Shana Renee Stephenson is a phenom of a woman who is just as passionate about sports as she is her fashion.
Standing at just 5 feet, Shana Renee is a power-force who is making great strides in the world of sports. Though sports are often seen as a male-dominated industry, Renee knows how to make her presence known. Be it through her impeccable sense of style or her kinky-curly natural hair, Shana stands out.
Reaching out to the brains behind AllSportsEverything.com, "a New York sports-centric site with a range of lifestyle, news, & other relevant content," Shana Renee gives us a home-court advantage and an instant reply on beauty, business, and being a BOSS.
My hometown is Harlem, USA, but I attended Spelman College, garnering a degree in Psychology with a focus in Business, and New York University, obtaining an MS in Sports Business.
Why an interest in my major choice while attending Spelman? When I entered Spelman, I was actually a Chemistry major with a concentration in Pre-Med. The classes were a lot more challenging than I anticipated, and it reflected in my grades. To restore my GPA (and pride), I changed my major and focus entirely. I received a degree in Psychology with a focus in business. The new plan was to get a job as a consultant or work in finance, but after taking some fashion electives my senior year in undergrad, I switched focuses again and decided to pursue a career in fashion – merchandising, styling, or marketing.
I fell in love with the game of sports in the '90s. My older brother played football through college. Attending his games was how my family bonded throughout his football career. Also, I'm a big daddy's girl. When I was in junior high school, we'd go to the basketball court every Saturday, and he'd teach me all about the game. It also helped that the Knicks and Michigan's Fab Five were running things during that time. I quickly and easily attached myself to those teams and became a lifelong fan of both.
Working in sports marketing and touching the fashion industry: Like most young girls, I thought it would be sexy to work in fashion, so I did. Right out of college, I worked as a personal shopper at Armani, interned at an NYC boutique agency that specialized in fashion and beauty clients, and also assisted celebrity fashion designer Mara Hoffman before she became the uber-successful designer she is today. While I loved working with Mara, unfortunately, the job didn't pay well. I was still living with my parents at the time and wanted to earn a real salary that allowed me to move out on my own. I eventually transitioned to corporate America. About four years into that journey, I decided that I wanted a career in sports. All of my life, sports was something that I enjoyed, and it came so naturally to me that I never considered it could be a lucrative career choice. But my family and friends recognized how much of a sports fanatic I was, and they continued to encourage me to pursue another career change. After deciding to study Sports Business at NYU part-time, I eventually landed a job at ESPN, and the rest is history!
Though the title is self-explanatory, All Sports Everything is a blog I created five years ago (at the time of this interview) to just vent about my teams – the New York Jets, Knicks, and Yankees. Also, given my background in sports marketing and fashion, I also wanted to include that in the scope. To be honest, I didn't expect anyone to read anything I posted. I looked at my blog as an online diary and a collection of personal thoughts. But, as I wrote with more frequency, the feedback was very positive, so I continued to write more, and here we are!
From a woman's perspective, at the time of launching, there was a need for All Sports Everything. Absolutely, and I think there's still a need for female sports enthusiasts to share their perspectives on sports. The truth is, I'm not as rare of a breed that people think. I've connected with so many women who share a similar passion for sports, which is fantastic. But, because they don't have a major outlet that caters to them, they're not truly represented. Four years ago, I started an all-female fantasy football league. The first season included 10 women. This past season, I had four separate leagues and almost 50 women participated. Each year the demand increases, and that's truly exciting for me! There's something genuinely inspiring and badass about a group of women talking fantasy football trash to each other on a weekly basis. It's dope!
Being a Black woman that is in a white male-prevalent society, there are some challenges as well as hurdles. I interviewed for an on-camera position with a local team two years in a row. Met with at least eight senior executives within the organization – one woman, and the rest were white men. One common question I received was how comfortable I'd be traveling with the players or entering the locker room, etc. I did my best to relay my experience and professionalism in those settings but didn't get the job, only to later learn, that in both cases, white men were hired for the role I interviewed for at the time. I'm not one to play the race card, but it's hard not to in a case like that. But because I'm grounded in faith, I try not to overthink certain outcomes that don't "work in my favor." Why? "Because I know what's for me is for me, and God's plan is the best plan.
Shana Renee's presence, fashion, and femininity bring a certain je ne sais quoi in a male-dominated industry.
She is opening the minds of young girls who may want to follow in the same footsteps. ... While being admired for my style is cool, more than anything, I want to impress upon young women the importance of remaining true [to your]self. I'm a short, dark brown, kinky natural-haired girl. I recognize that not many people look like me on TV, but I won't allow myself to conform to gain acceptance. So, when I meet with young women of any race, I stress the importance of doing the work so well that it'll be impossible for them to overlook you.
