Ashley Crouch: Founder of Appleseed Communications
Yesterday, I met a world changer.
Raised and home-schooled in a little town in Arkansas, Ashley Crouch never thought she would be a business owner. “I was raised by two parents who grew up in poverty and I watched my dad build a business from the ground up. He would take me into his office when I was a little girl as ‘daddy-daughter days’ and little did he know he was crafting a narrative for me about what was possible.” Ashley grew up with the belief that, “if you dream it you can do it” and she dreamt big.
Ashely is a problem solver. She asks questions and challenges the norm and refuses to settle and strives to empower. She saw this need for women in the fashion industry to understand their worth and know they are truly beautiful and so she sought out a solution, and what came was the last thing she expected. “When looking for a way to do this I was invited to be on the founding team of Verily Magazine and that’s where I caught the entrepreneur bug. What I realized was being an entrepreneur allowed you to create something out of nothing, to create solutions that didn’t already exist. Through the medium of a business, and the people on the team of that business, an entrepreneur is filled with vision, purpose, and hope.” To Ashley, like so many other Catholic business owners, creating a business that is designed towards the good of others is like having a hand in creation itself. God gave us this amazing gift to create and to comprehend the immensity of that gift is next to impossible.
Through starting this magazine Ashley recognized the immense power, and responsibility, of participating in media, “I realized that media creates the cultural climate that we live in and we need to get it right so that when we ask ourselves, ‘what is possible for us’ and say ‘if you dream it you can do it’, then we actually can.” She saw the way that people and corporations responded to this idea of a ‘no-photoshop’ magazine and recognized this need in society for not only empowering stories but empowering women. “Watching how big corporations have changed their tune and how the way women are portrayed has literally changed the landscape they live in has been so amazing.” She wants all women to live confidently in the truth of their dignity, “I want to help women understand they can navigate the world in a place of worth instead of fear and scarcity.”
I want to help women understand they can navigate the world in a place of worth instead of fear and scarcity.
So, what came out of this idea? Ashley started the business Appleseed Communications as a visibility strategist and she uses this gift of story-telling that God gave her to help entrepreneurs enter the market. “I set about to help more entrepreneurs to be heard. I realized media’s leverage accelerates the vision you already have by getting support from the ground up. I want to teach more people how to tell their stories so that the media that we consume can be filled with positive, powerful, profound stories of human resilience and possibilities.” Her own claim is, “You have a message, you were born to share it.” And she truly does live by this statement.
She is a story-teller at heart and she gives a voice to the voiceless, especially women, “Women make up half the global population but we are significantly underrepresented when it comes to decision making and funding opportunities, being heard, having a seat at the table.” Women and men are innately different, we have different skill sets, and we all must realize as women that we have something to contribute to this world, “Women see different problems and they also create different solutions. And in the business space, they are launching businesses at twice the rate of men but they receive only 4% of the capital funding available.” It’s a proven fact, when women are empowered the world is a better place, businesses are more ethical, and our culture will be transformed.
Women make up half the global population but we are significantly underrepresented when it comes to decision making and funding opportunities, being heard, having a seat at the table.
Ashley has so many ideas, and dreams, and aspirations and it’s her faith that pulls it all together. “My business is an external manifestation of my internal development so I put in place routines, rituals, that helps me stay grounded in my purpose, my perspective, and my mindset.” She starts every morning with prayer, meditation, and affirmations and this helps to anchor her into the truth with which she runs her business; she was created by God to create, to challenge the norms, and to transform the culture. She asks the big questions, knowing that in God she has freedom, and in Him, she can do anything. “When great leaders ask, “What if we could be this,” they create new solutions. When they ask, ‘What if we can put a man on Mars,’ ‘What if we can completely change the way we fuel our vehicles,’ ‘What if I didn’t have to stay in a job where I worked 80 hours a week because I actually can launch a business,’ ‘What if I can run a business where I can live and work anywhere and my team does too,’ ‘What if I can impact 10 million people with my own life?’ that is when they change the world”Even with all of her crazy success and the adventurous lifestyle people still, question her heart and her future. “When I was growing up all of my friends got married just outside of high school. I was the only one of my friends not married out of high school or college and they would ask me, ‘When are you going to get married’ and tell me that I’m getting too old. They would say, ‘Why are you doing all of this? You know you are just going to stay home and raise children all day.’” No matter what she did the questions still came and she decided to challenge those questions with questions of her own, “I kept asking the question, ‘What if it didn’t have to be this way?’ and ‘What if I could have a man whose eyes light up at my dreams?’ Instead of me just lighting up at his. ‘What if I could build up this business that allows me to live and work from anywhere with a flexible schedule and a virtual team where I can have a family,’ ‘What if I could become the women I want my daughters to become?’” She didn’t settle, she didn’t give up, and she trusted in God and she has found a man who does all of these things. God created someone for all of us. He created a man who was going to dignify her and respect her and empower her and, even though the waiting seemed endless, He provided a man who loved her well and she couldn’t be happier.
Just some quick fashion advice from a woman who co-founded my favorite fashion blog, “What I love is watching the journey of my own fashion throughout the years as I have gone through the metamorphosis of a homeschooler in Arkansas, barefoot more often than not with an ankle length denim skirt for everyday of the week, to running a fashion magazine and walking the streets of New York every day. I had to work on the ‘skill’ of dressing fashionably and in the end, it just came down to me being authentic in what my fashion is explaining.”Ashley is a dreamer who strives to empower other dreamers and she has definitely left a mark on my heart as a young, dignified, holy, female entrepreneur who I can look up to. She has inspired me to question what people tell me is impossible and has taught me what it means to be a woman of God in the business world today.
“It’s possible to make an impact just by asking the better questions and having the audacity to dream.”