Shawn La’Vista Robinson Jones is a 1999 graduate of Harding High School and a “Prexy through and through.” While she moved to Arizona in 2010 for a career opportunity, Marion is where her heart is.
“Marion is my forever home. I’ve been in the desert for about 12 years, but it will always be my home. It gave me my foundation,” Jones said.
Jones worked her way up to an executive in the corporate world. In 2014, Jones founded 31 Marketplace, an agency committed to helping female business leaders create balance in their lives.
“I am a small business consultant who works with owners to put systems into place, to fire themselves from things they should not be doing as the CEO of the company,” Jones said. “Additionally, I help them focus on their self-care.”
When she worked in corporate America, Jones experienced significant burnout from subscribing to the “hustle” mindset. She didn’t eat or rest enough, pulling all-nighters and generally not taking care of herself. Jones notes this mindset keeps people from experiencing the freedom they typically had hopes of when starting their own business.
Jones, an author, podcaster, and consultant, wanted to use the lessons she learned to help others thrive.
“I can see where problems lie and assess what’s going on. I was able to hone my skill and sharpen it to become a better consultant to business owners,” said Jones. “I can put things into place that will help them put systems into place and become a better business owner.”
Jones believes the self-care piece is invaluable to small business owners’ success.
“Without my own burnout, I would not have seen the importance of self-care. I know what it’s like to love the work that you do, that you never want to say, ‘No,’” Jones said. “I think as business owners, they see a need in the marketplace and know they’re the answer. There’s a way to love the work that you do without sacrificing yourself to do that,”
While in Marion, Jones was a part of the Grow Your Own program with Kathleen Clemons-Keller.
“I was able to have a full-circle experience as a student, going off to college, then coming back as a mentor and then consultant of the group itself. I saw the importance of representation mattering,” said Jones. “It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I had a black teacher. [I really value] being able to be a part of this group and seeing these kids and taking them to college visits to see people who look like them doing things and experiencing things outside of Marion.”
Jones notes Sister Earlene Hatch is the first person she remembers being an outspoken activist who was not afraid to stand up and say what’s right, even if it was an unpopular opinion. Jones calls her an inspiration. Jones also participated in the Black Heritage Council and NAACP.
Jones has shared Marion with her husband, Stewart, and their son. She has been able to take them to the county fair to see the animals. Jones makes sure to visit the Adkins Dairy Queen on Main Street in Marion every time she is in town for a coney dog. No visit is complete without a trip to the G&R in Waldo like she remembers doing every weekend when she lived here. She loves to sit with her father, Earnest Robinson, on the porch of his home on the West Side.
“When I don’t get to go to those places when I’m in town, I am sad. It’s part of feeling at home,” Jones said. “I love those places and my dad’s house. I can sit on his front porch and see the house my grandmother lived in, my great-grandmother lived in, my uncle and my aunts lived in and had their children in. It’s walking around in my family’s history when I’m home.”