Shelby Ivey Christie is a HiDef girl in a .jpg world. Our favorite digital marketer/advertiser, Shelby draws you in with her authenticity and willingness to be herself, in a world and Internet where so many are trying to be the same. She digitizes brands for Vogue and gets us in formation with her daily informational threads about all things media and advertising. Read on for gems from this beauty who is also all brains and keep up with her via her Twitter @bronze_bombshel.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and where are you headed?
Hi, I’m I’m Shelby. I love brunching, shoe shopping and reading a good book in a sunny park. This is True Life I’m addicted to YouTube Beauty Tutorials lol. I’m a true Cancer, which means I’m in one of two moods: super introverted or somewhere wildin’. Pinterest is my safe space and magazines are my second Bible (the Bible is my first Bible). My mom is my bestfriend (but she never lets me forget “she ain’t one of my lil friends”). My career is basically my life.
How did you get your start in digital branding? Who or what inspired you?
I started out on the editorial side of the media business. After dropping out of college after my Freshman year I decided I wanted to pursue writing. I flew to NYC one summer to interview for editorial internships at W Magazine, Cosmo & Good Housekeeping. I got all 3 offers but decided to go with W Magazine as it was the most fashion focused opportunity. I eventually went back to college and went on to work for Black Enterprise, Global Grind and InStyle Magazine. My internship experience led me to start a career readiness org at my HBCU called Bombshells in Business. I had to convince students to join which is what really got my digital marketing wheels spinning. We grew to be the largest org at the largest HBCU in the nation. Upon graduating I was like “Wait. I’m good at this marketing thing. I have the editorial background. I can do this.” So, I did. I applied to a bunch of agencies and landed at GroupM, one of the largest ad agencies in the world.
I have had many career inspirations but mostly fashion & movies have really driven me. More specifically, movie costuming. My love of film is something I inherited from my father. We can sit & watch films all day and analyze story lines, visuals and character depth. I particularly loved watching period pieces as a kid because of the costuming. I remember seeing Marie Antionette (2006) as a teenager and being in awe of Kirsten Dunst’s wardrobe in that film and thinking I’d love to have a piece of that. I wanted to be involved in that. Not necessarily the film but I wanted to be close to the clothes. I didn’t know in what way then but some how I’ve ended up close to the clothes now.
A self-professed HiDef girl in a .jpg world, you have created an avenue for yourself on social media by staying true to you and also posting useful advertising or media related content. What are your thoughts on how the internet has made creating or storytelling open to anyone? How can/should one position them self to stand out in such a saturated market?
I think it’s great that the internet has become this hub for all kinds of narratives to be found. So many varied stories, lives and perspectives are shared out daily and I’ve found that it’s helped open my eyes to different walks of life. In college everyone and everything is so uniform: you’re the class of two thousand and X, you’re an X major, you’re in X organization, you major in X but in the real world there exists so much grey space that we aren’t really exposed to as children and young adults. I really enjoyed how accessible the internet has made other walks of life are…Even if I have to see it through the lens of a Twitter thread.
I think one can position themselves to stand out by being themselves. I think just being you and communicating it in an authentic and strategic way is enough. Take blogging for example, it’s a super saturated market. Everyone is selling an e-course, or boss girl brunch ticket and posting a daily inspo quote…but then everyone starts to seem the same, right? There’s this echo chamber of sameness and that’s when an opportunity presents itself for those who have honed their own voice. Like The Reign XY for example, this medium fits into the blogging space however it’s voice, it’s look and its appeal is very ORIGINAL. It’s a blog but it’s a blog in a very individual and unique way. So standing out and getting your message heard over the noise comes down to pushing out your authentic self, image and message consistently. No everyone won’t hear you but the RIGHT people will.
You mentioned once on Twitter that you’re not blogging in the same way you used to because ideas aren’t safe in the age of social media. Could you say more about that and how/why your level of engagement changed?
