CEO and entrepreneur Michelle Schenck looks back at her 14-year-old self and can barely believe how far she has come from being an innocent high school girl who got pregnant and rejected by almost everyone around her. What was a scary season in her life was made even more difficult by the negativity that surrounded her. Knowing that she needed to support her child, however, she pushed herself to work several jobs.
She forced herself to finish high school while working at the same time at the Salvation Army. Before she turned 15, she was already working at McDonald’s, earning $3.35 per hour. She almost got fired when an aunt of one of her friends reported her for lying about her age. Eventually, she got a call from the manager who happily told her she could stay and keep her job.
Despite her challenging and hurtful past, Michelle has successfully written three books that are available on Amazon, owns her own mascot company, runs her own perfume line, and shoe line as well. Instead of letting all the negative criticism bring her down, she chose to use them to fuel her dreams to become somebody great.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I went through physical and emotional hardships, such as poverty, verbal abuse complications of pregnancy, depression, drugs and alcohol use. I was always the talk in the house, neighborhood, and friends who I thought were loyal. They were dogging me out, calling me a whore, or I didn’t know who my baby’s father was. I was hearing so much negativity. My baby’s father told everyone I was slow and his family started to tell people the same thing. So what I learned was to hold my head up, no matter what people have to say.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I go beyond in their quest for customer satisfaction. My business stands out from the crowd as well. All my employees are very silly. They love dancing, they have fun while doing their job, and they are very people-orientated. I’m that one who does all the cooking for family gatherings, cookouts, baby showers, and holidays. I go beyond what is expected for my customers and family. I also check in with a personal phone call or email to make sure customers are happy with my service.
So how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
I feel energized when I help others share their ideas and discover the joy of helping others. I feel happy when I find the right balance between work and relaxation, when I can take care of myself. Feeling at peace with myself and excited by my work may seem a modest form of success, but I am letting go of the past and I’m where I want to be in life.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I’m always on the rise and on the lookout to connect with and learn from creative women who have cultivated their own amazing brand, business, and name for themselves. To support them and learn. Don’t worry about others or what they think. Keep your head above the sky. Anything you want to achieve or think, you can do or have.
Michelle’s other notable work experiences include working in Taco Bell, Burger King, a nursing home, Coca-Cola, a cook in schools, crossing guard, and the police department doing detective work. At some point, she also tried out being a seamstress. When it comes to working, Michelle never backs down from any opportunity that could help support her family.
She attended Temple College for 2 years, and she is very proud of it. She now has six children after finally getting married in 2005. Four of her six children have already finished school, and two of them are certified nursing assistants. One of her children is now into building maintenance. At present, she is making time to help children as a counselor. Michelle Schenck is committed to showing the world that the past does not define a person’s future.