Robin:  Hey Ashley!  Tell me a little bit about YOU. Who you are, where you’re from and what do you do?  And is this your dream job?

Ashley:   I’m just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…..just kidding.  But I AM a small town girl, from Bowman, North Dakota orginally and now living in Wisconsin with my husband Eric and kiddos Hadley, Easton and Jayde.  I grew up on a ranch, in the middle of nowhere, but I loved fashion.  Now in my adult life I get to work with it dailiy.

Nearly five years ago, I founded The Boutique Hub, the central connection point of the world’s boutique industry to help women like me discover boutiques they loved, together on one platform.

While the company started to help consumers, once the community of retailers and wholesale brands formed, the real mission of the Hub unfolded.  To give boutique owners and business owners a home.  A community that supports their fashion business, provides all of the tools and resources they need on a daily basis from wholesale buying, training, events, discounts on vendors, collaborations with bloggers, and much more.

We exist daily to give both a voice and a home to the boutique fashion industry and to change the lives of our members in the process through our values and mantra of COMMUNITY over COMPETITION.

This is most definitely my dream job…

Wow!  Impressive!  And your statement “to give boutique owners and business owners a home” is so on point.  I know from my own experience in the Hub that there are so many supportive people and unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to find that in “real life”. 

Mirriam-Webster defines “confident” as “having or showing assurance and self-reliance”.  What does “confident” mean to you?

Confidence to me is knowing that perfection doesn’t exist, but the person you see in the mirror is on the right path.

I think that when we go after everything in life – whether that is relationships, careers, projects, or obstacles – with the right intentions and faith that all will be okay with God’s hand on our shoulder, that we have nothing left to worry about.  Let the chips fall where they may and ignore the voice of fear – that is confidence.

Have you always been a confident person? Can you give me an example of a time in your life that confidence or self-esteem was a challenge for you?

No.  I had a really rough time in high school and junior high, like many teenage girls do.  Being from the “country” I didn’t fit in with my city friends and really struggled to find my place anywhere.  Finally I realized that I was just meant to do something different, and began to see activities outside of my circle of friends.  While it still wasn’t easy, and I made a TON of poor choices along the way to try to “fit in”, it was finally in college that I found out who I was and found my confidence due to goals I had set and one teacher who really believed in me.

Oh man…I know all about poor choices!  But having someone – even if it’s just one person – believe in you can make all the difference in the world when you’re trying to find your path.

What do you think makes it so hard for women to love themselves and really own who they are?

You can’t look away fast enough today from the news, pop culture, and our society constantly making women sex objects, or putting a size 2 on a pedestal.  Rarely do we celebrate women for who they are, what they have lived through, and their beauty far beyond photoshop.

This gives women an constant inner dialogue of doubt…am I good enough?  Sally on Social Media has more, does more, gets more likes or the list could on on and on…

Our worth is not meant for anyone but US to decide.  If we choose to base our worth on someone else’s opinion, we have now wasted our life.

There is so much opportunity in this world to impact just one other human – do just one good deed – and base oru worth on what love we created in the world around us today, instead of what someone else says is perfect today.

Your words about “one good deed” remind me of one of my favorite songs by Rachel Platten – Fight Song.  The lines 

Like how a single word
Can make a heart open
I might only have one match
But I can make an explosion

We all face challenges that maybe put our confidence/self-esteem on the line.  What challenges do you sometimes face and how do you deal with them to bring yourself back to feeling good about you?

I will never forget the feelings I had in junior high of girls talking about me behind my back. One time I was at a playdate and the two other girls there with me decided to make code words about me so they could talk about me even in front of my face.  My word was “airplane”.  They didn’t hold back either – all the vulgar you could think.  They went for it thinking I was too stupid to understand.  I did.

Even today on social media, I fight holding back those feelings of insecurity as I see some of these same scenarios play out.  From “vaguebook” posts that you feel are directed at you (even if they aren’t), or hearing through the rumor mill what someone has said about you behind your back.  It really hurts.

Those junior high feelings are something that do paralyze me from time to time, but it’s because of them that I will always tell it straight. I will contact those people directly and ask them if something happened that I should know about (most of the time) or will find a way to redirect my attention and say nothing.

I am a firm believer that the cream will always rise to the top, and that if someone can’t come to you directly to ask a question or solve a problem, that the issue doesn’t not lie with me, but with them.  And doing the right thing will always get your further.  Even if that means holding tight.

