Shavannia Williams, Heels and Hearts, The Story ExchangeYour Name: Shavannia Williams

Business Name: Heels & Helmets, a service to educating and exposing women to different sports

Type of Business: Coaching & Consulting, Marketing & PR

Business Location: Washington D.C., United States

Twitter   @HeelsandHelmets

Reason for starting
“I don’t play golf. I don’t go the men’s room. I didn’t have the ability to network the way men do. But I made myself visible.” -Jill Barad, former CEO of Mattel Source: Wall Street Journal (1997) After several conversations with female attorneys and lobbyists regarding football analogies used in business, I identified the need to educate women on sports for professional development. In January 2010, I launched a blog titled Heels & Helmets and offered “football for business” workshops. My objective was to help ladies join the conversation at the office by educating professional women about football and explaining business analogies related to the game. Building on my experience working for sports teams in the NBA, NFL, NHL, I turned my blog into a business to help women incorporate sports into their business toolbox. Heels & Helmets levels the professional playing field by educating and exposing women to sports. Our mission is to achieve gender equality in the workplace by breaking down existing communication barriers. We utilize sports philosophies to build confidence in professional women, and strengthen their relationship building and leadership skills. We accomplish our objectives through workshops, sports clinics, events and a sports and lifestyle e-magazine. provides news and explanations of today’s leading sports topics to give women a sense of confidence to engage men in the workplace. Readers also find lifestyle resources for themselves and their families including business, events, fashion, fitness, nutrition and youth sports. Heels & Helmets concentrates on three objectives: 1. Providing opportunities for women to grow and achieve their professional and personal goals through sports knowledge. 2. Developing marketing strategies for consumer brands and companies to authentically reach women. 3. Magnifying the reach and financial resources of nonprofit organizations focused on women and youth. Heels & Helmets is needed because:

1. Only 14.1% of corporate officers in Fortune 500 companies are women.
• Men continue to DOMINATE the boardroom.

2. Language and cultural barriers cause miscommunication, which negatively impacts an organization’s effectiveness. Men tend to reference sport analogies in business conversations and many women do not understand the context.
• Men and women COMMUNICATE differently.

3. Building a rapport with team members and clients is key to professional success. Men build relationships through sporting events that women often feel excluded from.
• Women must learn to effectively INCORPORATE sports in business.

How do you define success?
Success is not limiting yourself, conquering your fears and giving your absolute best to achieve your goals.

Biggest Success
My success is the feedback that I receive from clients. “Relationships are key in business. Heels & Helmets’ Football for Business Workshop and Golf Clinic provided our clients with some tools to strengthen their relationships with their male counterparts. The presentation is fun, interactive and clearly outlines how the information can be used to explain business strategies.” Samira Cook-Gaines – Director, DC Women’s Business Center “Heels & Helmets’ Football for Business gave me an increased understanding of the game of football – in a way that was fun and relatable to the work I do each day. It was a great team building exercise.” Jessica Badger – Manager, Learning and Conferencing, United Way Worldwide “Great event! I connected with some wonderful women and loved my new pictures. As a new mom of twins this was invaluable for my self-esteem. Thank you!” Attendee, Football Glam Party

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My top challenge is recruiting talent and funding. I have addressed this by offering college credit to interns, working with independent contractors on projects, hiring a commission based sales team and partnering with other small business.

Who is your most important role model?
I do not have one important role model. I admire trailblazers and people who persevere. Steve Jobs, Lesley Visser and Oprah Winfrey are some of my role models.