Erika Ashley | Episode 6

Erika Ashley reveals how media features can help you quickly get over imposter syndrome and how she keeps feminism as a core value in her business

Erika Ashley Shares Her Journey Through Entrepreneurship, Chronic Pain, and Conquering Imposter Syndrom

Welcome back everyone today I’m hanging out with my friend Erika Ashley!

She is an award-winning entrepreneur, feminist and TEDx speaker who leverages over a decade of press, branding, and social media marketing experience in her work as a publicist and strategist for entrepreneurs, digital influencers, and small businesses.

Her clients have been Grammy-winning bands, celebrities, and entrepreneurs and you’ve seen them in refinery29, Yahoo, Style, HGTV, espnW, Cosmopolitan, Self Magazine, The Today Show, Britt&co and countless other media Outlets.

When she is not helping her clients establish their brand presence Erika’s probably trying out a new liquid lipstick or watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. You may have seen Erika in Forbes nylon Health bustle Britt&Co, Martha Stewart Weddings and more!

Welcome Erika!

E: Hi thank you so much for having me, I’m super excited.

H: Yes! Now you get to add that you’ve seen Erika on Hanna Hermanson! (Laughs)

on the list of credentials haha

Such an impressive list of accomplishments that you’ve made in the media world for yourself in your clients and I would love to know if this is what you were dreaming of growing up did you see yourself working in the media?

E: No actually my dream growing up as a kid was actually – super, super original dream – to be a dentist. So I actually saw myself going to Dentistry school I saw myself owning my own business which is basically the only similarity to what I’m doing now and I guess dentists have to find a way to communicate with people who maybe don’t have a clear handle on how to communicate so I guess those things are things that were in common but I kind of fell into PR and journalism pretty much by accident I had the opportunity to go on a blimp ride as a nine-year-old and that completely changed my life number one because it was just amazing to see the city in a different way but number two and more importantly there was a reporter there from the local paper and I was so fascinated by the fact that me riding the blimp was worthy of the news that a reporter cared about what a nine-year-old had to say that that actually began my love affair with the media and led me down the path of Journalism School and then working at Publications and working as a PR coordinator on the corporate side of things but had I not had the experience of things I don’t know that I would have gone down this path

H: wow I didn’t know that piece of your story, I did know we had a lot in common! And now, you and I both thought we were going to be dentists when we were in grade school. My younger brother and I actually had a blueprint drawn up for what our dentist office was going to look like when we went into business together.

E: yeah I think I wanted to be a dentist mostly because my childhood Crush was on my dentist so I think I wanted to be a dentist because I thought he was just like super cute (Laughs)

H: like the way to their heart was to be exactly like them

So you pursue journalism and you said you worked in corporate?

E: yeah I so I got my first degree in journalism and then I did my other degrees and heart history but I was still working at publication during that time so I either found it or was on the editorial board for for Publications and then I did other things in corporate and my last job before starting out of my own was as a PR and advocacy coordinator for a pretty large not-for-profit in Ontario so I was writing press releases I was trying to get FaceTime with government officials who were getting our story in the media advocating about different things that the organization wanted to advocate for so that was my last job before I became an entrepreneur. I was in PR.

H: wow sounds like a pretty dream job making a difference and doing the work that your nine-year-old self was inspired about so what made you transition out of that roll

E: So I always say the entrepreneurship life chose me I didn’t necessarily choose it. So basically what happened I woke up one day, and people talk about falling on their face in a metaphorical way, I actually literally fell on my face. Because I was actually getting up to go to work at that job, and my left hip was in so much pain I stood up and I was not prepared for it and I like fell down and I couldn’t go into work that day.

And that kept happening I kept getting to where I would wake up in intensive pain. I’ve had it almost my whole life I was diagnosed at 18 months with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and my hip joint had gotten so worn away that I was on the list for hip replacement and there was just no way on the face of the Earth that I was going to go into a job where I was going to have to climb up and down 3 flights of stairs when getting to my front door was a struggle. So I had to find a way to make money, I had to do something different, and so entrepreneurship became a necessity not necessarily a choice

H: Wow, yea that’s interesting, I think that there’s a metaphor there with the falling on your face and I do find it interesting how few people I interview on the show or folks that I encounter grew up thinking “I’m going to be an entrepreneur and help thought leaders get featured in the media” maybe because we’re not exposed to that, but also because it doesn’t become that necessity to take full ownership for a lifestyle or income for the work that we do.

