Women on the Move is a series that amplifies women to talk about their success stories. Every month, an individual or group of women share an empowered voice for those who have places to go and goals to accomplish.
For the February 2020 Edition, I spoke with a young woman who wasn’t afraid to turn her passion for gardening into a business. Having started a career from scratch, this woman on the move proves that with hard work you can achieve anything.
Nina Shirley, 25, is the owner and founder of The Dirt Academy, where she provides step-by-step video training and worksheets to help clients design their own custom organic gardens.
“I started getting hired to build gardens in people's backyards,” Shirley said. “I loved the satisfaction of being able to work for myself and create my own business.”
Shirley explained she had a difficult time earning respect as a young woman in the agriculture and farming industry because of how uncommon it was for a woman to be in a leadership position.
“The first farm I ever worked on, I kept up,” Shirley said. “I did what I had to do to push myself to harvest as many pounds of fruits and vegetables as the guys were.”
According to Shirley, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, the effort is what people recognize. She said that following your intuition will guide you to the most fulfilling work, which ultimately is the most successful work.
Years ago, Shirley had a client with a daughter battling cancer, so The Dirt Academy planted vegetables that were high in anthocyanins, which are cancer-fighting antioxidants.
“Her garden was different from my others because we were growing food specifically for their family to fight against cancer,” Shirley said. “I felt like we were part of the treatment plan.”
Shirley admits that she wouldn’t have described The Dirt Academy as a career she would've wanted if someone asked her six years ago.
“The dream job kind of snuck up on me, but I love that it’s found me,” Shirley said.
“Sometimes it takes a season of rest and peace to really focus on what you really want and how to get there.”
Shirley rejects the idea that you have to risk it all in order to have a successful business. The best way to find success is by figuring out a way to work with what you’re already doing.
“You don’t have to quit everything in your life to start your own business,” Shirley said. “You can just start at 10%, then go to 15%, then you can finally shift half of your time on your passion or business.”
For Shirley, being a woman on the move is being unafraid to fill a role that may not be conventional for a female. But in June, Shirley will be filling another new and more typical but just as scary role as a mother to her baby girl.
“I’m growing a woman on the move,” Shirley said. “I'm excited to raise her to be confident and strong.”
Growing everything from vegetables to a baby, Shirley continues to inspire us as our Woman on the Move for the month of February.
By Jessie Dez