Michelle Blue was always a planner.
But after doing a corporate internship following her freshman year at the University of Georgia, she felt uninspired and reevaluated the blueprint she had laid out for her life.
“No plan is definitive, so you have to learn that as life throws you different things, you have to be able to flow with it and adjust accordingly,” says Blue BBA ’13. Since then, Blue has found inspiration in enjoying the journey rather than following a rigid plan.
The summer following her sophomore year, she headed to Ghana on a fashion merchandising and social work study abroad program with UGA. There, the group visited an organization called SISTAWorks, which helps support young Ghanaian women and girls’ education. Inspired by their stories, Blue wanted to be a catalyst for change.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in marketing and a minor in fashion merchandising, she co-founded Bené, a luxury scarf company based in Atlanta that partners with SISTAWorks. “With each scarf we sew, we sponsor tuition, books, supplies, and uniforms for the girls to continue their education,” she says. Since starting the company, Blue and her co-founder have been able to return to Ghana and see students that they supported graduate.
Blue’s dedication to social entrepreneurship has grown since then. In 2017, she released The Journey With Blue, an online talk show and community on YouTube and its namesake website on which entrepreneurs from all walks of life share their stories. The series urges would-be entrepreneurs to enjoy the process of starting a business rather than singularly obsessing over the end result.
Blue hopes to foster a community of entrepreneurs built around “sharing those transparent stories of the journey, the lessons, the sacrifices, the failures along the way, and finding the beauty in it all,” she explains.
This past summer Blue rolled out another program, Millionaire Mentors Mastermind, where business owners tune into a group video call for advice from millionaire entrepreneurs. The participants learn habits of success and the essential mindset needed in order to expand their ideas of what is possible for their businesses and for themselves. “Sometimes, it just takes seeing it to know that it is possible and in reach for you, too,” she says.
Since that disappointing internship changed her life, Blue doesn’t allow failures to keep her down. It’s a philosophy she tries to share with anyone who will listen. “If you let every mistake and every bump in the road keep you from your dreams. How bad do you really want it?”