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Kelly McNelis is the founder of Women for One, an online platform for women to share their stories and help them to claim their power and make life happen on their own terms.  She just published Your Messy Brilliance, a set of customizable tools, on how to overcome perfectionism and inauthentic standards and instead create a happy, joyful life.  At the end of her book signing at Union Square in New York City earlier this month, bSmart member Amanda Sannella and I had the chance to sit down and chat with Kelly.  Having read about Kelly’s journey and her book on how to find happiness without (unattainable) perfection, we were excited to speak with her in person.

Purchase your copy of 'Your Messy Brilliance' here!

In her book, Kelly talks about messiness.  When Kelly defined ‘messiness’ for us, it became clear that she's far from advocating for a second-rate happiness or accepting anything less than one’s best and most joyful life.  She said, ‘I define messiness as the full totality of who you are: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This is not about being lazy but it is about giving ourselves a break.’  By giving women permission to have flaws, Kelly hopes to encourage them to accept everything about themselves, including traumatic experiences and pain they may have lived through, in order to build a happy, more fulfilling life.

Prior to writing her book, Kelly founded Women for One, a platform on which anyone can submit their story.  Kelly shared that it’s especially important to her that no submission is ever rejected unless it's entirely ‘negative and nasty.’  An editor will help polish the submitted story, making Women for One a great place to practice self-expression, regardless of how well someone writes.  Kelly said it’s not about someone’s writing expertise but instead, ‘it’s about finding that tribe and that community of women who are sharing their experiences.’  

In addition to submitting a story, there are several courses available to women.  Courses include a free seven-day class to make a positive life happen using the tools Kelly introduces in her book.  For a fee, Women for One offers what Kelly calls their 30-day ‘anti-cleanse’ to embrace messiness.  A deeper course called ‘Truthteller: A Course for Boldly Claiming Your Story’ offers the opportunity to dive deeper into helping women to find their voices and claim their stories, whether they are traumatic or joyful.  Thus, Kelly’s platform lets you pick the amount of opening up and sharing you feel ready to do.  

Women for One is a thriving community: Kelly repeatedly greeted audience members who are members of her platform.  During the Q&A, it turns out that a number of women she’d only known online had come to the reading to meet her in person.  The mutual joy of seeing members meet each other and share a hug made us feel warm and welcomed.

When asked about the role mentorship played in her life, Kelly shared with us that she thinks of everyone she can learn from as a mentor in her life: "I don’t do this 'I’m wiser and I’m older BS' at all."  For Kelly, it’s about the quality of the person and the values, not age or expertise.  She likes to think of mentors as heroes that she can learn certain qualities from.  The people who are part of her tribe, her support system, are who she looks to for mentorship because having a mentor is all about organic relationships that are loving and supportive.


Having a mentor is all about organic relationships that are loving and supportive.


We were especially impressed that Kelly turned her passion project into a career, so we asked her how she made it happen.  Kelly explained that while she had some funds to start with, Women for One now makes money through the online courses offered and her speaking engagements, workshops, and personal transformation work in small groups.  While loving the work she currently does, Kelly is already thinking of the next step.  She wants to become a chef once Women for One is ready to thrive without her.  At the end of our conversation, we asked Kelly what advice she would give her younger self: ‘I wish I had stepped into my passion and joy earlier in life.  Follow your dreams early.’  

Meeting Kelly in person was inspirational and fun (and exciting for us because she was our first interview!).  Kelly emanates a joy that is a pleasure to be around.  Amanda and I left inspired and feeling the warmth and energy Kelly is sending into the world.  If you want to read her book Your Messy Brilliance head over to the bSmart stream to participate in a giveaway for a signed copy, and if you want to join her community visit Women for One, or attend one of Kelly’s events, so you can embrace your messy brilliance too.


Angelina Eimannsberger is a recent graduate of New York University with an MA degree in Contemporary Literature, Gender Politics, and American Culture. She is bSmart’s director of community and EIC of the online magazine Indulgence.


  1.   November 29, 2017
  2.   Lifestyle
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