There are stereotypes when it comes to women and sports in a male-dominated field that has to be tackled. Oh, goodness, where do I begin? The most common stereotype is that women are less informed or knowledgeable than their male counterparts, which is just an ignorant, sexist, and old way of thinking. Another stereotype is that women are only interested in working in sports because they want to date/marry athletes. I represented a male athlete and used to travel with him. Fans always assumed I was his girlfriend, and I had to set them straight and make it clear that our relationship was strictly business. It drove me nuts! And lastly, people are always shocked that I'm so feminine. Although I can talk Xs and Os with the guys, I'm still a girly girl with a NY street appeal. I can go from rocking Timbs and Chucks one minute to Loubs the next. That type of versatility isn't uncommon, or unique to me, but most people think it is.
An opportunity arises to co-develop a sports business curriculum for the Business of Sports School (BOSS) in Manhattan. One of my former ESPN colleagues and NYU classmates was an educator at the BOSS (Business of Sports School) in Manhattan. He invited me to speak to the students about my career. It went so well that he invited me back the following year to co-teach, and co-develop that semester's curriculum. Inspired by the BOSS students, that later evolved into Rising Young Sports Executives (RYSE), a curriculum I designed to hip high school students to career possibilities beyond the bounds of the playing field. The syllabus touched on topics such as sports marketing, contract negotiations, endorsement deals, and much more. I've partnered with NYC youth organizations to implement that program.
Just do it!, is what I would like to tell future girls who would like to venture into working in sports. Everyone wants to point out how underrepresented we are and use that as a reason not to pursue a career in sports. But I've always looked at the lack of representation as an opportunity, not a challenge.
There are a couple of things that are on the rise for me. My overall goal is to become a sports multi-media personality that includes TV, radio, and web. I recently launched a sports podcast, "All Sports Everything Radio," which I record live every Monday at 3PM/ET. I'd like to build a following and eventually land a radio gig somewhere. You can check it out at www.spreaker.com/user/ase_radio. My monthly video series, "UnManning the Game TV," where I interview women in the sports industry who are busting up the all boys' club -- is another major focus of mine. I love interviewing women in the industry and sharing their journeys because it's very empowering and necessary for encouraging more diversity in the industry. The long-term goal of that series is to get it picked up by a network or web channel. I'm also hoping to return to the classroom this summer. I've evolved my RYSE program to include a race and gender course in sports, also called "UnManning the Game." The focus of the class is to explore how society imposes specific race and gender stereotypes upon athletes and minorities within sports. And last but not least, continuing to grow my blog by adding some regular contributors to help with content, so I can pay more attention to building the brand as a whole.
In a room full of flats standing out as a stiletto would be my natural hair. I'm only 5'0, lol. Since I'm so petite, it's easy to blend in. But whether my hair is out in a big beautiful full fro, or the shorter tapered cut I'm currently rocking, it helps me stand out in a crowd and get noticed. I love that!
Beauty products I cannot live without is my nail polish. Since I'm always typing as I blog, nothing makes me happier than seeing polished nails click-clack against the keys. I'm also a huge fan of a bold lip. It's an instant mood booster!
Some days can be a bit of a challenge for us all, but we have to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps or dig a bit deeper with our heels to gain ground, but we keep going.
If God brought me to it, he will bring me through it and celebrate the small victories, are the personal motto or mantra that I live by. As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of rough days. It's impossible to hit a home run every time you step up to the plate. As a type-A person, that reality can really weigh on your confidence. Honestly, the thought of getting a "real job" as I like to call it, lol, probably crosses my mind at least once a week because that's how challenging things are. But then, I'll get a phone call, a random email or text, or a stranger will leave a positive and encouraging comment on an Instagram photo, and suddenly I'm back in the game! I don't take those kind words for granted, because I know it's God's way of telling me to keep going.
... I'm actually getting a little bored and am contemplating another change, but to keep my mane in tack, I get it professionally cut at Devachan Salon in NYC's SOHO neighborhood, once, no more than twice a year. Color too. I have type 4 something (not sure if it's A/B/C) hair, but I notice that wash-n-go's work best for my hair when it's shorter. The minute it starts growing out, like now, I have to resort to twist-outs, which I prefer because it gives me the fullness that I prefer. Depending on what I have going on, I wash and twist it once a week and let it do it's thing until it's way out of control!
To see women who are in the playing field and breaking barriers is a win for us all.
Follow Shana Renee on social media at:
- Twitter/Instagram: @ItsShanaRenee
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/itsshanarenee
- Facebook: Facebook.com/AllSportsEverythingBlog