Leadership, Cultivation and Faith: Interview With Ariel Shaw
Meet Ariel Shaw, an award-winning businesswoman with a remarkable background in government, politics, and business. As the founder of multiple ventures and initiatives, including the Southern Crescent Women In Business Inc., Ariel is dedicated to providing foundational support for women-owned businesses in the Southern Crescent. From political victories to founding the first Women’s Business Center on the Southside of Atlanta, Ariel has left an indelible mark on Georgia and the Carolinas.
Endorsed by U.S. Congressman David Scott and recognized for her community literacy work, Ariel is not just a business leader but a catalyst for positive change. Her commitment to empowering women extends to mentoring young girls through programs like Young Women of Excellence and STEM Extension. Ariel’s extensive community involvement, numerous awards, and features in prestigious publications reflect her impact and leadership.
As she shapes her community in various roles, including Chair of The City of Stockbridge Citywide Development Authority, Ariel remains steadfast in her commitment to service. In this article, we delve into what makes Ariel, Ariel, her brand’s role in cultivating female empowerment, thoughts on eliminating prejudices, and the achievements she holds dearest. Ariel shares insights into her personal journey, the importance of embracing individuality, and the guiding quotes that inspire her. Join us as we explore the life-changing moments in Ariel’s journey, her contributions to the community, and her future endeavors.
Discover how she balances the roles of a mother, businesswoman, and community leader while constantly evolving and making a significant impact. Ariel also provides valuable advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs, drawing from her experiences as a woman of color in leadership.
What makes Ariel, Ariel?
Ariel: Interesting question. What makes Ariel, Ariel is my tenacious and very persistent approach to life. I was blessed to be raised with a strong foundation of faith, resiliency, and service. I come from a very strong line of bold, audacious, and powerful women, who truly believe that not even the sky is the limit. I was blessed to inherit this spirit and it is how I move through this world.
How does your brand or what you do cultivate female empowerment?
Ariel: I have established a brand under Southern Crescent Women In Business that supports women in business and women business owners. We support each other through networking, supporting each other’s businesses, highlighting the female owned businesses. Our organic format automatically translates into female empowerment by supporting, encouraging, and providing each woman who is a part of our organization the tools they need to be successful and confident within their own brand.
In your opinion, how can we as a culture work together to banish prejudices and social clichés?
Ariel: I do not get caught up on trying to eliminate social cliches and prejudices, as some wish to dwell in their ignorance. I was raised to live your life as an example to others and to establish a legacy that your grandkids could be proud of. If we all took that approach, and added some kindness and empathy to that, society would be a better place.
What are some things you are most proud of?
Ariel: Most may think it is about the many accolades or career achievements, but I am most proud of the human that I have an opportunity to shape daily, my daughter. My daughter embodies my legacy, and I am most hopeful that she becomes a contributing, kind, and resilient citizen. Second, I am proud of the key items that I have created in the community which have impacted many. Whether it’s the thousands of books that we have placed in the hands of our youth through Real Leaders Read Initiative with our community partners, or the exposure that we provided to our middle school girls in our STEM program, or one of the many woman-owned businesses that we have assisted and elevated through Southern Crescent Women In Business, or one of the many policies that I have impacted through various boards that I have had the opportunity to serve on.
Why is it important to embrace who you are?
Ariel: It is important to embrace who we are individually because we all have a part to play in this universe. My DNA is different than your DNA and we all bring something very unique to bring to the table. I am pleased that you asked this question in this society of copycats. I pray that we all sit with our creator long enough to understand our individual purpose and what we are charged with contributing to this world.
What is your quote to live by? Why?
Ariel: I cannot say I live by one quote. However, I refer to several scriptures often and they include Psalms 23:5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…” and Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you…. plans to prosper you and not to harm you…” Why? Because my faith comes from source, God…and because I operate with a spirit of strong discernment, which is a gift and a curse, because I can always tell everything about a person even if they are saying something opposite.
Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of?
Ariel: Again, the contribution and achievement that I am most proud of are those items mentioned above. However, I am grateful for the many proclamations, Congressional Commendations, Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, Outstanding Citizen of Georgia, and a host of other recognitions. I am excited that I have literally birthed the support of women in business in the region of The Southern Crescent, when no other organization or chamber would even touch it. Now it’s a thing.
What has been life changing about your journey?
Ariel: Having a family is truly life changing. Why? Because you must consider what can you do to ensure that this world is better for the family that you will one day leave behind. That is a tall order.
What have you been up to and what can we look forward to seeing from you?
Ariel: I am constantly evolving as a woman, as a businesswoman, as a mother, as a community leader. As I view my lens through impact, I am constantly re-evaluating what needs to stay, what needs to go, and where can we grow. I would say look forward to more key items from me that come from a place of significant impact.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Ariel: I would just like to remind your readers that we all have something unique to offer this world. Comparison is the thief of joy and it stifles your own creativity. I encourage everyone to spend less time scrolling and more time creating and working on their projects as the world needs what they have to offer.
Do you have any upcoming events and/or projects you are involved in?
Ariel: I am getting ready for our final event of the year, our Chairwoman Luncheon, which focuses on rebuilding and refreshing our women in order to finish the year strong and to give them the energy to begin the coming year off strong. For the upcoming 2024 year, I am looking at ensuring we keep things fresh with the events that we have done for the past 4 to 5 years.
As a woman of color in leadership, what are three things an aspiring female entrepreneur should know?
Ariel: As a woman of color in leadership, I first realize that I am unique as I live a different and unique experience as a woman of color. Leadership is not synonymous with entrepreneurship. However, I believe that a woman who is seeking to be a female entrepreneur, there are a few things that they should keep in mind. First, I operate as a business and I do not lead with color. You must understand your target market and if that product or service that you provide transcends race and even gender, you must understand that. Second, you must surround yourself with likeminded individuals as entrepreneurship is not easy and is 85% mentality, therefore a negative mindset will lead to failure. Third, you must understand your industry thoroughly, so that you operate in a spirit of excellence and confidence. If you operate confidently with sound business practices and a great product or service, you can take up space in any arena or industry, as a woman of color.
Keep up to date with Ariel Shaw @iamarielshaw as she continues to lead with determination, resilience, and a passion for empowering women in business.