Shelby Blondell: Serial Entrepreneur
With just a guitar, a sketchbook and a pen, Shelby Blondell, B.S. '15, a candidate for the University of Baltimore MBA, is setting herself up to be the founder of a future empire based on creative abilities and highly personalized impulses. This gutsy young entrepreneur, a native of Linthicum, Md., and the daughter of a family with a successful event-planning business, embodies the UBalt ethos of "self-starter, but with some great help."
Blondell received her undergraduate degree in business entrepreneurship from the University's Merrick School of Business. Throughout her undergraduate career, and continuing today, she pursued her career as a singer/songwriter, performing throughout the area and even in concerts on campus. While making money through music is never easy (she currently has a hit song in the European indie charts), Blondell was going for it. At the same time, she was plunging into her graduate degree and helping out the family business.
Her sheer dedication showed during a student trip to Ghana in early 2017: While she was extremely busy meeting local entrepreneurs in the capital city Accra, plus interacting with her professor and fellow students, she continued to work on event projects back home through her mobile phone.
It's safe to say that Blondell knows to keep her eyes open for opportunities.
Take the memorable evening when she was out with her family for a dinner of Maryland crabs. With a smile, she watched her parents passing back and forth the assortment of tools necessary to enjoy crabs—a hammer, a knife, a pick, the occasional fork, not to mention the bottle opener necessary to keep up with the liquid refreshments.
"There's a lot to a crab," she says.
Skilled though most crab-lovers are, the implements can make it an awkward experience. That night, Blondell got an idea—a hot one. She told her parents that they needed to hurry up for home, so she could sketch out a new, better tool for enjoying one of Maryland's favorite foods.
Her drawings led to a product: the Sheller, now in production and ready for sale in Blondell's Facebook store. Blondell's determination, in combination with her entrepreneurial skills, brought her to the right people to help her design and manufacture the tool, all in less than six months.
Now, with a patent in the wings, the stainless steel all-in-one tool, including a hammer, bottle opener and shelling blade, is ready to take on the biggest, most intimidating crab.
Blondell plans to offer customized etching on the Sheller, making it an ideal wedding party gift, a donor premium, or a giveaway in recognition of a group achievement. The tool is produced in the U.S., and set up in a way to simplify its customization.
"The Maryland flag looks great on the side," she says.
Blondell credits her UBalt professors, fellow students and the staff with encouraging her throughout her journey, from her growth in the classroom to her celebratory "why not?" attitude about taking on new ventures with a profit in mind. Hard working, determined, focused—Blondell arrived at UBalt with all of these qualities in abundance. But now, as she begins to step out into the world of small business and big dreams, she is happy to have the UBalt community by her side.
"I'm excited to see where all of this is going," she says, "excited and proud."