Today we’d like to introduce you to Shelby Rideout.
Hi Shelby, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a dual major in Elementary Education and Special Education with an endorsement in Deaf Education. After graduation, I moved to NYC to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an actress. In order to pay my bills while also maintaining a flexible schedule conducive for auditions, I began privately tutoring children ages K-8. When the actor’s union, SAG, went on strike I decided to go back to school to earn another degree in Sign Language Interpreting. For the next 10 years, I worked consistently as a model/actress, sign language interpreter, and private tutor. In 2010, my husband and I adopted our first child. While living in Ethiopia waiting for my daughter’s and my visa’s I discovered that I was pregnant with our first son. Becoming a mom was my biggest dream and I just loved every moment spent with my first 2 babies. I began making home movies for them that combined all of my passions, early education, sign language, entertainment, and confident happy children! When I was making dinner or grabbing a moment for an all too rare shower, I would put on my homemade educational videos to entertain and engage my children. Both children began communicating with me through sign language and, to many people’s amazement, they began reading before the age of two! Friends and family began asking how they could get a copy of my videos so their children could experience these same benefits. This was the beginning of Bright Signs Learning LLC. Hiring a professional crew, my original home videos became the prototypes for the 4-video series that hit the market in 2015. Bright Signs Learning aims to inspire children ages 6months-age 4 with the desire to read through a first-of-its-kind, multi-sensory program that incorporates sign language and gesturing with early reading concepts. The 4-video series, activities, original characters, and visual aids are designed to build skills critical to reading, including letter identification, word recognition, sight retention, and communication all while keeping children engaged and entertained. With a mission to bring the joys of learning to as many children as possible, Bright Signs Learning was adapted into an app in 2020 which enables the videos to be viewed digitally.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
When we began selling Bright Signs Learning in 2015, it was sold as a set that included 4 DVDs, and 3 flashcard sets (numbers, Letters, and words/images). We sold the set on Amazon and amassed great reviews and feedback. However, technology is ever-changing and new computers were no longer being sold with a disc drives and DVDs were becoming more obsolete as streaming and digital options became more popular. As a company, we needed to make a decision: would we spend funds to manufacture more DVD kits or make a major shift and invest in converting Bright Signs Learning into a digital format. We chose the latter, and in the summer of 2020 Bright Signs Learning became a digital app. While this was exciting for many reasons including the new technology, the ability to reach an international audience, and a significant cost reduction in the product, this also brought its own set of challenges. When the Bright Signs Learning app was launched it was also in the midst of the pandemic. While this was an ideal time for at-home learning options- people can’t buy an app if they aren’t even aware it exists. Each selling platform has its own set of rules, algorithms, and marketing strategies. Shifting from being Amazon sellers to selling an app was a whole new world that would require dedicated time to understand and utilize. Meanwhile, at this same time, I was homeschooling (with my own custom curriculum) 4 children in 4 different grade levels and planning a move across country. Needless to say, life was busy and hectic. As a result, I have struggled with how to optimize this new selling platform.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I worked as an actress/model for over 20 years in NYC and Los Angeles tutored gifted & special needs children for over 20 years, and was a sign language interpreter for over 10 years. I am very aware that many people aren’t able to identify what their passion is, or if they do, they aren’t able to make their passion their job. I was not only able to identify 3 passions- educating children, sign language, and entertainment, but I was also lucky enough to combine these 3 passions into Bright Signs Learning and make it my job. I am known as someone who has a genuine passion for children. As we continue to settle here in Tennessee I am once again seeking opportunities for myself to educate and enhance the lives of children. I have completed the paperwork to begin substitute teaching at the local elementary school, started tutoring an autistic girl in sign language, and have plans to do more regular volunteering in the special needs space. These hands-on experiences connect me with my genuine passion and original motivation for creating Bright Signs Learning. It is only after these hands-on experiences in the community that I feel motivated to sit behind a computer and do the necessary, but less creative, work that is essential for any business to succeed. I have a folder of messages I have received over the years from parents expressing their gratitude for the Bright Signs Learning program. A mom of an autistic girl reached out to thank me for my program saying that on really hard days, Bright Sign Learning was the only thing that was able to calm her daughter. I am proud of messages like that. To have positively impacted the life of a child is my greatest joy.
What matters most to you?
My family matters the most to me. Being a mom to 4 children is a dream come true. And by extension to be a positive, safe, encouraging person to any child is a privilege.
- Bright Signs Learning app $4.99
- available on Apple Store and Google Play
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.brightsignslearning.com
- Instagram: @brightsignsabc
- Facebook: Bright Signs Learning
- Twitter: @brightsignsabc
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/BrightsignslearningABC