The Story Behind Shelby Leigh Designs


Life Crisis

​In November of 2016, I had a complete meltdown about what I was going to do with my life. I was 21 years old going to school at William Carey University, playing on the women's soccer team, and studying biology. I was at a place where I hated what I was learning and had absolutely no interest in it. My whole college career I had always put my education on the back-burner. I made good grades, but I was never invested in what I was learning, because I was 100% invested in soccer. I was approaching my last year playing collegiate soccer when it finally hit me: "I can't play soccer forever." I realized in that moment that I had to figure out what in the world I was going to do with my life.

I started trying to think of jobs that I might enjoy doing. I realized that I didn't enjoy doing much besides playing soccer, but I didn't really want to be a coach. I was studying biology, but I didn't want to do anything related to biology. The only other thing that I thought I might enjoy doing was interior design. They didn't have that major at William Carey, and I didn't want to transfer schools, because I was about to start my senior season of soccer. Unsure of what to do next, I went and talked to an awesome adviser, Mr. Bonner, and he showed me some classes that I could take that would transfer and go to towards a degree in interior design. After that, my plan was to take all the classes I could, finish soccer, and then transfer to a school that had interior design.

My Start as an Artist

I started my first art classes that next trimester. I hadn't had an art class since I was in 6th grade. I loved to draw when I was younger, but as I got older, I began to think I couldn't draw as well as my friends, got self-conscious and basically just stopped all together. I was super nervous going into these classes, but I couldn't have found a better art department to walk into. All the professors were warm and inviting, they didn't focus of the skill of drawing, but rather on teaching what art is. Not long after my first class, I was completely invested in the art program at William Carey, and I had no plans to transfer to get my degree in interior design. I was going to get my Bachelors of Fine Art from William Carey.

An Idea

In May of 2017, I participated in my first art show at William Carey. I had a painting and a print I knew I wanted to show, but I had another idea. I wanted to make a couple of pillows to show. I ran this idea by my professors, and they were so skeptical. They told me to make them and bring them in, but if they weren't up to par, they were not going to let me put them in the show. I just went for it. I brought some fabric and some acrylic paint, got out my mom's sewing machine (I had no idea how to sew) and got to work. It took me all day to make 2 pillows, but I got them done, and they looked pretty cute! My professors agreed to let me show them in the art show as "soft sculpture." There was something about creating on media other than paper or canvas. Designing of fabric was something that I personally resonated with. It was familiar to me, unlike paper or canvas, because fabric is something used to decorate, and I have always been interested in decorating (hence why I want to be an interior designer).