Shelby Smith, a communication and rhetorical studies major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and a Chinese studies minor in the College of Arts and Science, always knew that she wanted to be involved in making something impactful and purposeful.
Her entrepreneurship journey began with Contrast, a service company that focused on women’s cosmetics, founded in 2017. Although she didn’t continue with this venture, this experience gave Shelby access to resources around campus. Through mentors like Gabriela Meija, the Blackstone LaunchPad, and the Couri Hatchery, Shelby was able to work with the best of the best and learn how to make impact. But most importantly, after her first taste of entrepreneurship, from business plan competitions to managing events, she caught the bug. She found a love for business development, startup culture, and found a passion for “implementing strategy to help get these companies off of the ground.” She saw how there was truly so much more than a business plan, how she can really help others with their businesses, and got ready to take on her next big challenge. Her experience in running her own company gave her the connections to meet the CEO of NJ-based startup Kairos Culture, where she was enticed by the mission and service-aspect of the company.
Smith is currently the COO of Kairos Culture, a creative community made up of Christian creatives, activists, and entrepreneurs who want to create an impact in the world, while promoting the foundation and values of their religion. This is done by creating training sessions that feature mentors who are experts in their fields, who speak to the affiliates on how they made substantial strides in society on their own path, by fostering a community that is always in contact, and linking to the community. Right now, the group is targeting college students, ages 18-23 who are looking into ways to create a large impact, and is limited to 50 members. However, one of their biggest milestones to date is the more than 150 people who registered for their first training session at Rutgers University. Smith has pitched in business plan competitions all over the East Coast and at Syracuse University.
When asked about how important creativity is to her, Smith said, “Love is the goal. Creativity is one of the ways we aspire to show love, and a desire to create change in our communities.” She credits her success with Kairos Culture to amazing leadership that promotes mental health and collaboration with the team. But most importantly, the best part of working at Kairos Culture for her is her own personal growth, both growing self-confidence in herself and knowing that if someone doesn’t like your idea, it’s okay. It’s also taught her about passion, and about the drive she wants to have in her life after graduating this May. “You really need to be passionate about what you’re focusing on, it makes your life so much more enjoyable.”
Kairos Culture is continuing to develop by expanding its business model, including a clothing line very soon. Smith will also be around at the Blackstone LaunchPad working on managing the community that helps others reach their full potential, along with working on her own lifestyle blog at shelbydsmith.com.
Make sure to check out more about Shelby and Kairos Culture by checking out their website kairosculture.net and Instagram @kairosculture.
Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Watson Scholar Kayla Simon ’19