I can so relate to those junior high and high school feelings and it’s unfortunate that those scars can stay with us for the rest of our lives.  Things can be rolling along just like they should be and then something happens to make you flash back to those years and those insecure feelings are there all over again. I truly believe it’s not about you – it’s about them….but when you’re in those moments of re-living, sometimes that can be hard to remember!

Is there someone in your early life that was an important role model for you?  Someone that you viewed as being confident and really living “who they are”?  Is there someone in your life now that you look up to as a role model?  And what qualities in them do you most admire?

My biggest role model has always been my father.  He was the life of the party, and the man who would stop at nothing to give you the shirt off of his back.  He was generous to a fault. He always valued integrity first, honestly, hard work, and giving to those who needed it.  He was my rock. We lost him to cancer, after my own battle, but I cherish the moments I was able to spend with him before he passed.  Witnessing the end of life in that was was hard, but beautiful.

I am so sorry you lost your dad.  I always refer to my dad as my “lighthouse”.  We have something in common…..I was also with my dad in the last moments so I understand when you say although difficult, it was beautiful.

What do you do when your own confidence/self-esteem need a boost?  Got any tricks?  Do you rely on yourself for that or do you reach out?

I have learned over the years that when I’m down, it’s on me to make a change.  The only thing we can change in life is our perception of reality and our attitude – then the inspired actions we take around it.

I keep a daily gratitude list, and on days when I’m down, I journal even more to focus on the good.  I also keep a vision board near my desk and focus not on just what the goals are, but who I want to BE in the process.  Having something like a new car means nothing if you aren’t working on yourself and your inner conversion at the same time.

Biggest trick?  I’m a post-it note junky. I have several of them on and around my desk with reminders for when I need it most.  One in clear sight says “Don’t let the minority speak for the majority” and “guard your energy” because it can be wasted on petty things or used to move mountains.

Oh my gosh!  I LOVE that!  “It can be wasted on petty things or used to move mountains.”  I’m gonna tell you right now – the vision board.  I never ever even thought of making a vision board until I learned that from you.

At what point in your life did you finally begin accepting everything about YOU and start living your best, most authentic life?  When did you finally decide that you were ready to let the world really know your badass self? Some of us have that light bulb moment…some of us need a lot of lessons and a learning curve.  Which was it for you?

After the biggest failure I’ve had in business, almost losing the company, having someone steal nearly $20K from us and blocking me from my Facebook groups…this was not only the lowest moment for me, but also the one that taught me the most.

Up until this point, being new to business I thought I needed to have someone “smarter” than me in the business.  After a painful lesson, I learned that the only way to make it work was to be myself – 100%.  I became more real on social media, more raw with my backstory, values, ideas and my faith.  Finally after losing it all, I was like “ok…here I am…take it or leave it.”

I thought I had to be like the “big startups” I would read about or follow.  I thought I had to be a Tech Founder and go to find an investor along the way.  I didn’t believe that a girl from Wisconsin could build it big on her own.

I was wrong.  Today, I couldn’t imagine that the Hub would be nearly what it is without me owning this truth.

I think that’s one of the biggest things you “preach”… be real and raw.  To be yourself.

I guess the last thing I want to ask you is……what do you feel your biggest life lesson and your biggest personal accomplishment is at this point in your life?

My biggest life lesson is that whatever you are dreaming about currently, it might be too small.  Our entire family’s lives and futures changed when Eric and I started to understand the real impact and power of our mindset, our outlook on what happens around us and how we perceive it.  We grew up in scarcity, believing that there was only so much to go around. We had never understood abundance, that the Universe is infinite and so are the possibilities.  This has changed oru way of thinking, our tolerance for negativity and small minded thoughts.  Today, we are champions for dreamers and those who look for the opportunity rather than the reasons why not.

My biggest accomplishment to date?  There have been some great ones in life and business that I am so proud of, but more than anything – I am MOST proud to be a mom and wife. Eric, Hadley, Easton and Jayde are the center of my why, and I am so proud of our family unit.  Before we started The Boutique Hub, we moved across the country to a town where we didn’t know a soul.  It was our love for one another and constant will to see things a new way that changed the future.  I am so proud of my family and I wouldn’t be anywhere without them.

Thank you so much Ashley!  It was fun getting to know you a little better and I’m grateful for you being real and raw right here with me!