Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

Shannon Cohen for the Passion To Profit Series
Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

Kristyn Meyer is on a journey to make herself the best human that she can be. These posts are a reflection of that. She welcomes your support via reading and through commissioned affiliate links within her posts! As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. To stay up to date on all of her shenanigans, please subscribe to her email list! (psst…there’s a free gift involved)

I recently had the opportunity to interview Shannon Cohen, founder of Tough Skin, Soft Heart. I met Shannon years ago through the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s fellowship program, but hadn’t had a chance to reconnect since our time together. In a span of five short years, Shannon has done tremendous things. And all of it has stemmed from her internal passion. She took a simple idea and turned it into a profitable empire for herself, her family and her community – which includes a devoted tribe that she has amassed throughout the years. Shannon went from a simple blog for herself and immediate family to now having a published book, podcast, community events, speaking engagements and branded products, which include greeting cards and journals. I was itching to sit and talk with her about her success and how she got to this point.

Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

A Human In Training: What propelled you to start Tough Skin, Soft Heart?

Shannon Cohen: I think the year 2014 was such an interesting year. I went on maternity leave, applied for the fellowship program. It was also a culminating year for me as I realized I was high functioning in my career. I had just won 40 Under 40. I was also doing contract work for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. It would have looked like #winning, but I was emotionally on E. I just kept thinking: “Is this it? Is this what it means? It this the price of success? Am I the only one who feels this way?” So what do you do with the woman who is used to going at the speed of light and is on maternity leave? You start a blog!

I did the blog for three years, writing about what I was navigating through behind my smile, my title and my roles. It started to revolve around learning I had surrounding the type of tough skin that you need in leadership where you don’t let the tough stuff get you bitter and cold. That’s really how things emerged. At first it was only my mom and husband who read it (they had to because I was postpartum) and then it grew to about 2,000 subscribers in the first year. After that I started to get invitations to speak at different engagements for companies and started traveling and speaking all over.

AHIT: Were your intentions for it to be profitable from the start?

SC: Not at all. Then, all the bloggers I had seen were the ones that had something to say and weren’t waiting for others to say it. That or fashion bloggers. I hadn’t seen anyone who blogged about anything different.  

Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

AHIT: How did you take your passion to profit after you realized you could? How did you choose the specific products and services?

SC: It has been an ever-evolving space and it continues to evolve. I recently did a timeline of our story over the past five years to see the trends and what I have learned. There were always people that were reading my blog, but then I came across a woman who told me she both read my blog all the time and would read my posts outloud to the workers of her company. I was like: “I don’t know whether to be flattered or send you an invoice!” There was one part of me thinking this is such a blessing but another part realizing that I’m leaving money on the table because I have something of value here.

Following that, I started paying attention to analytics and saw that this is something I can do really well. I saw what opportunities there were to do it and profit from it. I think because I did so much for free in the beginning I have a large following. Recently I sold out 54 days before the event for a branded brunch I put on, I could have done a venue that held twice the amount of people that I did. Now I look back and I see that I tapped into some connection economy principle and created a family environment. So now when I launch stuff people are ready.

Just recently, my husband took my son to an event and a woman approached him and said: “You don’t know me, but I know you and I’m part of your wife’s tribe.” That really blessed me, now I am at a point that there are more people that are part of my work, or that follow or are connected to it that I haven’t met. And it took three years of just being consistent month after month. The first time I spoke at an event I was paid a $10 Walgreens gift card. Recently I did one and was paid several thousands of dollars. 

AHIT: Why greeting cards and journals?

SC: I think with the greeting cards it’s just because it’s something I love. When I first started I had a whole hustler mentality and tried to sell everything. Then I actually took a business class because I knew I needed to figure the whole thing out. It helped me realize that I need to focus on what I did well, and what I did well was with words. It was who I was as a human being and it was an industry I could participate in since there are a lot of indy sellers that do greeting cards. For me, it was an industry where I felt that I could grow and learn, could do what I wanted to on my own terms. 

Passion To Profit: Shannon Cohen

AHIT: Out of everything, what’s the best part for you personally in running Tough Skin, Soft Heart?

SC: So I think it goes back to something similar to what you said, that you’re doing what you need to do. That you are exactly where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to do. And there’s nothing like that. There’s nothing quite like being in that place. Unapologetically so, Tough Skin, Strong Heart is the perfect blend of my talent and abilities and stretches me even to this day in what it can become. Because of that I feel like I’m bringing the best of me to work always and in all ways. And also, it’s something I’ve been able to involve my son in. I love that I am able to be with him and I enjoy doing these things with him. He learns from what I do, and I know that will shape and impact his future.

AHIT: What advice do you have for other people who wish to expand on their passion?

SC: The one thing I would honestly say that I have done in the past year that has brought unprecedented growth for the business is to believe and invest in the possibility of you. When this year started, I said that this was the year to do that. I think a lot of us are socialized to believe in ourselves but did not get a lot of direction for investing in ourselves. What does it look like to believe and invest? I think that is where the magic happens. 

Check Shannon out at and listen in for new podcast episodes every Wednesday!

“Believe and invest in the possibility of you.”

Shannon Cohen

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