To kick off this series, who better to feature then someone who’s core business model revolves around creating a beautiful you from the inside out. Ashley Wood, owner/founder of Rae of Sunshine is an absolute doll and has been an inspiration to me for quite some time. I started following her on IG a year or so ago and found myself looking forward to her posts. They were not only beautifully done but also uplifting, real and super delicious! Her journey is so inspiring and will make you a believer that regardless of what life throws at you, there is always a way to turn it into something positive.
Rae of Sunshine is a good mix of quite a few things. It’s an amazing health and wellness blog where Ashley shares her original vegan recipes. She’s also secured a long-standing freelance contract with Cameron Diaz’s blog, The Body Book. She’s super busy creating meal plans, developing recipes and working towards opening a NEW restaurant in Winnipeg.
Ashley’s got so much on her plate (no pun intended!) and we are so excited she took the time to join us for an interview to share her story and her tips and tricks for success!
WE: What made you decide to launch your own business?
Ashley: I’ll give you the long story…
My husband and I moved to Toronto after we got married for his schooling and I left my job behind. I felt quite lost in Toronto and struggled to find my place. I was also learning more and more about vegan food and nutrition, which was quickly becoming one of my biggest passions.
In March 2013, my husband and I were making onion rings, preparing for a cozy Sunday night in. The oil in the pot got too hot and in an instant, our cupboards went up in flames. My husband and I didn’t know what to do, but he ran to grab the cats so we could evacuate. He was struggling to catch them so I had a ‘fight or flight’ moment, put on the oven mitts and yelled at him to open the door. He did so (not knowing what I was up to), and I grabbed the pot and ran outside with it. The oil spilled down my legs and feet while I was running and the flames went in my face and on my hair. I ended up with second degree burns all over my body.
The doctor that I saw thought I may need skin grafting surgery to heal, but instead I chose to heal myself naturally. By drinking a lot of green juices, smoothies, eating 100% organic, plant-based foods, getting a lot of sleep and taking great care of myself, I healed my body within a few months. I didn’t take any medications, not even Tylonel to manage the pain, and after six months, my body was entirely scar-free.
I knew I had to share my story with the world because I believe plants are medicine and so much more powerful than so many people know. That’s why I started my blog.
I had no idea it would grow into what it has today, but I am very grateful. That night in March 2013 was terrifying and I was in a lot of pain for a while, but it changed my life for the better.
WE: What was the biggest hurdle you faced when launching your new business? How did you overcome it?
Ashley: One of the biggest hurdles I’ve found is self discipline and time management. I sometimes struggle with balance and I’ll go through phases where I’ll work for hours around the clock and then other phases where I fall into Facebook scrolling holes and waste a lot of time doing nothing. Finding balance between work and fun is something I’m always working on.
WE: What would you consider your first big success?
Ashley: My first big success was the first time I received an email from one of my readers telling me that my story has inspired them to incorporate more plants into their diet and start transitioning towards a vegan lifestyle. Inspiring people to eat healthier is always my goal.
WE: What is your favorite part about running your own business? What is the hardest part?
Ashley: Well, since I still work a full-time 9-5 job, the hardest part is always balancing my time between work and family life. I am excited to open the restaurant because, although it will mean longer hours at “the office” (the restaurant), I will be able to turn off while I’m home and truly be present with my family. The BEST parts and my favourite parts are being able to connect with people around the world on a topic that I’m VERY passionate about. I’ve felt myself grow as a person in ways I never imagined, I’m more confident, I feel more mature in my wants and desires and I have been able to make a difference in other people’s lives. That may sound cliche, but that’s so important to me.
WE: What is your number one piece of advice for any woman looking to turn her great idea into a business venture?
Ashley: Don’t give up and practice patience. Instant gratitude will never get you far, take your time and master your skill. Be the best at what you’re setting out to be. Don’t settle on being good – anyone can be good – be the best.
I also wrote a blog post (for Body Book) about this, Turn Your Passion Into Your Profession
WE: As women entrepreneurs, we tend to wear several hats at the same time (mom, friend, wife etc.), how are you able to balance it all?
Ashley: Ha! This is what I struggle with. However, my husband is absolutely amazing and SO supportive. We share the household duties 50/50. He does all the cleaning and the laundry so those are two chores I never have to worry about. It’s very helpful and I’m so thankful!
WE: What is your secret to staying motivated and inspired?
Ashley: It’s not a secret really, other than I want to make my dreams a reality. We all have hopes and dreams of how we want our life to be and we make choices every single day to either work towards those hopes and dreams or work against them. Not everyone wants to be an entrepreneur or a business woman, but everyone does have at least one hope for how their life will turn out. I want to be my own boss and I want to make an impact on the world by inspiring others to eat more plants and live healthier, more compassionate lives.
WE: When you think back on your personal journey as a women entrepreneur, what would you say are the three most prominent contributing factors to your success?
Ashley: 1: hard work. I spent hours and hours and hours building my online presence that would in turn grow my blog and social media platforms. When I say hours…I mean, I would go to work from 9-5 and then spend every evening and every weekend developing recipes, taking photos, editing photos and writing. I would wake up at 6 am before work to make something and then continue cooking when I got home from work. I did this for a solid ten months.
2: Determination. I taught myself how to build my own website. I taught myself how to take photos. I taught myself how to edit photos. I taught myself how to develop recipes. I taught myself how to critique my own work and I taught myself how to put myself out there. I didn’t know how to do any of this. It wasn’t easy, but when I wanted to do something, I did it myself.
3: Goals: I set goals for myself and wrote lists all the time. I still do, almost every day. I always know what my goals are and I always know what I’m working towards because I write it down constantly. It helps me stay motivated.
WE: What is your top piece of marketing advice for female entrepreneurs?
Ashley: I follow the three C’s (I think I made this up? I’m sure other people say this):
Whatever content you’re putting out there, whether it’s blog content or a marketing strategy for a realtor, the content needs to reflect who you are and what your business is about. Always be as authentic as possible, and be REAL with who you are.
Make sure the content you put out is consistent on social media, your blog or whatever you’re putting out. Have a plan and stick to it. It will help you stay focused and it will help build a following because your audience knows what’s coming. Make sure your content is creative. There’s a million people out there doing exactly what you’re doing, so how can you do it differently?
Thank you again Ashley for sharing your journey with us! WE are so excited to have you on board and cannot wait to continue celebrating your successes alongside you. Visit Ashley’s website, here!
Ashley’s photos by: A Marie Photography