Tell me a little bit about yourself and your passions?
My name is Ashley. I’m a 30 year old mother of 2, wife, and an entrepreneur. I have been in business for myself for the last 10 years but only recently have I felt comfortable calling myself an entrepreneur.
Up until recently, I didn’t know what that word really meant and what it meant to truly be an entrepreneur. It is one of my greatest feelings. In addition to this, I love to be creative in any and every form.
I’m also very passionate about using my talents to open up opportunities for others whether it be in business, philanthropy, or the day to day life of my clients and employees.
So you own three businesses. How do you go about finding time for each?
I do own three businesses and finding a balance is quite hard at times. I’ll admit, I took up going to church to gain some clarity on how to be at peace while I juggle so many things and to my surprise it helped.
Patience is a virtue I am still working on. Having 3 businesses kind of just happened. I started off my career as a hair stylist and saw a need for clients to have a stylist travel to them on their wedding day. I only discovered this when my own manager bailed on her client and asked for me to take the job. I was terrified because I didn’t know what I was walking into but it changed my life.
Also, as a young mom with a husband in school and working 3 jobs, I found an opportunity to increase my income during my free times. Before I knew it, my requests started to grow and so did my team.
I gave us a name: Beauty Entourage so we could be able to brand ourselves. Because of the quick success, I opened a salon with a full clientele doing hair coloring. Between these two, a salon seemed like the next step.
The third business is a boutique and salon for little girls so juggling all this and having a family has continued to be difficult.
I find I have to be very diligent, organized, and basically never stop. I’m hard on myself if I am not productive. Time is my most valuable commodity and if not taken advantage of, it is easy to fall behind. In the end, I owe a big thank you to my staff and my very supportive husband.
Realistically without the right supporters, I couldn’t manage all this. Learning to utilize others strengths where I have weaknesses has been my biggest lesson over time.
I am planning on selling my 3rd business. My heart isn’t in it the same way it used to be. I am now focused on expanding my beauty team nationally.
Can you discuss the circumstances that led to your career and some challenges you have overcome?
I went to a technical high school with completely different goals in mind than to become a fashion designer. That went out the window when I couldn’t sew to save my life. Instead, I found that I loved creating a vision in my head and drawing it out. The technical school only had hairdressing as an option for me so I took it very unwillingly.
I never could learn from a text book but the creativity that ensued from doing hair fueled my passion and naturally I took things a step further. There have been many challenges and road blocks along my journey. I was in an abusive teenage relationship and had to transfer out from the school I was attending. After the move to a new school, new people, and being quite the minority, troubles continued to follow. I was sexually assaulted by a close friend. By the time I was 17, I had experienced and seen things in life I wouldn’t have wished on anyone.
Although, these challenges were tough they helped me stay strong through the hardships I later faced as an entrepreneur.
These challenges I later faced started with financing. As a young business owner with no credit, it can be quite stressful. The stress took a toll on me. I have had 3 miscarriages. I also made the mistake of working with friends and family. It is one of the hardest things to do.
Being a boss to people you know before makes it very hard to just be the boss. I have lost friends and family over business. It’s odd really. Sometimes your biggest supporters become your worst enemies.
You either learn to grow thick skin or you succumb and inevitably fail… Failure is never an option for me so taking a positive out of negative is truly key and then I press on. Things always happen for a reason. It’s a cliché but really, if you take something out of every situation and let it build you up as opposed to tear you down, you will look back and actually be grateful and understand it had to happen that way.
Let’s talk about your philanthropy. What projects are you involved in and why?
Philanthropy for me began when I became a business owner. I felt like I had the freedom to take my talents and share them in a way that could help others. After all, I make people pretty for a living. I see first hand everyday how that can change someone’s day and it’s the most rewarding part of my job. Beyond that, I meet so many people and hear about so many struggles others are facing.
I myself suffered from severe depression to the point where suicide was almost an option. I had one of those defining moments when I had my son that made me realize I needed to get better.
I found that it warmed my heart to help others get better in the process. It was a form of therapy to surround myself with positivity. To know I could make a difference for someone meant I could also continue to nurture my journey as a survivor. It made me stronger.
Those I have helped have helped me 10 times over. A few things I am most passionate about are the American Cancer Society. I was a volunteer for women going though chemo. I taught them how to style their wigs, care for their hair as it grew back and apply make up. I love using something I love to make a difference.
I took this a step further by starting my own avant-garde fashion shows to raise awareness for a non profit called Wigs for Kids. They hand me prosthetic wigs for children that have lost their hair. The wigs are provided free of charge to qualifying children that have lost their hair due to medical reasons.
With these annual avant-garde shows I do, I have the opportunity to express the extreme side of my creativity which gets a lot of attention and at the same time raise money for Wigs for Kids. I take the write off for the expense to do the show and donate 100% of the sales to the organization.
Another cause dear to my heart is the help I give to the women of my local Domestic Abuse Shelter. Most recently, I did make overs for 10 women and their daughters. I share with them my background which inevitably gives them hope for success when they leave the shelter.
What I try to do when doing these various things throughout the year is show people that money isn’t the only way you can give back. My difference is my talent and I use it the best way I know how… making a difference for others in feeling confident and empowering them. It’s almost always a win/win.
If you could solve a world problem what would it be?
Hate… I think if you eradicate hatred all together, that would solve a multitude of things all at once. When people care, great things can happen.
What ways can millennials use digital media to build platforms and tell their stories?
I have always resorted to Facebook to connect with people and share tidbits of my life. Blogging is also a great way to document your story. Regardless of what platform you use, be authentic. When you become relatable, it offers you more opportunities to make connections and build relationships. For years I was closed up. It wasn’t until I started speaking up and out that great things happened.
What advice would you give the youth out there looking to blaze their own path?
I would say the same. Be authentic. Stay true to your beliefs. If you don’t know what they are then explore a bit. Read. Talk to people. It’s important to take the journey of knowing who you are and when you figure that out, never waiver. By doing this you’ll attract like minded people. For those that you don’t attract…let them be. Just never stop being you and understand that you can always grow.
Now at UYD, we are always looking to find out different ways people use their difference to make a difference. How do you use your difference to make a difference?
I try to share my past hardships to uplift others that haven’t yet found their way. I use my talents to make others feel beautiful and at the same time find ways to raise money and awareness through my creativity.
Where can we find out more about you and what you’re up to?