When I was 11, I decided that my life’s calling was to cut up dead bodies. I’d stumbled across the words ‘Forensic Scientist’ and thought, “well that sounds both awesome and very important. I’ll be one of them. Chantelle Baxter, Forensic Scientist. Excellent!”
In Year 8 Science class we were asked to dissect a dead frog.
Poor little guy.
Was my teacher seriously asking me to chop him up?
I couldn’t do it. So I gave him a name (Fred), and wondered what Fred’s life had been like before he wound up on our science bench.
My science partner had very little respect for the relationship Fred and I had developed, so while I pondered on the meaning of Fred’s existence, she got to work cutting him open and examining his pea sized organs. Poor Fred. I knew then that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for the life of a Forensic Scientist.
These days, I have a much greater interest in helping people rather than cutting them up. But like many of us, the journey to where I am today hasn’t been linear. From Forensic Science to Computer Science to Designer to International Development. What a ride!
If you’d like to read about my Professional Background, click here.
And if you’re looking for a Speaker’s Bio, then this link is your friend.
And if you’re here because you’re reading my blog and wanted to learn a bit more of my personal story, then you should read here.
If you’ve got any questions or queries about speaking events, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com or on my contact page.
I started my first business when I was 9.
Multi-coloured friendship bracelets were the latest craze sweeping my school. They were in high demand and I wanted in.
You remember them don’t you? Just tape 3 strands of wool to a table and then plait them into a nice long strand, and voila! A bracelet.
With no startup capital, I decided to ‘borrow’ the wool I needed from After School Care. My lunch breaks were spent plaiting bracelets with my BFF and sales kicked off behind the playground during recess. At just 10 cents a pop, they were selling like hot cakes. Business was booming – so we made a decision to increase our profit margins by branching into custom orders – for just 20 cents you could choose your own colour combinations.
After a week of sales and almost $10 in profit, we were on top the world. Chests puffed out with pride and easily the richest BFF’s at school.
That was until Mrs. Alfred caught onto our little side racket.
“GIRLS! It’s against the RULES to sell things at school!”
Within minutes, we were forced to donate everything we’d earned to charity. The dream I’d had of purchasing a Little Blonde Linda Doll went down the drain. So at the tender age of 9, my first venture was shut down due to a lack of understanding of business regulatory environments.
But it was my first taste of recognising the power of business and creating products that people want. And I liked it.
Since my short-lived friendship bracelet venture. I’ve moved on to greener pastures.
After studying computer science and web design, I went on to establish a Web Design and Development company. We worked with clients like ANZ, Melbourne University and Melbourne City Council.
After 4 years in the web industry, I moved on to co-founding a non-profit organisation called One Girl.
We believe every girl on the planet has the right to an education, and we’re on a mission to educate 1 million girls across Africa. From our humble beginnings we’ve raised over $2.5 million and we’ve supported the education of more than 10,000 women and girls across Sierra Leone and Uganda.
And this is just the beginning.
You can read more about my current Projects here.
Chantelle is the co-founder and CEO of One Girl – an organisation dedicated to giving 1 million girls across Africa access to education. She believes that finding your purpose is the key to changing the world.
Prior to One Girl, Chantelle studied Computer Science at University and went on to establish Mod Digital, a web design company who worked with clients such as ANZ and Melbourne University.
After a life-changing trip to Sierra Leone in West Africa, Chantelle was struck by the challenges that women and girls face across the world and committed herself to doing something about it (with the hope it would inspire others to do the same). From humble beginnings, One Girl has raised over $2.5 million and supported the education of over 10,000 women and girls across Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Chantelle has been recognized as one of Anthills 30 Under 30 Entrepreneurs (2014, 2012), Mamamia’s Most Clickable Women (2013), Cosmopolitan Magazines 30 Influential Aussie Women Under 30 )(2013) and one of Melbourne’s Top 100 Most Influential People.
The Personal Stuff.
I know what it’s like to be invisible. To be ignored. To be hurt by the people who are meant to care for you and struggle to understand why there is never an apology.
I know what it’s like to be terrified of speaking your truth. Because every time you open your mouth you seem to get deeper into trouble. The relief you feel when you finally say what you mean, rarely outweighs the consequences of doing so.
For me, truth used to mean punishment. It was better to stay quiet.
I know what it’s like to feel like no one is listening. Like you’re screaming at the top of your lungs. But no one can’t hear you – or maybe they don’t want too.
By the time I’d turned 18, my life had been affected by violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse and suicide attempts. I was a pretty messed up kid.
I believed that there was one thing in this world that would ‘fix me’ and make me happy. That thing was money.
So for a long time, I shut myself down. It hurt too much to care, so numb because my default. And with a life that revolved around going to the next party – it wasn’t too difficult to achieve. After some financially successful years where I dabbled in property investment and my first few businesses, I found that ‘money = happiness’ was most certainly not the case.
I believe our lives need meaning beyond financial pursuits. We’re all on a hunt for meaning and purpose. And although I don’t have all the answers, I do consider myself lucky that I’ve found it.
I know that life can deal us some pretty rough hands. I also know that the pain doesn’t have to last forever. I know that people change, that YOU can change and that “hardships can prepare you for an extraordinary destiny”.
When I’ve been at moments of great pain (which often leads to great transformation), I’ve always found a teacher.
Someone who saw my potential. Someone who listened. Someone who believed in me.
And that’s why I do what I do. That’s why I write this blog. That gift that I’ve been given so many times, I want to pass that on. Because I believe you can rise above whatever has happened to you and go on to create extraordinary things. And the world needs you to do that.
So keep going kiddo, you’ve got this.