In the Spotlight: Celeste Shepherd, ICFTN Assistant

Celeste Shepherd1 - Where are you from, and how did you choose to live in Middle Tennessee?

I’m actually a native Nashvillian! Well, almost… I was born in London, England and moved to Tennessee with my parents at age 2. After college, I moved to Austin, Texas for a number of years, but when my son was born in 2007, the desire to return home to Nashville was too strong to resist.

2 - What is your professional background?

Prior to starting Celebelle, I spent the majority of my professional life as a C-Suite Executive Assistant and Administrative Manager for family run businesses. When I lived in Texas, I was fortunate to fall in with and work for a serial entrepreneur who owned a commercial paint company, 5 restaurants/bars, and a large parcel of real estate in the Riviera Maya in Mexico upon which he built an ecological subdivision. Working as his Administrative Manager for 13 years allowed me to hone my administrative skills across a broad range of industries as well as pick up a number of complementary skills such as graphic design, event planning, employee management, and bookkeeping. And, needless to say, the variety of tasks that fell on my plate on a daily basis perfectly prepared me to juggle the demands of my own business.

3 - How did you choose your specialty area and how did you end up working with ICFTN?

I started Celebelle in 2010 with the aim of providing top notch administrative and creative support to other entrepreneurs and small businesses. It’s been fantastic! Nashville is such a great place for entrepreneurs and there are so many opportunities to connect with possible clients and in turn make referrals. The thing I love about the Celebelle business model is that most of our clients are able to utilize multiple services. They may start as a creative client and then add on admin or vice versa. Some clients are project driven and some, like ICFTN, are daily. The main thing is finding the right fit and doing our best to provide great service. I ended up working with ICFTN because I had done some work with former ICFTN president Terry Humphrey and she recommended me to the board to help manage the needs of the membership. That was 5 years ago! It’s been a great collaboration and it’s been lovely to see ICFTN grow over these past years.

4 - What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your career?

A challenge and benefit of this type of work is the variety of tasks that need to be completed each day. On the benefit side, it’s never boring – my days fly by and I’m constantly learning new things. But, it is a lot of hopping around from client to client, task to task – keeping everyone’s work moving forward… the challenge is working efficiently and not letting anything drop through the cracks. Sometimes multiple clients have deadlines that stack up together and then its crunch time! Fortunately, everyone we work with is so kind and appreciative of our work that on the occasions when we run behind, they are always understanding. My greatest reward is hearing “that’s perfect” or “it’s just what we wanted”. Exceeding people’s expectations is one of my biggest motivators.

5 - What is something that most ICFTN members would be surprised to learn about you?

I think my retirement career will be as a genealogist. I love family history (mine and other people’s) and really enjoy the challenge of puzzling together family trees and stories. Celebelle did a family history book for a client once and it was so fulfilling to organize, edit, and create a printed book for them to hand out to all their relatives. I’m my family’s unofficial historian and someday I hope to have the time to really dig in further. And if I could get paid for it ... even better!

6 - How do you enjoy spending your free time?

When the weather is nice, I love to play tennis and get outside. When it’s cold or rainy you’ll find me curled up with a book, binge watching Netflix, or generally snuggled up.