In transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
What comes to mind for you? Perhaps an uncomfortable feeling? Stress? Fear?
Although life transitions can be difficult, they’re also opportunities to push through and come out on the other side feeling more whole, more intentional, more self aware. The result can even reach beyond us.
This week I interviewed Ashley Crouch, Founder of Appleseed Communications. Before turning 30, Ashley helped start four businesses. She’s mission-driven and working to serve. But the clarity didn’t happen overnight.
The quarter life crisis she experienced led her to take drastic action, but it’s because she embraced the change and faced it head on that she discovered who she is. And this discovery allows her to make a significant impact in the lives of her clients, colleagues, friends, family and others.
Meet Ashley, and learn how to turn uncomfortable periods of transition into your best opportunities.
Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you grow up?
The first half of my childhood was spent in San Antonio, TX and the second half was spent in a rural town in Arkansas. So I feel like I’m both a country girl and city girl!
When I was growing up, I watched my father build his own business to create a brighter future for his family and this narrative of “anything is possible if you put your mind to it” was ingrained in me from a young age. Little did I know what a profound impact it would have on my life.
Can you think back to your 22 year old self? Tell us about your first job and where you started out.
I studied liberal arts as an undergrad, so I never anticipated that I would move to Manhattan to become an entrepreneur.
My first position after college was at a non-profit, where I worked with college students. But, my love for the topic of beauty, creativity, and fashion led me into New York City and the rest is history.
Can you share more about your passion for beauty, creativity, and fashion?
One of my core missions is to bring authentic beauty in the world and inspire people. Growing up, I had always been told I should be a “model” because I am so tall. While it was meant as a compliment, those comments led me down a path of unhealthy behavior… because all I saw in the magazines were models who were too skinny to be healthy. I was invited to be on the founding team for the first “no photoshop fashion magazine,” Verily, where I got to take a deep dive into media and entrepreneurship through a publication that celebrated women.
Which brings me to your mission. Can you tell us more about your work?
My mission is to help women thrive personally and professionally. Bloom, Lovely helps women expand their mental limitations by offering free daily e-meditations delivered to their inbox each morning.
Appleseed Communications helps rising female entrepreneurs get the media attention they deserve. Appleseed is launching a new initiative. For every client we serve, we will to give a micro investment to women to launch their own businesses. We’re looking for partners who have the infrastructure in place to connect and mentor these women. We have a BIG GOAL to launch 100 companies in 1 year. So we’re looking for partners to make this happen.
Amazing, and congrats! Can you recall what experiences led you here?
When I was in my mid-twenties, I found myself at a crossroads. I looked at my life long and hard and examined the trajectory I was on. Living in Manhattan, I felt overworked, underpaid, and frankly, exhausted. I had recently broken up with a boyfriend, felt alienated from my friends and – more concerning – my own voice.
This “quarter life crisis” was the catalyst I needed to take drastic action. I bought a budget round trip plane ticket to France for a month… without any money, a plan, or anywhere to stay. My only promise to myself was that I would journal every day I was there.
30 days later, I had written over 250 pages and was happier than ever before. That solo journey taught me volumes about resilience, reconnected me to my voice, my soul, and the hunger in my heart to serve. Renewed with a sense of clarity, I returned to the US excited about life and with more direction.
All of my current projects are a result of that month in France. I recommend it to everyone.
What has been the result of doing mission-driven work?
It motivates me to take risks and step outside my comfort zone every day. As a result, I have been able to help launch four businesses before turning 30 and offer employment opportunities and service to dozens of entrepreneurs nationwide.
Soon, Appleseed will launch a new program to provide micro-loans to women in developing nations to fund their own start-ups. I’m excited about this new global expansion and the potential for massive impact that will reach for generations.
What’s the biggest challenge you face, especially when it comes to doing mission-driven work, and how do you overcome it?
Because I am so passionate about building something that can serve as a vehicle for freedom and empowerment, I pour my heart and soul into it. As a result, I often struggle to separate myself from my work, take time off, unplug from thinking (and talking) about it with everyone I meet, or take setbacks personally.
My morning routine, daily positive affirmations, and a circle of loved ones who hold me accountable help me create balance.
Many 20 to 30-somethings are still struggling to get clear on their mission. What advice do you have for them as they’re going through a transition?
The truth is life after graduation is hard, but with the right perspective, the transition into post-graduate life doesn’t have to be as difficult and can be an incredibly awesome new phase of your life.
Identify your why. What lights you up? Who do you want to serve? Consider the legacy you would like to leave the world by your life and the kind of person you would like to become. Let your dreams be your motivation for unprecedented action.
Start now. Transition periods can be rough. But I say that it is in the phase of transition that miracles happen, because you are open to change. Still, thoughts like “what if I don’t have what it takes? What if I make the wrong choice?” flood into your mind, right? I learned that you will never feel ready, so don’t wait for the right moment to begin. Taking action is the only way to make progress. No matter how small the step, everything is progress, so keep going.
You can learn anything. I will let you in on a secret: the economy is changing. Success Magazine recently called this upcoming seismic shift, the “You Economy”. This means that it is becoming harder than ever to find that “safe, secure job” but also easier than before to launch your own business. You already have everything that you need. All the knowledge that you need to know is out there. If you don’t have the answers, someone out there does! Become a seeker — find people and ask questions.
Celebrate the journey. It can feel paralyzing not to know where to start. But know this: there is no destination; we are all in a constant state of becoming. (And hint: half the time your elders have no idea what they’re doing!) Celebrate every step of the process. Embrace the journey that comes with learning something new and serving more people. You get more than one chance in life. So start taking chances.
Are you going through a transition? How are you coping, and what part of Ashley’s story and advice resonates the most? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.