Friday, February 20, 2015

BOSS Spotlight: Meet The "Inspirational Leader " Kelly Fair


Kelly Fair is founder of Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program serving over 1000  girls 7-17 yrs. old to be effective communicators, and career & community conscious leaders! This work has been supported by a network of 400+ volunteers from the Chicago land community and area businesses such as Bloomingdale's, Microsoft, Thought Works, and Nordstrom's.

The BOSS Network: What were some obstacles that you faced in the beginning process of starting your business or career?
Kelly Fair: In the beginning of my business I had to deal with building my confidence in my ability to produce superior service, and the high quality of the product that I had created.  I doubted if I was good enough, if I had the appropriate leadership skills, or could actually make a living at running a mentoring program.  It took the courage to keep building clients and partnerships and trying new work with different age groups of girls in new neighborhoods to see and trust that we were effective in positively improving the communication skills of girls, and prepping them with skills and experiences for success in the future workplace.

BN: What inspired you to break into your particular industry ?

KF: I was working in corporate America and was managing national marketing for an educational publisher at a pretty young age.  I loved the experience, and exposure.  But, I was yearning for an opportunity to return to more direct service in youth and educational services like I had experienced earlier in my career.  I wanted to be more hands-on in creating solutions and programming to ensure youth in my community had opportunities to develop essential life skills like effective communication.  I'm also passionate about girls finding their voice and being prepared for success, because I was a shy girl when I was in middle school and high school.  I was extremely confident when I was young and in elementary school, but like many girls my self-esteem took a nose dive in sixth grade.  But, I always worked throughout high school and college, and I had dynamic supervisors who mentored me, and helped me develop confidence and necessary skills.  So, I'm a successful product of mentoring and career development.  This is what led me to create our signature mentoring initiatives with our partnering businesses.

BN: How do you balance your personal and professional life or have you been able to find a balance?

KF: I love working out.  I work out at this fabulous gym on the south side of Chicago called 360 Mind Body & Soul owned and operated by a young black woman named Ashanti Johnson.  I do two hours of boot camp every morning from 5 to 7 a.m.  It's a great network of women that support each other in all areas of our lives.  And, it's a great start to my day before 7 a.m. I may have to push myself to achieve some physical feats I didn't think I was capable of.  This is excellent encouragement for overcoming obstacles I face in my daily work running Polished Pebbles

BN: What is an inspirational quote that you live by?

KF:I always like when my minister the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon used to say "Grow we must."  I think it's a constant reminder that no matter what we achieve there is always an opportunity to learn more, and to grow more.  Life is a constant journey that we should be committed to. 

BN: Who were some influential people or mentors that helped or encouraged you along the way?

KF: I've been fortunate since the time that I was 13  that I've always been interested in working. And, since I was thirteen, throughout school and very early in my career, I always had female work supervisors who mentored in every area of life.  Rev. Dr. Linda Shepherd was one of those women, and she taught about honing the ability to build relationships with colleagues, "competitors", community members, and people from all walks of life.  She taught me this requires patience, unconditional love and respect, and it's a key ingredient to success in any industry.

BN: What are your must-haves to keep your career or business going strong?

KF: I'm still a single lady, so I don't have a husband or children yet, but the foundation for my success has been the support of my family, friends, and people in my network.  They have supported my vision from day one through hugs, reassuring my faith, getting their hands dirty and working, writing checks, and most importantly sharing our work with others!  My staff and team are so valuable to me. I work hard at being fair to them, but also creating an environment that they can add to the growth of Polished Pebbles, but make sure that we create opportunities for them to grow their own personal skill sets and port folios to help them move on to the next stage in their careers.  I treat them well, and they treat me with love and undying support in return!

BN: What is your definition of a BOSS?

KF: A BOSS is confident in her self-worth, her skills, and her accomplishments, but understands that being a BOSS involves being a constant student to life.

Connect with Kelly Fair on Twitter @@kfairthementor and to learn more about products and services visit

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