Alexa Seeger

Shanley Pearl’s Refreshing Definition of Success in Entrepreneurship

Screenshot taken of Shanley Pearl’s Instagram account, Hungry in Detroit.

Meeting Shanley Pearl over lunch, I can’t help but associate her with the Perrier carbonated water she chose. It’s become part of my perception of her. Like Perrier, she’s bubbly, she appeals to those with fine taste, and she’s got a bit of a sarcastic bite to her.

Shanley spoke to our class during our trip to Detroit, discussing her startup business, Hungry in Detroit. Looking for a flexible career and capitalizing on her experiences, she started an Instagram account focusing on local restaurants. She built a following in less than a year and began marketing herself as a social media consultant.

Today, she has as many clients as she can handle, makes a comfortable living and enjoys telling other people how to be better at social media. Sweet gig right?

I wanted to write about Shanley because, not only was she super transparent, she is who I want to be. Now, socials aren’t my area of expertise. I mean, hearing her, I’m definitely going to start working on it. But really, my passion is for graphic design. My dream job is to work from home designing little aspects of people’s lives. I think good design makes the world a little better.

Back to reality.

It was really refreshing to hear Shanley speak about her experiences and aspirations. She found that she didn’t desire an office job, not even one with the Red Wings. So she started her own company, sets her own hours and cultivates her own clients.

The thing is, her aspirations never felt unworthy. I think sometimes in media, we get caught up in competition. With the competitive broadcast and sports journalism markets, young journalists are told you have to intern with HOMTV, you have to be building a reel, you have to work long hours for little pay. And if that’s what you’re passionate about, that’s wonderful!

But when you’re like me, it’s draining. I have to say no, I have no interest in TV. No, I don’t want a PhD. No, I don’t want to apply for the position with the Tigers. I’ve sometimes felt people think less of me for not pursuing what we often identify as success.

Talking with Shanley reaffirmed for me the belief that success, fantastic success, can be defined on your own terms.

Her work and her lifestyle her work makes possible clearly brings her joy. And she’s not afraid to say no to traditional definitions of success. In fact, after telling us she’s at capacity for clients, she admitted to considering scaling her business up. You know, hiring people, achieving the goal of having minions do all her work. For right now though, she said she wants to just enjoy where she’s at.

Instead of having to work around someone else’s hours, she can roll out of bed and right Instagram captions all morning.

Instead of managing other people’s creative visions, she has complete control over her product. She’s happy where she’s at and content to enjoy it. That is until she decides for herself she’s ready to grow. That will be in her own time, on her own terms, achieving her own definition of success.

She taught me that startups don’t have to grow into multi-million dollar corporations. They can be you, with your laptop and your camera solving real problems for real people.

Refreshing, just like Perrier.

Photo used with permission from Scott Webb on Unsplash.

One thought on “Shanley Pearl’s Refreshing Definition of Success in Entrepreneurship

  1. Alexa, I’m glad you’re recognizing the difference between “success” and success. One of the biggest reasons why someone can be called “successful” is because they can do or buy things that most people can’t. That’s the thing. We want what we can’t have. As humans, we’ve got this strange fixation on monetary value, which is part of the criteria for people to view someone as successful. If Shanley had the same amount of followers but didn’t make any money off of her Instagram business, could she be considered successful for it?


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