- Words by Angela Cowan Photography by Lia Crowe
Founder and president of Vancouver-based PR firm SMC Communications, Shelley McArthur Everett is celebrating 10 successful years with her company this year, but she’s been in the communications industry for much, much longer than that.
It was a conversation in her early teens that put her on the path she’s still following.
“My father was also an entrepreneur, and he taught me to work for the position you want—not the one you have—at a very young age, and to set lofty goals and be steadfast in your journey to get to where you want to be,” she says. “My early interest in PR started with a conversation between him and me about possible career paths. We wrote out the skills I was excelling in and that I enjoyed the most, and he then recommended public relations as a career.”
Once she’d learned more about the details of the job, it immediately resonated. Sadly, Shelley’s father passed away when she was 16, but his early mentorship stuck with her, and she worked to put herself through school and to find opportunities for growth.
Shelley served as communications director for Toptable Group for a number of years and prior to that was an integral part of the team that led the Wheels in Motion fundraising campaign for the Rick Hansen Foundation. But when her first child was born, Shelley found she needed a change.
“I had a rewarding career in hospitality communications, but…I needed to find something more flexible and that would allow me to work less than 60-plus hours per week,” she says. “Now as an entrepreneur, I am always on, although at least I have some semblance of it being on my own terms.”
Having lived in the Lower Mainland all her life, Shelley now has offices in Vancouver and Toronto with SMC Communications, and is just as passionate about her work as when she first started.
“I love working with our clients to uncover the unique qualities that make them special, and then bringing those to light through creative communications,” she says. “Seeing a client’s story come to light in print is always such a thrill, even 10 years in.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
I’m constantly in awe of successful women who also happen to be mothers, and seem to balance it all with ease—Arlene Dickinson, Joanna Griffiths, Jacinda Ardern and Shonda Rhimes, to name a few. These leaders are paving the way for the next generation of girls and women to show that we no longer have to choose between motherhood and a fulfilling career.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
Any food that is prepared with passion and intention. It can be a street taco in Mexico or a tasting menu from a three-star Michelin restaurant. As long as there’s heart that goes into it, I’m excited for the experience and the story behind it.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
Though I’d be tempted to invest the money into my home, I would use it to purchase a vacation property in the Okanagan Valley. Having my own place to escape to in one of the most exciting wine regions in the world would be a dream.
Apathy. I invest a lot of myself into everything I do. I’ve had to work hard and without a safety net from an early age, so I have high expectations for myself and for those around me.
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
Los Cabos, Mexico, enjoying fresh ceviche, with a spicy mescal margarita in hand. This special place holds so many personal memories and milestones for me. We have spent enough time there now that we’ve gotten to know the hidden gems and consider it our “home away from home.”
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
I’ve had my sights set on a career in public relations since I was 14 years old. Despite a few bumps in the road, I’ve never lost sight of where I wanted to go, or how far, while being resolute in my journey to get to where I am. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
What makes your heart beat faster?
There’s nothing I take greater joy in than bringing people together over food. My husband and I are avid cooks and love to entertain. It gives me goose bumps to look around a beautifully set table, joined by my husband and our two children, and be surrounded by family and friends sharing a sense of togetherness over a meal.