Compassion and hard work were the ideals that Shellie Levin Graf, Class of 1980, embodied when she founded Elegant Essentials in 1993. Specifically, her purpose has been to help women diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.
Her company now has locations in Medina and Mentor, where she and her nine employees have addressed the physical and emotional needs of tens of thousands of women.
The financial success of Elegant Essentials has never been Shellie’s focus. She absorbed her late mother’s blue collar, Lake County lifestyle ethic and combined it with a special “Pink Ribbon” need and her own selfless nature.
She began her business with no outside financial help or referrals but quickly earned the trust of women facing breast cancer diagnoses. Countless physicians and hospital personnel across northern Ohio have placed their trust in Shellie’s expertise in helping their patients feel confident and whole again, no matter how extensive their cancer treatments may have been.
Shellie started her post-RHS education at Auburn Career Center and Lakeland and then earned board certification as an orthotic & prosthetic fitter. She continued advanced training for upcoming fitting candidates.
Several career steps preceded Shellie’s certification. From ’82 – ‘85, she worked for Brunner Medical Equipment in Mentor, from ‘86 – ’91, she worked as a sales representative for Harris Wholesale selling Statewide Durable Medical Equipment. For five years after that, she served Medic Drug Stores as a director of home health care.
Since founding her company, she and her staff have done presentations and in-services to breast cancer support group meetings and events all over Northeast Ohio. She has traveled through eleven counties in support of ladies “in the fight.” However, her mission has expanded to include women who need emotional or physical support for other reasons also.
Elegant Essentials personnel have participated in and financially supported the “Race with Grace” event, part of the Mary Grace Foundation, since 2005. In addition to working with the Race for the Cure in past years, Shellie was a board member of the Medina County Chapter of the American Cancer Society.
In 2000 she was awarded by the Cleveland Chapter of North American Women Business Owners as one of the area’s “Top 10 Women Business Owners” and attended the NAWBO event in Miami that same year. In 2001 the YWCA named her a “Woman of Excellence” at their gathering in Cleveland.
In 2017, the foundation “Ears to You” chose her as a survivor honoree for working to raise awareness and funds for its mission. Like all of the awards Shellie has received, she was humble in her acceptance and always shifted the attention to the needs of “her special women.” The person who nominated her for the RHS Hall of Fame said, “All Shellie does comes from a loving heart.”
Shellie lives in Medina with her husband Buddy, as do her daughter and son-in-law Lauren and Mario and their two children. Her son Bo and his wife are in Parma.