So how does one go from falling on their face to stepping into entrepreneurship was that a seamless transition for you or what did you have to learn?

E: so luckily I had been working as a freelancer which is how my Grammy-winning clients came to be and I also worked with a former winner of The Voice back when I was still a student in school so I already had experience as a freelancer just doing contract work but I really didn’t know what I was doing because this was in my early, early twenties I was about 20 or 22 when I finished so I didn’t know what I was doing didn’t know how to keep a contract was essentially just side hustling it was a pretty sweet side Hustle but a side hustle none the less so I think the biggest transition was figuring out how do you actually run a business online because the only people that had seen running businesses at that point online was like the beauty and fashion influencers that I was following YouTubers that I would watch they were running a business online but they were pretty much the only people that I would ever see do that so figuring that out was a huge learning curve.

H: yea so taking the work that you were doing for as a side Hustle or for another organization it sounded like you were well you’re working for a corporation so you were definitely on a team so you had people holding you accountable or giving you projects to work on… so was there ever moments in that transition to like, ok I need to figure out contracts or how to do this online, did you ever feel alone or isolated in that process?

E: yeah so I felt alone for probably the first four to five months for sure because I had a small reserve, I had a little cushion of money that I had built up thankfully over the years but it wasn’t a lot and I knew it was going to run out at some point so I went to a friend who is a beauty influencer and that one Facebook group she was in and I said you know what maybe I’ll throw my hand in and throw my hat in the ring at beating of beauty and fashion influencer more full-time I’d kind of done it on the side but had never made it go at it at making it a career so I spied on the Facebook groups that she was in and she was actually in a lot of entrepreneurial Facebook groups which is how I found the coaching industry and how I ended up hiring my first coaches.

H: Yeah, that’s super interesting, I did a similar thing when I first thought okay I’m going to do an online business and I’ll figure out the contracts and the nitty-gritty of how people do this and then here I was in my apartment on my computer and so I think the Facebook strategy is something pretty popular for the last several years and now something that people are converting into a marketing tool and really it just started as, I think, community. And us looking for other folks thinking the way we think, saying and doing the things we do.

So super interesting and a piece of your story, I hope you don’t mind sharing a little bit, and I’m not sure exactly where it fits in, but your decision to start a Ph.D program and use Academia to achieve some of your goals as far as being a feminist and now a TedX speaker…but involved! in ways more than just having an online business that can replenish your financial cushion. So can you talk to us a little bit about that point in your life where you made the decision to go back to school?

E: yeah so I was pretty much in school the entire time so it wasn’t really a decision to go back it was a decision to not drop out basically so in addition of having all these health issues and trying to start this business I was also in a new city so I had just gotten this job I was in a new city I was starting Ph.D. program and now I could not go to class anymore which was an interesting thing to explain to your professor that after about 3 months you are no longer going to class so I tried to make those two things work in the beginning I officially dropped out in 2017 so it last year and that decision really came from wanting to impact more people.

But in terms of how Academia shaped my views as a feminist,  shaped my role as a feminist, it definitely had everything to do with that. I grew up in a small suburban town, and my high school graduating class was about 50 people and the “people of color” in my graduating class were like – the really tan Italian kid. That’s about as diverse as it got. So we didn’t have people of color we didn’t see people of color at the time – now things are really different you know, cut to 12 years after I graduated high school things are really different – but at the time there was no diversity everyone was just kind of under this belief that we were going to go to college but we probably kind of end up back in the same suburban area that we had grown up and we probably marry someone with the high school with all of this stuff.

And so, I associated feminism just based on that type of upbringing, as being something that was very toxic and very negative and very detrimental almost to my future because I just saw a feminist as this angry woman rioting out on the street.

