Hi Everyone! My name is Ashley Thomas. I’m 29 years young and I’m the CEO of Ash Park LLC in Atlanta, Ga. Ash Park is an online store for women. We sell graphic apparel and accessories that motivate women to thrive in life. I moved to Atlanta in 2007 to pursue my Bachelor’s in Fine Arts at the Art Institute of Atlanta. After being exposed to different cultures, experiences, lifestyles, I knew this was the place for me to set some roots. With a background in Retail, Marketing and Fine Arts, it only seemed natural to create an online space where all these talents can come together for one sole purpose. Growing up in a smaller city, there wasn’t a lot of options for me to express myself, career wise. I was always the shy, soft spoken, introverted girl in school. It wasn’t until people actually got to know me, that they would find out I’m a burst of fun & creativity. This was one of the motivations behind Ash Park. I wanted to bring people into my world of expression. If I can motivate people to exceed their own expectations of themselves through my brand, then I know I’m going in the right direction. “Ash” is short for Ashley and “Park” represents a landscape of nature’s beauty. So, welcome to my Park. Ash Park!
I decided to become an entrepreneur because I wanted something more for my life. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life on my own terms. It’s one thing to have a “good” job, get “good” pay and build someone else’s dream. However, that can’t even compare to building your own dreams. There’s a sense of pride when you’re walking in your purpose. People may think that having a 9-5 means having job security. What most people don’t realize is that no job is secure. I have seen people get laid off after working 10+ years with one company. I believe in myself more than any job. In entrepreneurship, when you realize your talents or abilities and master them, you are irreplaceable. When I wake up and jot down new ideas, pull sales reports or post on social media, I don’t feel like it’s a job. I am passionate about this and love what I do. When something just feels right, that’s when you know that God has put you in the right spot.
Before starting my business, I wish I would have known that, patience is everything and to embrace constructive criticism. Patience will be the deciding factor of you keeping yourself calm or driving yourself crazy. I know in our minds we think that we may have the best idea(s), since sliced bread. That’s okay; you are supposed to be passionate about your ideas. However, because we think our ideas are the best, we expect people to catch on quickly and join the movement. In the words of Erykah Badu, “Keep in mind I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my sh**” Well this is my blessing and curse. I can be sensitive about my art, but now I’ve learned that if I’m receiving constructive criticism from people with good intentions, I can really process what they are saying to see if it’s something worth updating. Don’t let anyone change your overall purpose, because only you can see the details of your vision. However, people on the outside looking in, may be able to see something in a different perspective. Improvements are what help us to evolve.
Overall, I’m inspired by anybody out here in the world achieving their goals and living their best life. I love to see women running successful business, excelling in their professional careers or doing great things in the community. It’s never about competition; it’s about supporting one another. I feel like you can learn from everyone that you encounter that’s doing something positive and mastering their craft.
The advice I would give an aspiring entrepreneur is trust the process and be willing to learn from your mistakes. Ash Park LLC wasn’t my 1st idea and I’m sure it won’t be my last. Around 5 years ago, I created another LLC with a similar concept or objective. I was so excited! I thought I was going to automatically catch on to everything, just because I saw some YouTube videos, read a few books and had some designs. WRONG! I lost a lot of money, doing absolutely nothing. I created an LLC, not realizing the work that needed to be done on the backend. This such as registering with the state, having a clear way to fulfill orders, getting a proper functioning website, building online presence, were all overwhelming to be at the time. There were a lot of unnecessary details that I was so focus on, that I lost track of what I was doing and my goals. It became more of a bragging right instead of a purpose. I wanted to brag about being a business owner, but didn’t have anything to show for it. To make a long story short, I dissolved my previous business. I had a lot of shame behind doing this for a long time because I felt like a failure. I had to realize that I have to be willing to learn from my mistakes and not let anything hold me back from living my fullest potential. I decided to do real industry research, talk to people to assist me in the process, tested out some ideas and took my time to produce a quality brand that I can stand behind 110%. It’s not about how fast to get to the goal. Everyone has their own path to follow. Entrepreneurship is about being able to overcome and create your own destiny.
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