Pamela Norton Shelpuk
- Co-Founder of Liberti
- Driver of Change
Tell us about Liberti!
Liberti is a socially responsible company that creates exquisite, handmade jewelry skillfully crafted by refugee women now living in the US, who have escaped various forms of persecution to create a better life for themselves and their families.
How did the idea for your job/ business come about?
I began as a volunteer several years ago to help resettled refugees assimilate with their new lives in Colorado. I then connected with my friend Molly who is an amazing jewelry designer and we both shared a passion for helping others. We also share thesame belief that America is still a land of opportunity for those willing to work for it. Together, we wanted to create a sociallyresponsible company that gave its participants a hand up. We wanted something that would empower the forgotten people of thiscountry to help transform their lives socially as well as economically. After nine months of soul searching, exhausting research and countless cups of Starbucks later, we learned something that reallyhit home for us. Every year over 75,000 refugees leave their homelands and legally obtain a place for themselves and theirfamilies in our country. Immediately, these newcomers are thrust into a new culture, a new way of life, newfound rights, and likely anew language. Often it is the women of these families, who from years of living in fear and persecution, struggle with integratinginto American society and become forgotten souls living right in our own communities
What is your backstory (how did you get to where you are today)?
Over the past 25 years, I have had the unique experience and ability as a marketer to work with some of the best known companies in the world, including United Airlines, AT&T, Delta Airlines, IBM and American Express. Over my career I have had the opportunity tolaunch an internet services company and two different strategicbranding agencies.But all of these experiences left me longing for a new way to engage today's consumers. Over 8 years ago I noticed achange in how consumers were relating with brands. Product, price, placementand promotion were no longer enough to remain relevant in the evolvingmarketplace. The idea of “purpose” needed to be engrained into the core of a company and its brand's proposition if they wanted to reach their goals andachieve greater profitability. It was this notion of adding purpose to a brand'sintegrated marketing strategyand engaging and listening to customers throughsocial media channels that gave birth to our agency called “Activate.” It is from this experience that I saw a need with our work with refugees to build a company that could provide a living wage and a share in the profits. I received my BS in International Business from Regis College in Denver and spentseveral years studying international relations at Sophia University in Japan, and I was so fortunate to have traveled around the world which has given me such an appreciation and interest in cultures from all over the world.
What motivates you?
Giving a voice and power to the voiceless in our country.
What is your super power?
My mind is constantly coming up with new products and ideas to market. I love helping people launch their dreams and get their products to market. I am blessed to have an amazing network of incredibly talented friends and colleagues that I love to share and help connect to empower other women.
How do you protect (and give back to) your community?
We saw an opportunity to help empower these women with a social business that would provide a living wage and offer a chance forthem to share in the profits. Our goal is not only to make beautiful, handcrafted jewelry that transforms the lives of resettled refugees,but also to create a community and sustainable business that supports our country's newest members. Our hope is that the Libertimovement will help to inspire more social ventures here in the U.S. and expand opportunities for all refugees. We want them to be freeto live the American dream that we were so blessed to be born into.
Who is your supporting cast of characters that help you to be so darn crush worthy?
My hubby Dave Shelpuk, Molly Hamilton, Cara Dingenthal, Lindsey Laurain, Carrie Odberg, Gay Pontius, Steven Chavez, Nicole Gamp, Amy Claire Wild, Barb Jones, Betsy Mordecai, Jill Repella, my FERG team, my children, family and Mochi my golden retriever who is so darn crush worthy and loving!
What do you consider to be your theme or "pump-up" song?
I believe I can fly! R Kelly "If I can see it, then I can do it ,If I just believe it, there's nothing to it,I believe I can fly,I believe I can touch the sky,I think about it every night and day,Spread my wings and fly away.I believe I can soar,I see me running through that open door,I believe I can fly!"
What is the most difficult part about being an self employed/entrepreneur?
Somedays you feel so alone and that your ideas are just plain crazy. I have found that you have face your fears everyday and never give into thinking you cannot be successful. Surround yourself with positive people who can help keep you on track.
Who do you have a crush on?
Laura Love - Founder of GroundFloor Media @loveGFM. I have known Laura for over 14 years and I have watched and worked alongside her team over these years and she has created one of the best company cultures I have ever experienced. Laura is the queen of culture and empowering all of her employees to be the best they can truly be. They dedicate at least 10% of GFM's work to nonprofit clients and pro bono accounts, and she also recently launched GFM's new private foundation.