Professional STAR is an organization of professionals and students who are engaged in trades, arts, and research. It aims to empower the community through self-growth, professional development, continuous education and life-long learning, mentorship, leadership, relationship-building, equality, inclusivity, promotion of positive change and innovation.
Lead Correspondent and Writer:
International Director for Corporate Communications – Professional STAR
John Mark Galiza
President 2020 – NAIT Philippines Students Association
Organizer and Corporate Planning and Strategy – Professional STAR
All of us have childhood dreams, but not many of us dare to become what we dreamt ourselves to be. Shelvie Marie Fernan, a successful Filipina entrepreneur in Edmonton, proves that with passion and perseverance, and living to realize a childhood dream will make our dreams come true. Shelvie’s success in business makes Cinderella’s song real:
“A dream is a wish your heart makes…Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”
Shelvie Fernan, one of the co-founders of Fly and Fetch, planted and cultivated her dreams in Iligan City, a province in the southern part of the Philippines. At a very young age, she experienced a dramatic change in her life, which caused her to spend her childhood years with her mom’s sister, whom she called “mommy” before she moved to Canada. Although she did not quite spend her childhood around her biological parents, she felt blessed to have been raised by a very supportive second set of parents who reared her in a strict, religious upbringing. The young Shelvie knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur even as she sold “yema,” one of the most delectable Filipino treats and some other creative pieces she made to her classmates and friends.
Even if Shelvie’s second parents were supportive, they did not want her to become an entrepreneur. As conservative Filipino parents, their dream for their children was for them to finish a course that will help their kids get a high-paying job, working in a company. Moreover, her adoptive parents saw no point in pursuing a business course since they do not own any business. She ended up taking the Electronics and Communications Engineering program, instead of a business or an entrepreneurship program that she very much wanted. Even if she took a different program, she did not forget her love for business. She also realized that technology could provide her with the tools and opportunities to set up her business. Before coming to Canada, she recognized the opportunity of helping the people in her province who could not get affordable, fashionable clothes. In Iligan City, clothes were costly because of the limited supply. Her love for the arts and fashion drove her to put up an e-commerce business that sold stylish but affordable clothing in response to the problem in her community.
This success that she was gaining from her online business was cut short when her biological parents urged her to immigrate with them to Canada. She was not able to finish the engineering program because her family decided to move to a new country. Because she had already experienced some success back in the Philippines, she was reluctant at first to comply with this life-changing decision. With the encouragement of her two sets of parents, and because she is a natural risk-taker and a positive thinker, Shelvie took that leap of faith. Eventually, she realized that becoming a resident in a different country and adapting to the new are not obstacles, but opportunities and stepping stones for her to reach her goals.
When she came to Canada, she took a business program because she wanted to pursue a business related to fashion. She was then thinking of employing women in the Philippines to create clothes that she could import to Canada. Even though her education was not instrumental in fulfilling her plans of having an online fashion business and since said business did not push through due to the high cost of importing the products, she still enjoyed and fell in love with her studies. Before she finished her studies, she had a baby and was thinking of discontinuing her education. She applied for a few jobs and had a lot of interviews, but she knew that taking any of the jobs was not right for her, and it was not what she truly wanted. According to her, “I felt that I’m getting less than what I deserve. I felt like I can do better, and if I take any of those jobs, I won’t be able to reach my full potential.” She eventually decided to push through and finish her degree with flying colours while going through her pregnancy and then rearing her son.
Before graduation, Shelvie was offered a technology-related job where she was exposed to technology and where she created connections with other technopreneurs who inspired her. She worked for this company for a year. During this time, she experienced how technology empowers the future, and saw how everything undergoes digital transformation. This experience made her decide that if she was going to have a business, it should be related to technology. Along the way, Shelvie crossed paths with Victoria, who eventually became the co-founder of Fly & Fetch.
After she quit her job, Shelvie was so eager to start a business. She thought of setting up a company that sells earring collections. She wanted this business because she thought that it would express who she is. She even went as far as asking help from friends in the Philippines who could potentially become her supplier. As Victoria questioned her ideas, they both came to realize that the earrings business that Shelvie thought of was not feasible because of the expense of importing. To solve this problem, Shelvie had the idea that she would just find individuals who would fly to the Philippines and come back to Canada. She could let them carry a couple of kilograms of earrings and pay them about 50 dollars in exchange for shipping the earrings from the Philippines to Canada. Both of them realized that this idea of connecting people to provide an affordable shipping and delivery service is a great business opportunity. From this idea, Fly & Fetch was born.
Considering the successes she has achieved as a young entrepreneur, Shelvie never forgot to look back. She continues to recognize her past experiences and acknowledge the people who raised, trained and mentored her. She recognizes those who provided her with knowledge, who instilled values in her and who guided her. In the same way, she knew the importance of paying it forward. Because of her success as a young entrepreneur, Shelvie is now part of the Professional STAR as the Director for Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment. Through this organization, she is now engaged in mentoring activities for students, young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs who also dream of being successful. Through these endeavours, she continues to show true leadership by reaching out, inspiring passion in others, and guiding them to reach their dreams. Furthermore, Shelvie also gives back by providing individuals with access to basic supplies such as medicine and food in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic through Fly & Fetch. Through Fly & Fetch’s contactless delivery, individuals and families around Edmonton who are under national quarantine or self-isolation can connect with “fetchers” who can pick up grocery items for them for free.
Shelvie’s success with Fly & Fetch was never easy, nor was it free. Throughout her journey to success, she experienced failures and rejections. According to Shelvie,
“If it’s easy, it’s not worth it. To be successful at anything in life, you have to make certain sacrifices. I have always envisioned what I wanted to be 5, 15, and 20 years from the moment I started business school. So, I dedicated myself to becoming who I want to be, the CEO of a successful company. I was very busy, I worked 3 part-time jobs, I had full-time classes, and I would always take every opportunity to learn. I was always ready by 6 AM and I would arrive home by 10 PM. The biggest sacrifice is time with friends, family, and self-love. I learned later on that successful people need to balance their time too.”
These experiences that Shelvie journeyed through taught her and moulded her to have the character and the beliefs needed to be a successful entrepreneur. One of them is having the confidence to take the challenge. When her parents urged her to take the engineering program, she took it as a challenge, and she was confident and smart enough to learn how an engineer’s brain works. During her school years, she was also trained to be competitive, to endure the hardships, and to go above and beyond when dealing with challenges. This training honed her to become competitive and disciplined, not just to make their business survive, but also to make the business a forerunner in its field. Most of all, Shelvie believes in keeping the dream alive through courage, determination, persistence, dedication and focus. Because of these qualities and traits that Shelvie acquired, she continuously makes her dreams come true as she paves the way and encourages others to be successful in following their childhood dreams too.