for Success and SheEmpowers is to empower women. For the people who question why her ventures don’t cater to men, Shantell explains that women in 2016 are still an underserved population. She does not want that to always be the case, hence her efforts to transform women into leaders.
Dress for Success is a social service, as DFS provides services to women who are in disadvantaged situations or facing some unusual obstacles, such as fleeing domestic violence, reentering the workforce, trying to get back on their feet. DFS is helping these women gain their footing and fulfill their goals.
SheEmpowers, Shantell describes, is taking the work of DFS a step further. Most of the women who are a part of SheEmpowers are professional women who are already started on the path of entrepreneurship, but for some reason are now stuck. Either their business isn’t growing or their network isn’t booming. The organization caters to women who need an extra push to step their business up to the next level.
Both of these ventures came from Shantell not feeling what was out there. She says that her organizations stand out because it’s about transformation versus stagnating growth. Many of us are going to a bunch of local events, in front of the same group of people all the time. SheEmpowers is about growing and transforming what you have while building with new people who you may have never met otherwise.
As we laughed about not needing one more vision board party, Shantell says that they are creating blueprints for success, not just visualizing the goal but laying out an actual plan to accomplish each plan.
In response to Vision Boards and Vision board parties, Shantell says, “If you have no plan behind it, it’s just a bunch of cut up pictures on a board”.
Shantell wants us to create blueprints for our lives. She says our goals has to be beyond just sitting around having drinks to meeting new people and building our resources and network, not just sitting with your friends and talking (gossiping).
Shantell says sometimes things get so deep, that she often forgets that outside of the organization, she doesn’t really know many of the women personally. That’s a testament to how close the bond is between all the women and the culture she has built through the organization’s sisterhood. It’s not a secret society, it’s a family. The goal is to hold each other accountable, because of our common goals of being successful. She says because many of the members share similar interest and lifestyles, such as being leaders, mothers, and business owners or employees, all vying for opportunity and success.
She also says that SheEmpowers doesn’t segregate entrepreneurs and employees. She questions why can’t a mid-level manager and a CEO learn a lot from each other. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to be a part of this community because so many people are at different levels in their lives. Her goal is to support all types of women. She wants women to benefit from other women on various levels of their career, wanting diversity on all echelons.“You have to have an authentic desire to fulfill a need in order to be successful.” Click To Tweet
Shantell says that people want to see an impact. She is often asked how many women are getting what they need, how many are getting jobs? DFS has a higher employment rate than the country. The women that come to DFS, 27% are gaining employment from their help alone. Many of the women are working with other agencies, attending training for jobs that they don’t qualify for. Shantell says that starting with self-confidence through a new suit, it scientifically changes a woman both personally and professionally. Often the women are taken more seriously after seeking the services of Dress for Success, feeling like they are dressing for the job that they want, much more than what they have. Shantell says it’s hard to envision yourself in a successful position or prepare for an interview when you don’t have the proper attire for your opportunity.
Shantell says that the challenges she faced are that there are some people who don’t want help, therefore, they can’t help them. Anyone who truly wants the help, she doesn’t imagine them being unsuccessful. She is very stringent about her time, holding clients accountable to be on time, to communicate, be prepared for appointments, etc. For the ones that don’t want it or gripped by fear, they don’t completely give up on them, they refer them to counseling or outside services. Some of us are scared to be successful or encountering a place in life that we aren’t completely familiar with. Shantell says that volunteers are great with counseling and mentorship, to aid in building up clients. She says that many of the women are inspired by their mentors and “best friends”, who may have dealt with the same issues and obstacles that they are currently struggling with through DFS and SheEmpowers.
For the professional women through SheEmpowers, women are often buried in debt, needing the inspiration to start a business or fear of going further. Shantell sees that regardless of which organization, it’s all fear that holds many women back.“Whatever drops into your spirit to help people, Roll with it, make it happen.” Click To Tweet
Shantell says that she credits her awesome support team and her branding to why she is successful. She says her business isn’t centered on drinking, cocktails or “clubbing”. She says her organizations are trying to help people, it is not cookie cutter. The goal is to have a huge membership, but it is member led first. Input from others is essential to the success of the group, especially if it appeals to the members. She gives examples, like her monthly business brainstorm meeting, because members complained not being able to talk to their peers and friends about their ideas and business challenges. The idea of that event came from women saying they needed an outlet for “business girlfriends” to talk about the challenges and obstacles that entrepreneurs and mompreneurs face.
“Many of us are jaded, because we are tired of spending money on organizations that aren’t catering to us, or beneficial to us. We are also buried in debt. $90 a year is a lot to invest in membership at the moment when you live paycheck to paycheck.”
With their 1 year anniversary in April, the goal of SheEmpowers is to reach more women in order to help them and impact them. Shantell admits to the membership base growing substantially because there is a need for new and innovative groups. Despite there being so many groups and leaders out there, Shantell desire to fulfill a need and truly help people not feel drained of information and resources, but build with one another is inspirational in itself. SheEmpowers is filled with women that either match your skills or can teach you something that aids in your professional and personal growth.
Shantell says that it’s necessary to have a team. You can do a lot by yourself, but if you truly want to reach further and be more impactful, you have to find some like-minded people, other ideas, and views at the table. We need other people in some form or fashion. You must be picky! She says by laying out her plan, her blueprint, just to see who was right for the team and who would be committed. Shantell explains that amazing things can happen on your own, but she again attributes her team to her overall success.
Shantell drops a lasting gem,
“Where the women go, is where the community go. If you look around and you don’t like what you see, you have to collaborate with other women and mobilize. Women are the mothers, leaders, the decision makers, where we go, the people follow. If you don’t like what you see in your personal life, you need to find other women to make a change as a group. Don’t believe me, do the research. In communities where the women are failing, the communities are failing. In communities where the women thrive, the communities thrive. For every one woman who is lifted out of poverty, she takes 6 people with her. We are powerful and impact so much! Women can affect generations. We must do it together.”
Shantell admits to not always being as supportive of other women in the past, which she has graciously changed by contributing growth and transformation to making her a better person. She appreciates her transformative phase, going from “mean girl” to women empowering expert and #bosschick.
Listen to How To Transform Women Into Leaders Like A Professional
Connect with Dr. Shantell Malachi:
Shantell Malachi Facebook –
https://www.facebook.com/LivingTheCoutureLife/ – Business Page
https://www.facebook.com/drshantellmalachi – Personal Page
Purchase “Career Couture: The Modern Guide to Redefining Your Career” available on Amazon