This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Kelly Van Nelson – Author, Poet & Speaker
2019 AusMumpreneur Big Idea (Changing The World) Award, Gold winner
Kelly Van Nelson is the bestselling author of Graffiti Lane: A Poetry Collection and is represented by The Newman Literary Agency. Her short stories, non-fiction articles, and poems have featured in numerous international publications. She is the recipient of a KSP First Edition Fellowship funded by the Western Australian Government and is a prominent antibullying, domestic violence prevention, and mental health awareness advocate, leveraging the power of the spoken, written, and visual word to drive change in the world. In the spare time that she doesn’t have, you will find her hanging out on the open mic around Australia, performing poetry about social issues to raise cross-genre conversation amongst teens and adults. Those who know her well will vouch for the fact she is an outspoken Geordie who loves to eat British Monster Munch crisps as a distraction from her insomnia.
Tell us the story behind why you love what you do and why you’re so passionate about sharing your message.
As a child, my love of books was intense. I read under the duvet every night with a torch until the early hours to escape reality and I knew I wanted to be a writer from a young age. Now I use the written, spoken, and visual word to raise awareness and drive change around issues that matter. I create ripple effects using unusual methods and channels to cascade my message, from kinetic typography and short poetry movies, to slamming out poems on the open mic. Being able to amplify my voice in this way to speak for others who are silently suffering at the mercy of bullies and violence is my way of giving back to the community.
Tell us a story about a challenging time you faced, how you overcame it and what lesson/lessons/wisdom this experience has taught you about life and business.
As a child, I lived in a bleak council estate in an inner-city concrete jungle in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. My father passed away in his forties and I had a turbulent relationship with my mother whom I am now estranged from. In high school, the situation was equally unbearable. I was bullied over a long period of time by a group of girls, so I developed steely resilience from a young age. At the age of eighteen, I bought a one-way ticket to London and not long after that I moved to South Africa and married my husband there. Violent crime was prevalent. Both my brother-in-law’s have been held up at gunpoint in separate incidents. Mental health decline can be inevitable in these types of situations and my primary goal is to helping others find the power of resilience within themselves in the face of adversity. Life throws you curve balls and can kick you down. Finding ways to pick yourself up again after a setback is vital in life. It’s the same in business. Facing obstacles head on and turning challenges into opportunities will go a long way towards keeping you motivated during the storms until the sun comes out again.
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give someone starting out in business?
1. Only you can spread your wings and fly. When starting your business, there are others with expertise you can leverage, but ultimately, it’s imperative you find the vision and purpose yourself first to then build and execute on a plan that will drive the outcomes you desire. It starts with you and if you apply an ethos of work hard, apply resilience and never give up, the possibilities are endless.
2. Running a company is like riding a rollercoaster, with non-stop high points and gut-wrenching lows. The ride is on a loop which is the normal cycle of business. Strap in for the ride and use adrenaline and passion for what you do as fuel.
3. Know your self-worth and don’t undersell your product or service. Customers buy from people they like who confidently back themselves and their business. They will return when you deliver on your promise. If you exceed expectations, they will tell their friends which is advocacy worth its weight in gold. You’ve got this.
What is your proudest business achievement? Why does this mean so much to you?
I established my literary brand this year, launching with the release of my contemporary poetry book, Graffiti Lane. It became a number one bestseller, reaching a wide audience of teens and adults with urban gritty poems about bullying, domestic violence, and suicide. Topping the book charts was a surreal moment. Author events I now host bring people together who have been suffering from bullying. One child I met was suicidal from being physically bullied and has since found solace in my poems. Another used one of my antibullying poems in school homework.
The extensive media coverage of my business raises awareness on social issues. I’ve been filmed for Today Tonight discussing cyberbullying prevention strategies, as well as interviewed by ABC Studios, 2NBC Radio and been given print space in multiple press publications, including Kidspot, Girl, Female, and NowtoLove. The book was recently given to almost 200 TV Logie winners and Channel Nine influencers. This snowballed into a company called Student Edge releasing an article of mine on workplace bullying to over 1.1M students. My business can save a life. This is my purpose.
What’s next for your business?
I recently launched a YouTube channel playing short movies and kinetic typography poems. Taking poetry into visual form is a more unique way to bring the message behind my poems to broader audiences. I love experimenting with different types of literary artform, infusing creative styles to make poetry cool again, breathing life into what can otherwise be simply one-dimensional words on a page. As often as I can, I’m hitting that open mic too, trying my hand at poetry slams. I’ve been inspired by some incredible poets I’ve seen on the stage who own their space and I like to push myself out of comfort zone as much as I can.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
I would roll out a very cool and contemporary antibullying program tailored to be suitable for all ages across primary and secondary schools. Kids don’t want to be told what to do and what not to do. They don’t resonate with a dry lecture about right and wrong. They want to be inspired and motivated to change the world themselves. Evolving the way we educate children about fostering inclusiveness and respect for others so that it tugs at the heartstrings and makes them sit up and want to take action themselves is how we can drive sustainable change around bullying.
Image credit: Alexandra Anderson, Jam on Your Collar
Finally, what do you believe is the secret to success?
It has to be willpower. For me, willpower is the ultimate force to be reckoned with and is the one attribute I consciously apply on a daily basis. It is the inner strength and self-control required to persist and work hard and smart towards tangible short-term and long-term goals. Where willpower is prevalent, decisiveness and assertiveness shine brightly in the face of adversity. It is the critical skill needed to bring energy and stamina to the table when everyone else wants to call it quits. Willpower is the fine line between success and failure. Those successful in business use their failures as stepping stones to improve and learn from, digging deep and applying the willpower necessary to dust off and try again. Willpower makes the impossible possible.
To learn more about Kelly, please visit :-