I didn’t really know that to be a feminist just meant wanting gender equality and wanting the same rights that men have. That for me in college was a huge shift when I started reading a lot of feminist thinkers and when feminist methodology was introduced to me I just went -whoa whoa whoa- a lot of the things that I had learned as a teenager and the young person were actually really screwed up!

And that doesn’t have to be my goal life and I don’t just have to go and get married and have kids because that’s what everyone has done before me has done. I have the right to choose, I have the autonomy to work those things in, and so that is something I’ve been incorporating more into my business.

#1 with my choice to work primarily with women and

#2 to only work with companies that have feminist values and that support feminist leadership.

But its also come in in my TEDx talk because for me that was a really big opportunity to position myself differently and to really bring awareness to the fact that gender inequality in the workplace and even gender inequality amongst entrepreneurs doesn’t really start when we hit the workplace, or when we start our business, it starts when where kids and we are learning as early as the age of 2 what the differences are between boys and girls.

H: so important, great stuff. You’re doing great so far, by the way, okay so the last question is: where can people learn more about the work that you do and stay connected to you?

E: So there are 2 places.

#1 you can go to my website at www.erikaashley.co and that’s where you’ll find my blog and you’ll find all of my programs that I have available and you can sign up for my newsletter so you can keep receiving helpful newsletters for me once or twice a week the other place is all across social media so my handle is consistent all the way across @ErikaAshley and that’s where you can connect with me on a more personal level and you can ask me any questions you may have and where you can learn more about me as a person in the weird things that I like and you can see my live reactions that everything that’s happening on RuPaul’s Drag Race every week

H: and lipstick too!

E: you always see lipstick for me I’ll see me unboxing you makeup products live on my stories tell if you want to know that the human behind the podcast and the human behind the polished podcast interview. – Instagram stories are really where you want to hit me up

H: I’ve been loving those lately Instagram stories are so fun. So we’ll make sure your website is linked and shows up so folks can hop over on to Erikaashley.Co and access those things you talked about. As always, Erika, you know your stuff. I can give a personal shout-out to the work that you do and helping people get featured to build their confidence and tell their story you are an amazing example and I always appreciate, I don’t like the term picking your brain, but you did you shared a good amount of her brain with us. So thank you.

E: absolutely, yeah it was a good time sharing our never fulfilled dreams of becoming a dentist together!

H: haha a dentist or an academic, and here we are now just chit-chatting all day.

E: exactly, life takes a weird turn

H: it’s all good my friend, I will talk to you soon and listeners don’t forget to hop on over to dreamlifeisreallife.com/podcast to learn more about Erika Ashley and to make your dream life, your real life.

H: I am so glad I am so glad you touched on that the fact that the work that you’re being in the media and the way I introduced you is completely tied to your mission as a feminist. And sometimes entrepreneurs I also grew up in a small town, and entrepreneurs can get this rap that we’re just about the money or that entrepreneurs hustle online so we can fulfill these superficial goals. Yet there are so many inspiring entrepreneurs that are completely mission-driven. And from an outsider’s perspective how does being in the media support women’s rights? And that’s exactly what you do every day. So thank you for sharing that.

E: Yea thanks, so one of the things I love most about what I do is that I strongly believe that if younger women have more positive adult female role models showing up in the media, that it gives him something to aspire to or gives people the contact for mentorship or people to follow especially with social media it makes it so easy for young women to see that they have other options there’s no one is pushing those stories and no one is putting women front and center into media narrative then it’s impossible for things to change.

H: So powerful. What advice would you give women who maybe are watching from the sidelines and consuming the media, looking for those progressive pieces but wondering “where would I even start” or am I someone who can be a leader or an entrepreneur? What would you just love to tell those young women or just starting out women?

E: Anyone can become an entrepreneur. We live in a time with unprecedented opportunity and it’s really important that you go after the things that you want so whether that’s business or something else it doesn’t matter it’s important that you go out and get what you want and the media can play a really big role because it can help you to see what types of stories work and what types of narratives people want to follow number one, but it can also be a great credibility and Authority Builder if you can get your story featured in the media. So that even if someone just starting out you have life experience you have things to share and you have things that would be really valuable to someone else so you might as well start building your media credibility and becoming brand partners and becoming brand friends with these media Outlets that will establish your media credibility quickly

H:  Mmmhmmm. And the Imposter syndrome hates media features haha cuz I find that the more I’m featured in places or I collaborate or I make my clients go right there first book or just do something to just demonstrate your expertise in the media you quickly prove to yourself that you do have a lot of value and your story does want to be told so I think that’s really powerful advice.

