When you think of the word ‘failure,’ what comes to mind? For many, it’s that feeling of uncertainty in where to go next or realizing that the success you planned for yourself or your business isn’t close to the reality.
But what if failure was a part of the process? What if failure wasn’t really failure at all, but a chance to restart and realign with your goals and purpose?
I had the opportunity to sit down with Ashley Graham—serial entrepreneur, boss babe, passionate brand-builder—who took her successful business, Brandesso, a PR agency blended with social media/brand communications, and completely rebranded.
She now operates both Brandesso and her new business venture, Your Brandista, a purposeful consulting and coaching business directly aligned with her heart and vision.
Although some would look at these major career shifts as ‘failures’ or ‘mistakes’ along the road, Ashley preaches realignment and honing in on your purpose, both personally and professionally.
When it comes to success, it’s not about doing something ‘right,’ it’s about finding what’s uniquely yours and following that intuition over anything else.
Sitting down with Ashley, one of the first questions I asked her was about her shift into this new avenue. After starting a business and establishing yourself, completely changing your course of action can be terrifying. But as the industry shifts, Ashley's main goal is to align with what best suits her clients—thus the need for Your Brandista.
And for Ashley, passion trumped all fear.
When she shares about her definition of ‘success,’ she says that it’s not financial, not based on numbers, and not determined by how many clients she works with or opportunities she has.
As one who has explored plenty of professional facets—from real estate marketing to content creation—she has no problem wearing many hats. But success, she says, isn’t determined by how much money you make or the number of followers on your page.
“Success is determined by the clarity you have in your business and how it influences those you work with.”
It’s also not guaranteed.
“It’s only by your failures can you truly know what success looks like,” she says, “And it’s not always what you think.”
When Ashley made the shift from focusing solely on Brandesso to launching Your Brandista, she recognized that she was trying to be more of everything rather than honing in on one important purpose.
“There’s the importance of ‘less is more’ when it comes to your offering,” she says, “The reality of the situation is your value is and should be based primarily on the one thing that you can show up as the expert in.”
“One of the common mistakes that I’ve made as an entrepreneur is thinking that I can offer the world to everyone,” she says, “After about two pretty big burn-out stages, I had a decision to make. It was either reflect and release that deep-rooted believe or walk away from this venture.”
In mid-2019, Ashley made the decision to transfer her business into more advising and coaching. While she believes wholeheartedly in ‘energizing' clients and their businesses through her unique ‘caffeinated' marketing and public relations blend, she doesn't just want to provide the tools. She wants to consult and coach her clients into creating these meaningful brand experiences and identities themselves.
And that's exactly what Your Brandista is (and why she now runs both ventures simultaneously).
While society preaches ‘knowing who you are’ and ‘focusing on your truth,’ Ashley has another, stronger message to share. For her, it’s not about over-exerting yourself and your talents, or limiting yourself to one thing.
It’s about finding your niche. And not being afraid to lean into it.
“Don't fix what's not broken,” she says, “But [in] the areas where you feel you could be thriving more, start to slowly transition into a new process for yourself, based on the feedback you receive.”
Although this process isn’t easy and may look like ‘failure' from the outside, pursuing and staying true to yourself and your vision will pay off.
Rebuilding not a simple or ‘traditional’ path. But as she says herself, “It will be worth it in the end.”
Marisa Donnelly is a Midwest-born, West Coast-based writer, poet, essayist, editor, and founder of an independent writing coaching/editing services company, Be A Light LLC.
She is the author of the poetry collection, Somewhere On A Highway, and has published thousands of articles culminating over 21.2+ million page views for Huffington Post, Bustle, Thought Catalog, and Briar Cliff Review, among many others.