Yes, yes, I no longer blog. I used to contribute career and personal advice to a blog. However, I’ve stopped because of biting. As I previously mentioned, I come from an editorial background where there are clear rules & boundaries set around plagiarism and intellectual property. The internet isn’t like that, there’s no real guidelines around the ownership of your posts or content outchea on the web. There’s no authority monitoring the TL or the blog to make sure your content isn’t being used without consent, right? There were far too many times where I felt like the line between someone being “inspired” by my work and someone plagiarizing my work were crossed. I work very hard to be my true, authentic self in the digital space and I felt like maybe people were taking advantage of that. To protect my content, my hard work and my sanity I decided my work is better suited for protected spaces. I started a “secret” IG account where all the screenshots in my phone and ideas in my head live. Only my close friends, family and super cool online connects follow it. I feel like it’s a “safe space.”
Oddly, enough my engagement has significantly increased since choosing not to funnel content through my blog. I’ve found that funneling it directly to my TL ensures I get attribution for my work (RTs, mentions) and it allows the conversation to be more open and organic. I also think others see the content being RTd or discussed and they feel compelled to join in. Posting to the TL also removed an extra step of having to click through a link and load a page of content. We live in a time of snackable content. People want to be able to consume your content quickly, a blog post doesn’t always allow for that. Whereas a 140-character tweet does.
What opportunities do you see for women/women of color/girls in your field and how do you intend to positively influence them?
There are endless opportunities in this field: Marketing, Data Analytics, Campaign Management, Social Media Management, Site Directors, Account Management. This list goes on. Are we always exposed to these kinds of opportunities and recruited for them? That’s another story. But the opportunities are there. I think my presence in this space has helped to expose these kinds of role to women of color. I’ve had droves of women reach out wanting to know what my role entails and what other kinds of role exist in the media ecosphere. I am the only Black woman on my entire team. It’s my hope that my name on that Vogue masthead every month shows another woman of color that there IS room for us in this space. I personally encourage and guide any woman who expresses interest in these roles. I answer every email and I give as much information, direction and opportunities as I can. I didn’t get to this space on my own. Many women opened doors for and before me. So I intend to pull other women of color through the doorway I’ve opened here at Vogue and throughout the advertising industry.
You speak a lot about the right way to reach out. What message would you give to millennial WOC trying to break into your field?
I’d say do your research. The shiny, flashy, highly visible roles aren’t always as they appear. Just because a role has a great title attached to it or is within a well known organization doesn’t guarantee you’ll love it…Or that it will even afford you the proper experience for your long term career. Find what fits you, even if it’s not the fanciest of roles. I’d also advise you not be afraid of the grunt work. I interned until I was 24 years old. I’m not saying that’s everyone’s journey but being in the weeds really teaches you a level of management and attention to detail that you can’t get when you skip steps in the career process.
What can we expect from you moving forward and how can we be of support?
You can expect more #BlackExcellence from me. In the near future I’m working to be in a position where I can directly offer career opportunities to people of color. Any form of support is welcome! Although, I don’t always have a lot of free time for meet ups I love connecting…From a hey girl hey, to an email to a tweet. I’d like to pose this question to the readers: What can I do to support you? A goal of mine is to shift some of my attention away from myself and make room and time to support other women’s initiatives.
In the end, how do you want your story depicted? What legacy do you hope to leave behind?
I want to leave a legacy of leadership. I want people to remember me as a woman who didn’t wait for things to be handed to her but instead went after what she wanted (with God’s help of course). I want to be remembered as a gracious, giving, encouraging and true person. I’m still writing my story, so I’ll have to get back to you on that one Gab!
Just for kicks:
Erykah or Lauryn?
Ms. Lauryn Hill! I still have the poster my mom brought back for me from her Miseducation tour.
ASATT, Lemonade, or 4:44?
Blog or Podcast?
Podcast. This is how I listen to my church sermons. So necessary.
Photos: Jasmine Diane