E: and imposter syndrome, after you do a couple of podcast interviews once you get your first place that wants to feature, you’re really validating the fact that you have something to say so it’s not a conventional strategy everyone says to go down the route of mindset work but I really feel like being featured in the media is a great way to get over your imposter syndrome and build your authority in one fell swoop. It serves two purposes in one.

H: I totally agree. Great great stuff. So we are reaching what I like to call the pop quiz section and from all of your years and education I’m sure you will do well even if you didn’t study I just have three more quick questions for you

The first one is: what is one thing we can do today yo get closer to our dream life. Or the goals that we have. One action we can take.

E: Focus consistently on your mindset and actually schedule it in to your schedule everyone said that mindset work is important but if you don’t put it into your schedule I found that it doesn’t get done and it’s the number one thing with my clients that prevent them from doing their mindset work schedule time in their calendar for it.

H: Yep I’ve been that girl. I’ve been that girl that misses a couple of days, and then a couple weeks and so I have been scheduling it and I recently just implemented the Calm app to help me do some early morning meditation and visualize and I can’t get out of bed until I do it and so maybe that’s not the best practice of Meditation, but it’s holding me accountable and so wherever it’s going to fit into your schedule make it a priority.

The second question is: what is, what is a tangible resource that you would encourage people to get their hands on maybe it’s a book that changed your life or a podcast that is super helpful for you but it’s tangible resource.

E: a podcast that I really love is Girlboss with Sofia Amoruso so I guess admire Sofia in general but I love the quality of questions that she asked and that it’s one of the few podcasts that really places an emphasis on speaking to women not just about their successes but the really difficult moments and failures in their business in their careers and so it’s really important to hear that even for people who have multimillion-dollar companies or billion dollar companies or award-winning actresses that they have also struggled with things and that the journey has been ups and downs because sometimes, especially on social media, we always see the UPS so it’s important to remind ourselves that this is ultimately a journey and a journey is going to have highs and lows and that podcast while actually providing actual business advice also helps remind me that I’m not alone in my struggle, that other people have been through similar things.

H: So important, great stuff. You’re doing great so far, by the way, okay so the last question is: where can people learn more about the work that you do and stay connected to you?

 

E: So there are 2 places.

 

#1 you can go to my website at www.erikaashley.co and that’s where you’ll find my blog and you’ll find all of my programs that I have available and you can sign up for my newsletter so you can keep receiving helpful newsletters for me once or twice a week the other place is all across social media so my handle is consistent all the way across @ErikaAshley and that’s where you can connect with me on a more personal level and you can ask me any questions you may have and where you can learn more about me as a person in the weird things that I like and you can see my live reactions that everything that’s happening on RuPaul’s Drag Race every week

 

H: and lipstick too!

 

E: you always see lipstick for me I’ll see me unboxing you makeup products live on my stories tell if you want to know that the human behind the podcast and the human behind the polished podcast interview. – Instagram stories are really where you want to hit me up

 

H: I’ve been loving those lately Instagram stories are so fun. So we’ll make sure your website is linked and shows up so folks can hop over on to Erikaashley.Co and access those things you talked about. As always, Erika, you know your stuff. I can give a personal shout-out to the work that you do and helping people get featured to build their confidence and tell their story you are an amazing example and I always appreciate, I don’t like the term picking your brain, but you did you shared a good amount of her brain with us. So thank you.

 

E: absolutely, yeah it was a good time sharing our never fulfilled dreams of becoming a dentist together!

 

H: haha a dentist or an academic, and here we are now just chit-chatting all day.

 

E: exactly, life takes a weird turn

 

H: it’s all good my friend, I will talk to you soon and listeners don’t forget to hop on over to dreamlifeisreallife.com/podcast to learn more about Erika Ashley and to make your dream life, your real life.

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