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Shelby Herman of Show Your Glow: “To establish, create, originate”

The definition of founder is: to establish, create, originate. To me being a founder means living your purpose; your dream. It’s easy to get caught up in doing what’s urgent versus doing what’s significant. We often put our dreams on hold to manage our households and daily tasks. Shifting priority to creating what we’re passionate […]

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The definition of founder is: to establish, create, originate. To me being a founder means living your purpose; your dream. It’s easy to get caught up in doing what’s urgent versus doing what’s significant. We often put our dreams on hold to manage our households and daily tasks. Shifting priority to creating what we’re passionate about through small daily progress, can begin to create the life you are meant to live which will ultimately enrich the lives of those around you.


As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shelby Herman.

Show Your Glow Creator Shelby Herman brings more than 20 years of experience in writing in conjunction with her career in court reporting. As a single mom, she found herself in turbulent times.

This journey propelled her to begin soul searching. During meditation, her inner voice spoke to her and the story Shimmer the Glowworm was born. The brand Show Your Glow took off rapidly and now includes a book, children activities, an interactive app, and a full stage production. As a poet and an artist, Herman is actively involved in organizations such as Dramatist Guild, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Women in Animation, and the Charter for Compassion.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I have always believed that we create our experience through our thoughts and words. Growing up I was drawn to art, drawing, painting and making things. When I was 23, I went from being a homeless single mother to becoming a court reporter. The difficult challenges I faced only served to strengthen my conviction in the power of believing in yourself. In 2012, I found myself starting over again. I spent that year on a journey of healing and deep personal growth. Because art had always given me a creative outlet to express myself, I returned to art in many forms and it was then that I created the ME TREE. I wanted to make something that children could have in their room that reminded them how special they are. Although I had never set out to write a children’s story, one night during meditation, the vision of Shimmer the Glowworm came to me. The Show Your Glow song followed and it has been expanding ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Creating the musical version was completely unexpected. Having no background in music, it was incredible to me that I heard these songs in my mind. I knew I wanted to have children be the voices of the characters rather than voiceover actors because it would be more authentic. This brand is for and about children. I also knew what the characters sounded like, because I’ve had conversations with each of them.

I finally saved up enough money for a recording session, and my friend Stevie Fox who is an accomplished music and singing teacher graciously agreed to help. We cast the children where she lives in Tucson, Arizona. I planned to go for one weekend to record Shimmer the Glowworm Finds Her Glow, along with the second story, and seven songs. Being in the studio with all those children was one of the highlights of this entire project. It’s funny now that I thought it would be possible to accomplish that in two days. After three weekend trips out there, she suggested I leave Los Angeles and stay with her for three months. She jokingly said, I bought you a house, which was a charming old trailer on her property. Although grateful, I resisted at first. Leaving the city and my place by the beach for a trailer in the desert seemed crazy, but I needed the break. Three months turned into nine months. It was an incredible experience filled with odd jobs, children singing, wild javelina careening by the trailer at night, new friends, monsoons, mixing and mastering, sound effects, animation, script writing, and total humility.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I had a vivid picture of every detail of my characters. I was working with my illustrator Natalie. She was in school during the day, so she would work all night long. We would pick certain nights to be up. I would text her with sketches and instructions and she would send me renderings. We would go back and forth until the wee hours of the morning. One night around 3 a.m., we were getting tired and she was going to create the next character — the wise old glowworm. I had clearly in my mind that it was a female motherly character, but didn’t have a sketch to send, so I told her to create something. A few minutes later, she sent over the rendering. It was a male character which completely took me by surprise. It didn’t occur to me that what was in my imagination wasn’t obvious to others. Her first rendering looked a bit like Santa Clause. It was hilarious. We couldn’t stop laughing at Santa Clause glowworm. I liked it so much, we kept it, but modified the beard of course. It ended up fitting in perfectly with all my characters which are A-typical stereotypes. The idea of a nurturing male caretaker was perfect. I learned that being open to collaboration can create things far beyond your own imagination, and it’s so much more fun!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Before there was Shimmer the Glowworm, there was the ME TREE. I needed good product photos for my website. Funny now, looking back at how this all started. I Googled product photographers and called the first one alphabetically. He prefers not to be mentioned by name, but from that first meeting, he sensed I needed help. I did. He is highly regarded and shoots for major apparel brands and I came in with a tree and a box of leaves and feathers as he likes to joke. That chance meeting led to a long friendship. He saved me from printing the first book with low res files, gave me business advice, and painstakingly created the animated interactive book from the images. He has been an integral part of the brand to this point. His support and friendship has been momentous.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I create for children, so I’m most impacted by that genre. Charlotte’s Web is one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, but it was so special to me. Like most kids, I loved animals. There are many aspects of the story that resonate with me. I could relate to Fern wanting to save Wilbur, and Wilbur wondering about his significance and finding friendship in an unlikely friend, a tiny spider. That seemingly insignificant creature was able to make a huge difference, not just to Wilbur, but to the whole town. She uplifted Wilbur, much like Shimmer the Glowworm does, and she made him feel special. And each of us is so important and can make a difference, just like a tiny spider named Charlotte.

