Tammy Nelson

Founder & CEO, key2Bme

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always been inspired by the power of words and motivational quotes so I set out to create a simple product that could use words to spread happiness and kindness.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur and how did you overcome them?

My education and experience are in marketing and sales so those parts of the business came naturally. On the other hand, I have very little experience in legal matters, finance/accounting and manufacturing, so those were the biggest challenges I encountered. For help in these areas I networked with others for advice, enlisted free help from SCORE, took classes on and, where still needed, hired experts to help.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Network and never give up! Networking is the very best way to get help with roadblocks. Very often, others have been through the same challenges and can send you in the right direction. That said, you will hit roadblocks along the way. Just work through them one at a time and you will get where you want to go. It’s easy to look down the road and see so many obstacles ahead and get discouraged but if you focus on just one at a time it will keep you focused and moving in the right direction.

What three traits define you?

People tell me I’m driven, inspiring and kind.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?

WBENC provides many opportunities for networking which has been a big key to my success. Utilizing the WBENC logo also gives credibility to my business and helps open doors.

What do you love about being a business owner?

Because our products are inspiring, it is very uplifting work! I love getting messages from our customers about how our products helped them achieve an important goal, lifted their spirits during a challenging time or simply brought them joy!

What’s the hardest part about being a business owner?

Balancing it all – my full-time job, my family and running my own business – but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Balancing it all is the most challenging part but it also gives me balance to have each one of these roles in my life.

What’s your favorite career moment?

I have many favorite moments from the philanthropic work we have done through key2Bme but the highlight has to be when an organization we support, SuperYOU FUNdation, used keys we donated at a “ripple ceremony” on the Nile River in Uganda. At the ceremony, educators threw pebbles into the Nile to symbolically represent the ripples they would be making all over the world as a result of their collective work on educational reform and then were given one of our “HERO” keys to serve as a daily reminder that they were the ones that were called to make it happen. When I started this business, I hoped it would have a positive impact on people but never dreamed the keys would make a “ripple” all the way in Africa!

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

Haha! I don’t sleep! Or at least not very much. If I had more time, though, I would read more. I enjoy it and learn so much from reading but really struggle to fit a lot of reading into my schedule.

What are you reading or listening to right now?

An easy, uplifting read! “Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me” by Lin-Manuel Miranda

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A dancer. I was all set to go to college to study dance until my senior year of high school when I took a marketing class and fell in love.

Fill in the blank:

When I face a challenge, I... focus only on solving the one challenge at hand, trying not to get distracted by other challenges that might be on the horizon.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself... get moving one step at a time right away – don’t let the big picture scare you from taking action now.

The one thing I couldn’t live without is… my favorite productivity tools – ToDoist and Evernote.

By this time next year, I will be… selling a super-exciting new product (currently in development) in full swing!

The best thing that happened to me last week was… having some time off to spend with family.

To get my creative juices flowing, I… like to brainstorm with others to bounce ideas back and forth – building on each one to make them even better.


We create gifts that use the power of words to inspire happiness and spread kindness. Each of our products is designed to serve as a daily reminder that we hold the key to our happiness.

Learn more.