She is a business owner. She is a mom. She is perseverant and approachably humble. She is Kelly Youngs, founder and heart of She is Fierce. If you’re a woman living in St. Augustine, chances are you’ve heard of, been invited to, or maybe even attended a local She is Fierce Speaker Series event. The organization also offers monthly local networking meet-ups, a weekly local radio show, inspirational articles from global contributors, and a global membership community. All of this has grown in a few short years.
Kelly was a jet-setting media producer in London working a bazillion hours (no exaggeration, per Kelly) in her former life. When she and her husband decided to start a family, however, they decided it was time to change pace and return home to St. Augustine where her family has been since Kelly’s middle school years. Going from a fast-paced career in the big city to mommyhood in sunny St. Augustine was a bit of a shell shock for Kelly and she soon began wondering what she was going to do with herself. Kelly loved being a mom and had no desire to return to the rat race, but knew she needed a project through which to channel her inner drive.
There was an idea that had been rattling around in Kelly’s head since her early career days. What if we could create a community where women could draw upon each other for inspiration, advice, support? It would be a place where women could discover their true potential, feel empowered and accomplish amazing things. Kelly’s soul-searching season turned out to be the perfect breeding ground for such an idea to finally come to life.
She is Fierce started as a website with articles for women to contribute and share and has been growing and evolving ever since. This summer will mark the third year of the summer Speaker Series held at the Treasury on the Plaza. Kelly says of the inaugural series in 2015, “I figured so much out about the direction we could go in – the pieces I loved doing and those that were maybe not the right fit.” This year, She is Fierce added monthly Networking Meetups in partnership with Bozard and RE/MAX. Each Meetup is hosted in a different local business and features one “fierce” woman and one non-profit.
Kelly emphasizes the difference between She is Fierce and other networking groups that are more transactional in nature. “When somebody first encounters it, they might think it just a site for women or a networking group, it really is about highlighting stories of women. The reality is everybody has a story and everybody’s had to struggle through something. It really highlights the fact that even these women we put on a pedestal have been dealing with that stuff, and it’s ok if you’re dealing with it too. It’s creating a community to help support those women as they’re figuring out what’s most important to them and getting through barriers.”
Being a successful and fierce woman in her own right, the message Kelly shares with other women is whatever that thing is that you really care about – you can do it. “If you really genuinely care about something, you should invest your time in it and not be afraid to tell people that it’s important to you. I think that’s the #1 way people hold themselves back – because it’s scary to tell people that you care about something or that maybe I won’t be perfect at this. If you can get past that barrier, just get out there and do the embarrassing thing and tell people that you care, suddenly it makes things a lot easier.”
Visit the She is Fierce online at www.sheisfiercehq.com. You can also catch She is Fierce in a recently launched radio show Saturdays at 9:00 am on WSOS 103.9 FM.
Photography by Rob Futrell