Do you have a favorite “life lesson quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

There are two life quotes that I rely on when things become painfully difficult. The first is: Through God all things are possible. The second is: All things work together for your good. Following your dream is rarely a straight road, and there are so many challenges and difficulties to face. For me, there has also been a lot of isolation. I think that’s part of the creative process. When I look back at doors that have closed or disappointments that should have worked, I can see now that it wasn’t the right person, place or timing for certain things to unfold. Knowing that failures are often blessings in disguise helps me to put things in perspective. And I truly believe that all things are possible through God. It may sound trite, but belief and faith truly go a long way.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Shimmer the Glowworm is a global mascot that validates children and encourages them to uplift each other. She embraces uniqueness and the value that brings to our communities and the world. She inspires them to create a generation of people that express individuality and unity. Shimmer is non judgmental, has a wonderment about the world, and sees the good in everyone, just like children. Never underestimate the impact of our youth.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

One of the things that hold people back in general is self-doubt. Focusing too much on the details of how every single aspect in the endeavor will be accomplished is overwhelming. I think the fear of lacking skills or knowledge stops people from taking action. You have to just go for it. The path unfolds with the first step.

Can you share with our readers what you are doing to help empower women to become founders?

I always encourage people to follow their passion, take the first few small steps and it will inevitably unfold. Everything springs forth from the first action; baking the first cookie, writing the first word, drawing the first character. Before you know it, you’ll have gone from conceptualized to actualized. Then one day you’ll wake up and realize… you’re a founder.

This might be intuitive to you, but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

The definition of founder is: to establish, create, originate. To me being a founder means living your purpose; your dream. It’s easy to get caught up in doing what’s urgent versus doing what’s significant. We often put our dreams on hold to manage our households and daily tasks. Shifting priority to creating what we’re passionate about through small daily progress, can begin to create the life you are meant to live which will ultimately enrich the lives of those around you.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you please share 5 things that can be done or should be done to help empower more women to become founders? If you can, please share an example or story for each.

First, if you want to be a founder, chances are you have a great idea or there’s something you’re pulled to do. There are a few ways to get started and overcome self-doubt.

1. Know that there are people out there that will love and want what you create. There is an audience for everything. Put it out there as a sample or prototype somehow and the positive feedback you get will give you confidence. I didn’t know what to do with the ME TREEs, but I started going to craft fairs and got such great responses.

2. Don’t take the good or bad opinions of other too much to heart, especially if it’s critical. I’ve had many people tell me that the story was too long, too short, not this or that. Always listen to your inner voice. You have a vision for a reason. Your idea or your new version of something has a place.

3. Don’t worry if your first idea doesn’t click. It may be the gateway to something even better. The ME TREEs opened the door for the creativity to flow to Shimmer the Glowworm, books, music, curriculum, performance and so much more. Sometimes the universe needs to teach you to listen and act. Then it will trust you with more.

4. Not sure how to make it, write it, create it? There are endless resources to help you. I have used sites like Fiverr and Upwork to get stuff made.

5. And most importantly, have fun! Wanting to go for your dream is not for the faint of heart. It will test you on every level, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually. Sometimes relationships suffer and sacrifices and difficult choices must be made. If you love what you’re doing, it’s all worth it. Many times I have felt like putting this on a shelf, but I wake up the next day and can’t wait to create, write, or design some aspect. That’s what keeps me going.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

It would be the SHOW YOUR GLOW Movement. Children’s characters have the ability to bridge gaps and bring people together through commonality. My vision is that Shimmer the Glowworm becomes a global mascot for children of all ages that imparts the values of embracing our uniqueness, recognizing individual qualities as an integral part of communities and the world, and reminding others of their inherent value. To put it another way, if we have a new generation that says to each other — Show YOUR Glow! Imagine what incredible things can come from that. One of the ways we inspire this at events is through stickers that say “ I AM SPECIAL.” We give two stickers — one for each child to keep and one to give away. The impact of that simple act ripples throughout, brings smiles, and self-love, just like Charlotte did.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

There are so many incredible people that I admire. Tyler Perry is at the top of my list. His journey resonates with me on so many levels. His childhood escape under the porch to live in his imagination is something I did also, escape into my imagination. Creating something from limited resources has also been my experience. His movie Diary of a Mad Black Woman is a story I personally relate to. His determination and faith in God are what carried him through, and I too, walk that path. There’s so much more, but the last thing I’ll mention is that his love for wanting to create joy and give people hope through his stories is what inspires him, and that is what inspires me too. That accomplishment in itself is the definition of success to me.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Our website https://www.showyourglow.com/. This has links to our other platforms such as Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com, App, online curriculum. Also, @ShowYourGlowOfficial on Instagram and Facebook, and @Shimmerglows on Twitter.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Thank you so much for these thought-provoking questions. I enjoyed remembering some of the steps I have taken as a founder. I wish for glowing success for everyone!

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