We’re so excited to introduce you to some of our mentors in this new series of posts, starting with Tanya from Girl Shaped Flames. It’s been incredible to watch Tanya build this beautiful business and offer such inspiring and empowering events for teen girls. Enjoy learning a little more about her below:

Where were you 5 years ago and what were you doing?

5 years ago I was Head of Production at a feature film company in Sydney, juggling 3 x films across 4 continents. Not yet married, not yet a mum, and with absolutely NO ambitions to run my own business!


Would you mind sharing your “Why” with us?

I generally find it hard to articulate my ‘Why’, as I think of it as less ’this is why I exist’ and more of ‘what can I offer people that’s unique to me?’

Ok, that sounds horribly 21st Century marketing jargon (berg!) but what I mean is, one day I was thinking about what people often get out of knowing me, whether personally or professionally, and it’s usually inspiration mixed with a bit of pragmatic guidance. I was brought up to be brave and push my boundaries and try my best (and be proud to do so!) and it’s seen me through an exciting, challenging, rewarding and adventurous life. People often respond to this with a bit of ‘how do you do it?!’

When I dug deeper into ‘how did I get this way’, I traced a lot of it back to my teen years, during which I was really supported and encouraged to try lots of different things, meet new people and essentially figure out ‘who I was’ before I headed out into the big (scary!) world.

So when it came to where I felt I could make the best impact, working with teens girls and providing them opportunities to also push their boundaries and build a clearer understanding of themselves and their capabilities felt like exactly the right place to start.


What made you decide to do the Youth Mentor Training?

I discovered Amanda, SFW and all of the great things the company does about 6 months before I started FUEL, but I still wasn’t sure *what* exactly I was going to do/pursue. It wasn’t until I’d been running events for girls, schools and parents for about 8 months that I reached out to Amanda for a coffee and a chat and revealed how worried I was that I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to work with this generation of girls.

Cut-to 3 hours later (!) and she’d not only done an amazing job assuring me of my right to make an impact in their lives, but I was signed up to the great Youth Mentor Training to step through more honed training around considerations and techniques to work with this audience.



 What do you love most about working with young people?

Being in the presence of such amazing potential. A person’s potential is a really powerful thing, and to be there while they discover it, harness it, develop it and apply it is just an incredible feeling and such an honour to be a part of.


What would you say to someone who was considering doing what you do and working with young people?

The working with young people bit is amazing, BUT, you have to go into it respecting that they are each already their own people. They aren’t blank slates that you’re going to go in and ’shape’.  They’re not open to you imparting your own ‘life lessons’ onto (especially not lecture ‘I know best, I was a teen once!’ type of a way!)

They want to draw from you anything that will help them as an individual, here and now, and then hopefully a bit in the future.

As for the business side of things, yikes it’s hard. Not just hard work (I’m an over-achiever by nature) but hard emotionally, financially, on your relationships etc. It’s really hard and I wish I’d understood that side of things better before I leapt into it.


What are you offering for teens at the moment and in 2019?

In 2019 we’re working with teens in 2 main ways:

1) Through our 2019 Girl Shaped Flames program – an events-based program that connects girls with Extraordinary Women across industries through workshops, meet-ups and Company Excursions (https://girlshapedflames.com)

2) Through our Camp Courage camps. We’re piloting the first of these in Brisbane (July) and Nth QLD (Sept) with a view to take them national in 2020. (https://girlshapedflames.com/camp-courage)


What 3 things would you say to parents of teens who might be considering your programs?

1) Regarding the Girl Shaped Flames 2019 program: the girls don’t have to come to *everything*! There will be over 40 events throughout the year included in the registration fee, and while I do encourage them to come regularly and to topics/industries that they aren’t necessarily drawn to (so they can broaden their knowledge of the world) they by no means have to be expected to attend everything. We appreciate the girls’ schedules are pretty full!

2) Regarding the Camp Courage camps – these are not dare-devil, Physical Courage camps. Ky Furneaux (Hollywood Stunt Artist and Survival Expert) will be running a classroom-based workshop on ‘Fear’ as well as a self-defence class, but the rest of the camp focuses on developing greater understanding and opinions on what it means to be courageous Socially, Intellectually, Morally, Emotionally and in your Purpose.  Areas that can all get pretty muddy in the teen years as they are figuring themselves out as people.

3) And for those with beautiful Introverted teen daughters, please know that FUEL Girl Shaped Flames is not designed *just* for extroverts, or for high-achievers (which is sometimes the way ’strong/bold’ brands are perceived). We have already had a surprisingly high number of wonderful introverted girls report back amazing things about their FUEL experiences and pride ourselves on inclusivity and the opportunity for girls to participate actively as much or as little as they feel comfortable with.


Where can we find you?

FUEL Girl Shaped Flames website. 

Email: tanya@girlshapedflames.com

@girlshapedflames on Insta & FB

Want to work with teens too?

Learn about our Youth Mentor Training here

You can also read about 6 people who have built thriving businesses in the youth space in our free eBook here.