Ashley is originally from Colorado, and today she works in Product Development for Joylab in New York City. She told us about how she managed balancing her job and her passions, and why she decided to become a yoga teacher.
Ashley, where are you originally from and how did you become interested in fashion?
I am originally from Pueblo, Colorado and had a lovely childhood there, I eventually ventured out to Colorado State University, where I studied Apparel Design and Production. Originally, I wanted to be a designer but fell into more of the development process. As I worked in Product Development, I became the link between the designer and the finished product, bringing the ideas of the designers to life. After I graduated college, I spent a year in New York City interning and diving into design, then a few years in Los Angeles, but I have been back in New York City for about ten years now. I am currently doing Product Development for Joylab, an athletic wear company by Target. My company is awesome and so is the team. JL’s mission fits in very well with what I stand behind as a yogi and a woman – body positivity, inclusivity, and strong company ethics regarding fair labor practices. We are also working to making our products as sustainable as possible, which is refreshing in the fashion industry. Now, sustainability is becoming more mainstream and common in apparel, but that wasn’t always the case. It was so important for me to find a company that stands behind eco-friendly design and sustainability, and spreads a positive message for women.
I love to make things. From creating yoga companies to cooking an intricate meal, I love creating. I love seeing them come to life and becoming an experience for others to enjoy. I really gravitate towards building something from nothing. Yoga, music, and movement are passions of mine so it love anything involving them. I especially love being social, enjoying a nice meal out, or really anything where I can be with friends and enjoy a good laugh. And don’t forget my rosé!
Tell us about Soulga and why you became a yoga teacher.
Initially, when I began working in fashion, my job was really demanding and I was working ridiculous hours. I began to feel really overwhelmed and burned out. I started getting into yoga as a way to escape and to carve out my own time to have self-care and peace. After losing my job in 2013, I followed my yoga teacher to a week long retreat in Costa Rica for a little reset. I actually ended up staying for 2 months, and ultimately that’s where I decided to get certified as a teacher. I wanted to refocus my life to fit my ideals a little bit more, being more conscious about work ethics and getting back to being healthy, centered, and more peaceful. In today’s society, and in New York City especially, there is a strong tie to “high stress equals high success”. I feel it is important to break that association and emphasize that you can feel calm, balanced AND be successful. You don’t need to sacrifice one for the other.
Three years ago after I became certified, I started having live DJ yoga events in NYC as a way to teach and have some fun. After a year it traveled to my hometown in Colorado, where we opened our first studio. It will be two years in October and we are thrilled that the Sougla community is really shaping up. We offer yoga and barre in the studio and hold yoga events in NYC partnering with companies like Urban Outfitters and WeWork. In our mission, we don’t attach our yoga/barre to exclusivity–we believe that health and wellness should be available to everyone. We want to make sure that we foster a lighthearted and fun environment that’s approachable. I feel as if my vibe and personality has been injected into the soul of the brand. If you know me, you know I love anything glittery, colorful, pink, happy, and fun. But even though we have fun, we are serious about proper training. Having a strong training in alignment and foundations, I wanted to make sure Soulga followed suit by hiring teachers that are serious about yoga and fitness. We pride ourselves on having creative flows paired with fun music, but we also emphasize doing the poses properly and safely. The whole Soulga experience is meant to be full body–from the way we light the room, to how we curate the music playlist, to the use of aromatherapy with essential oils during Savasana.
Our signature class is called Deep n’ Dope, a Vinyasa class with Yin-inspired poses at the end. The class starts off with invigorating flows to get the heart pumping and moving, then moves into Yin to help get into the connective tissues and allow the yogi to settle into the stretch. The music is “dream pop” moody vibes and we cast pink and purple colors in the studio. These elements all tie together in a specific way, making sure to hit on all of the senses in one class. We want yogis to walk away feeling pretty chill, but not sleepy… feeling very “dope.”
What does it mean for you to be powerful?
Most recently, due to an allergy issue, I went through a period of time where I had to stop wearing makeup, and that was surprisingly uncomfortable. I am not one to wear much makeup in general, but not wearing the little I did left me feeling exposed and self-conscious. I quickly realized I had to just be me and I couldn’t hide behind anything. Truthfully, most people probably didn’t even notice or care. Realizing this was very empowering and made me feel confident in a way I didn’t think possible. There are so many times where we think we need these extra things to be our best selves, but in truth, you don’t. Your true self will always make you feel more confident than any mask ever will.
To me, being powerful means standing behind what you believe in no matter what– you could be the only person in the room that believes, but you should stand behind it. There were so many times I’ve been told I shouldn’t go after what I want, but believing in myself has helped to prove otherwise. I would have never accomplished most of the things I have if I hadn’t trusted my own intuition and followed my own path. Its cliché but it’s kind of the secret. If you will it and say it, you’ll do it. There’s way more accountability if you say something aloud. You have to show up for it.