I met Ashley while attending the entrepreneurship program, LeanGap in Boston, MA. As a guest speaker Ashley struck a chord with me. She's young, passionate, hard-working, honors God, and has a vision for bettering young girls' futures.
Meeting Ashley after her speech made me realize that this extraordinarily talented young woman was also a kindred spirit. In high school Ashley found, what would be, her life's passion.
Empowering young girls and counterbalancing the societal presentation of what and where a women's value is.
It took one step to start the MOVEment. She and her best friend held a workshop for her peers on the media's portrayal of female beauty.
Then, the passion grew. She knew that this was what God wanted her to do with her life and slowly she began hosting more and more workshops. It was during this time that she began publicly speaking on the issue of female beauty and teenage self esteem at education conferences.
Now she has a book, Survival of the Prettiest!
She has utilized her strong convictions and kind spirit to grow MOVE into the MOVEment that it is today. By inspiring countless young girls to embrace their personal and unique beauty, she continues to be one of the most inspirational young business women that I have had the pleasure of meeting.
Her most admirable quality? ...Her persistence to fight for what she knows to be right.
She is a leader, a public speaker, and a co-founder of MOVE.
This is Ashley Olafsen.
My Interview with Ashley Olafsen
What do you do?
"I co-run an organization called MOVE, dedicated to helping females reach their full potentials! Through MOVE, I give workshops and run a 5 day summer program, and work with girls on issues like body image, media, self-esteem, mental health, and much more. I’m also the author of Survival of the Prettiest, and a TEDx speaker, Huffington Post Contributor, and more."
Ashley said that she took the original idea of having body image workshops on her school campus, and turned it into a business by simply doing it and never giving up.
Sometimes, all it takes is saying "yes". Doubt can be our biggest inhibitor in life. It holds us back from attempting the impossible and turning it into the probable. At times, it just takes making the definitive choice to do something and accepting your own conviction in order to find yourself doing it in the end.
Ashley, the Entrepreneurial Leader ...
What made you to want to spend your life empowering young girls?
"Hmmm...I don’t know if there was a primary influence, but I do know that my desire to empower females came from a frustration that there wasn’t more people empowering girls! Growing up, I felt like we were all going through so many various crisis’ and no one was talking about it...and I wanted to have those important conversations and I wanted to talk about it! And so, I started the path of working with females to help them reach their full potentials."
How do you overcome obstacles as a young entrepreneur?
"A big challenge was getting past a few really difficult months halfway through writing my book...I had writers block combined with self-doubt and also realized I needed to restructure the entire thing. I overcame it by recognizing what I DO bring to the table, and what my strengths are."
How did you reach a larger audience and acquire a following…. (beyond friends, family and friends of friends)..Any tips and tricks?
"I really wish I knew!! I don’t think that there’s an easy way to do it - at least that I’ve found - but I do know that bringing a newsletter sign up list to every event you attend is certainly important."
Why do girls need to be empowered?
"I believe that girls need to be empowered, because why shouldn’t every female be able to reach her full potential? Self-confidence and body image seriously influence the way a person thinks about themselves, and the way a person thinks about themselves influences their attitude towards life and what they believe they are capable of doing. And that affects EVERYTHING."
Where did you grow up? Has your family been supportive of your entrepreneurial career?
"I grew up in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and my family has been extremely helpful in empowering me to do the work that I do...my Dad is always down to creatively brainstorm with me, and my Mom actually edited my entire book!"
Biggest accomplishments, partnerships, organizations, alumni, clubs, activities
"I think my biggest accomplishment is creating a community of MOVE girls who support each other and look out for each other. Growing up, I was involved in theater communities and always felt and still feel very grateful to my theater directors who facilitated that positive, uplifting environment...and so I feel very excited that we have been able to create such a special community for people to grow up in."
Ashley, Beyond the Business:
Favorite stores, clothing brands, makeup, music, sports to watch
"I love love love H and M and Forever 21. I use all kinds of drugstore makeup, but I have to say that I really do love NYX - especially their lingerie line for lipsticks. SO GOOD! As for music, I listen to a wide range of things, but love happy/upbeat songs that I can dance or sing to the most. Right now, my favorite song is Sunday Candy! "
What past times or hobbies do you fit into your busy schedule and college studies?
"I absolutely love theater, and especially comedy...I think improv and stand up are brilliant and inspiring and leave me on the edge of my seat."
Athletic? "Haha I’m not very athletic, so I don’t really keep up with that :) "
What role does your faith play in your everyday life..?.... Work? ….mentoring other girls and the reason why you do what you do?
"Faith plays a huge, monumental role in the work I do - in fact, it is my biggest motivation and is largely THE reason why I do what I do. I really strongly believe that this is God’s purpose and life calling for me, and so I have to follow through and commit to what he wants. I believe that I am here to work with middle and high school aged girls, and so if that’s what God wants, I must do it."
What role models currently influence you, and/or as a child growing up?
"Growing up, I really looked up to people I read about in books...Hermione Granger was amazing because of her commitment to friendship and her intelligence, Scarlett O’Hara was impressive because she was a strong female who was slightly unlikable (and that was okay!), and there was another girl in an Andrew Clements novel who wrote and published an entire book as a PRE-TEEN! I remember being hugely inspired by her. Currently, I am very inspired by individuals like Leymah Gbowee, Emma Watson, Amy Poehler, Aziz Ansari, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more. "
*Ashley is a busy bee. She NOT ONLY runs MOVE and sends out MOVE's monthly newsletter, but also attends university as a full-time student!*
What college are you attending and what is your selected major?
"I am attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst & am designing my own major. I am calling it ‘Empowerment Through Education’ and I am double majoring in Political Science. I recently switched from a Communication double major!"
Goals for the future?
"A big goal of mine is to have MOVE [summer camps] running every week of the summer. I think it would be so incredible to be reaching that many girls. Another goal is to continue to make it as accessible as possible for all girls."
If you could accomplish or do anything what would you do without limitations?..... Will you attempt to accomplish this in life?
"If I could accomplish anything without limitations, I would work as hard as I could so that way every single female is able to reach her full potential. I would work to break down mental health stigmas, to spread awareness on unhealthy and abusive relationships, and I would work hard so that way all body types and shapes are normalized and appreciated."
Thank you to Ashley Olafsen for doing this interview with me. And I hope that you check out her & MOVE's sites below.