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She's So Savvy - Karen Marie Shelton

Meet Karen Shelton, President/CEO of T&S Software and Hair

Since the age of 15, Karen knew she wanted to run her own start up business. After earning several degrees and working at other startups, she's succeeded with not one, but two emerging companies.

Name, Title, Company: Karen Shelton President/CEO T&S Software Associates Inc.,

karen.jpgalso....... President/CEO Hair

What you do: Just about anything that needs to be done on a daily basis to help both of my companies be successful.

I have two very busy and fast growing companies in completely different business areas--telephony software and hair care. Both companies share one thing in common, they are built on a base that consists of high technology tools and software and are 'Net focused.

Both companies are bootstrapped, self-funded companies that have no venture capital. This is the hardest way to grow companies, but it is also extremely rewarding. I am very proud of the fact that both companies were profitable in their first full year of operation and neither has any debt.

T&S Software Inc., consists of employees who provide professional consulting services in the field of telephony and telecommunications as well as selling a complete software suite (Zeus) of telephony based products (Interactive Voice Response Units, Voice Mail, Unified Messaging, One Number Service, Voice Over IP).

We currently have sold contracts for over many thousands of IVRs (Interactive Voice Response Units) and have formed a major partnership with the hottest new emerging switching company out of the Boston area.

We are doing Voice Over IP work for several major companies and also have consulting contracts with several major corporations in Dallas and throughout the U.S.

By the end of 2000 we launched an online store to sell the telephony-based products to other businesses and consumers.

Hair Boutique was founded in 1997 and consists of both full time employees and lots of part-timers. We provide a website with over 1,000 million pages of content dedicated to providing consumer hair care knowledge and empowerment to people of all ages from kids to adults, both women and men.

We also sell a line of hair care products including hair accessories, books and hair styling videos. At we are consistently upgrading enhanced online store software that will offer lots of additional products designed to help the hair consumer.

Hair Boutique currently has an average of 10,000+ visitors every day and does between 3.5 and 4.5+ million page views a month. We made a profit our first year in business which is unusual for a new web site.

What is your educational background? BA in Sociology and Psychology from University of Missouri; MA in Public Policy/Urban Affairs & Business - St. Louis University. Post grad work in Business at Washington University and St. Louis University

What is the path that you've taken to get you where you are? From the time I was 15 years old and working at three part-time jobs, I wanted to have my own company and have been striving to achieve that goal. I have always focused my life around five-year plans and then worked to achieve my goals, one day at a time.

My college education, especially grad school, helped me develop focus, self-discipline and vision. My first job out of college took a wild turn and I got drafted into working with computers when I originally wanted to work with people. This accident of fate was a blessing and I fell in love with anything computer related. From that point on, I was always open to all possibilities, no matter how strange they might seem.

I always pushed myself to accept challenging positions where I was a little bit in over my head so that I would be forced to either sink or swim. I got into management with this philosophy and it helped me strive to be a successful manager.

"Believe in yourself, be open to all possibilities and have a sense of humor."

Before T&S Software and, I worked at six other startup companies. I saw those experiences as excellent learning opportunities so that one day I could have my own start up. Now I have two.

What advice do you have for others looking to do what you do? Believe in yourself, be open to all possibilities and have a sense of humor. Always treat people with kindness and respect and tell the truth. Build good karma on a daily basis. Give success back to others as much as you can. Always pay attention to everything. Don't be afraid of hard work. Have fun.

What is your favorite tech tip? Use email as if your life depended on it. It does. Build lots of email folders and use it to organize, stay focused and track business. Never go anywhere without your cell phone and notebook, which of course allows you to check your email.

T&S Software has a software product that allows you to store voice mail as email files and listen to your email from a phone. I love this feature and would have to close up shop without email and voice mail.

What are some of the sites you find most helpful or use often? I am addicted to the Red Herring site for startup biz info. Being in telephony, I also hang out at the CTI Magazine web site, Michael Dell is someone I look up to as a self-made business guru (plus he is also from Texas) and so I often check out what Dell is doing at

I also rely heavily on search engines and although I used to hang my hat on Alta Vista at for the best technology search information I converted to Google, Yahoo and MSN over the past several years.

I am also addicted to anything Social Media including MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Digg and LinkedIn.

I admire and respect eBay at, Myria at and iVillage at All of these sites really know how to run a class Web act and I constantly follow their honorable leads.

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Please follow me on Twitter at: I look forward to meeting new people from all walks of Twitter and learning from their Tweets. Visit us at located at:, on Facebook, MySpace and YouTube.

Thank you for visiting us at The HairBoutique Blog and for leaving your comments. They are very much appreciated. We apologize in advance but must remove any direct advertisements or solicitations.

- Revised Publication Date: 03/09/10

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