Growing up, curvy model Shettima Webb was often bullied and teased for her looks. She developed extremely low self-esteem and carried that pain into her adult years. Turning a negative into a positive, she used criticism as motivation by opening Model Esteem, an agency designed to educate models and creatives about the industry but more importantly help them find confidence in themselves.
Why is it important for women of color to lead or work in leadership roles and decision-making capacities?
I believe it is extremely important for women of color to be in leadership roles but more importantly making a key decision. The reason being is that it gives Black women or women of color a voice. Look at some of the ads that have been in the media lately, Dove, H&M, etc. I truly believe that if there were women of color or even men of color making decisions, those ads would have been deemed [insensitive] to our culture. Another example is Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, these extraordinary women have set the bar high for greatness, leaving no excuse for Black women [not to] achieve their goals.
If you could thank any Black woman history maker for her contributions to society, who would it be and why?
Michelle Obama — I mean, to be the first lady of the United States as a Black woman given our history is mind-blowing. She was gracious, poised, intelligent, beautiful. She is truly my girl crush. I love me some Michelle. She exuded excellence. My second is Harriet Tubman. Her story is one of strength and bravery in a time where she risks her life to save her people. I can’t imagine what kept her sane to do that. But because of her, there were many who were free. Oh, and, of course, Oprah. I mean, do I need to say more? Look at the media empire she has built and the amount of influence she has. That is powerful.
How do you feel about the hashtag #CollaborationOverCompetition? What qualities or values do you deem indispensable in your business partners or collaborators?
I really do like collaborations and I believe that it is essential for business growth. As Black women, [we’ve had] this “crabs in the barrel” mentality. I mean, why? Why can’t we all get money? As there is enough money out here in these streets to get. Plus, every person has their own strengths and collaborations help foster those strengths in different individuals.
What are your thoughts on taking risks? Making mistakes?
Oh, God knows I am a risk taker. I have made mistakes and it turned out OK and others not so much. I believe risk taking is a huge part of life, especially in business. I mean, who wants to go through life playing it safe? I know I did and I was extremely unhappy until I started branching out and living. If you never take a risk, you will never know what will happen.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
Um, because I got bills to pay, and I got goals to meet. More importantly, my purpose, which is to inspire and to encourage.
How did you determine your career path?
My purpose decided my goals in life. You have known who you are and what you were created to do. Knowing your purpose helps determine the path you need to go.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I am extremely sensitive. I have gotten better but certain things bother me way too much at times. I often work too hard and need to learn balance and time for myself.
What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?
I would say have a backup plan while working your plan. It’s hard being a business owner but even harder when you are trying to solely live off that income. Don’t be ashamed if you have to work a job while growing your business. The other advice is to hire people who are smarter than you and who can take your business to the next level.
How do you successfully grow from business failure?
You allow yourself to cry. There is no sense in hiding the fact that failure hurts and is disappointing. But after you cry, you look at what needs to be improved and try again until it works. You might have to revamp it a few times but if you keep at it you eventually will find your way.