We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley C. Bickmann and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley C., have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
Work life balance is very important to me. I juggle a very busy schedule: Full time MBA student ( currently taking 5 classes), working part time at a Veterinarian Clinic (I love pets) and also starting my own business/brand. I consider all these as my work life and them I have my life: my adoring fiancé, Matthew, 2 adult dogs (Pit Bull -Cash, Rescue- Jade, and Pocket bully puppy- Zoe). I am very family oriented and like to see my family and spend time with them. I believe we are not promised tomorrow so make the most out of today, so I try to always be in touch with my loved ones. When I first started my business during the pandemic, I had plenty of spare time, then school began again and I noticed that I was becoming overwhelmed and full of anxiety. Time management is very important for anyone at all levels. Its not good to get so consumed with something that you begin to neglect yourself or others. I consider others all the time and try my hardest to have balance in my life. That may mean going about it differently for everyone, but for me Im a planner. I like to write things out for the week and month. Im far from perfect with this, but it helps. Self love is very important! life is challenging, especially starting a business from scratch, HUGE learning curve, but I want to be able to do something meaningful that I am passionate about and that takes hard work, time management, determination, self-love, and balance. The way I see it will you be truly happy if you only had one of the two, life or work? Probably not, so work at making time to have a equilibrium that is healthy and conducive to your self, loved ones, and goals.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business helps the community and/or world because I am helping to educate them on sustainability. I believe that climate change is the challenge of our generation. I believe that its a hot button issue due to the controversy behind whether it is a hoax or truth. Regardless of that, it does remain an issue. There is evidence that there are global issues facing this planet that we live on. What I do with my business is promote sustainability which is meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources. I want to help the people who dont understand sustainability and see that it doesn’t take a complete lifestyle overhaul over night to achieve. In doing this, I promote sustainability through the products I sell. Reusable tumblers and fair trade t-shirts. I take products that people are already purchasing and I educate them on why this product is better than the alternative. For example, Reusable tumblers diminish the use of throwaway plastic cups people use everyday like the ones Starbucks gives with your drink, my alternative is a decorated reusable Starbuck cup or Insulated Tumbler. With the ethical fair trade clothes, I investigate and research the manufacture and only sell T shirts and apparel from those that adhere to fair trade standards and that are Eco-friendly. I believe there can be an assumption or view that eco-friendly products are too expensive, frumpy, or “not their style”. Well, I take it a step further and add a creative touch to classic pieces T-shirts & cups. I want to show people that sustainability and eco friendly can be stylish. In doing this I hope to encourage them to put more thought into what and why they buy something and the disposal and life cycle of products and their consequences when done with no consideration for the environment. I am excited about the end result a few months to a few years down the line where I will be able to manufacture my own products (clothes) and help create something that people can share with others. I got to where I am today because of my desire to do this on my own. I knew I wanted sustainability to be a core value of whatever career I did, Honestly, I thought I would go into Sustainable Real Estate Development. Here I am today, not doing Real Estate but doing something to help educate and promote sustainable development to consumers. I thought it would be easy, It’s not, but I like a challenge. I am learning so much! I may not have all the sales I want right away or what some would call overnight success, but Im where I am supposed to be. I know I am planting the seeds for something great in the future. I have some nights where I want to give up because I’m so confused with everything it takes to build a brand, but I take a breather and come back to it another day with a new mind set. I hate to say it, but I have that instant gratification mindset at times and I have to compartmentalize what I am doing. That how I overcome the challenges. Im not the type of person to ask for help, so its researching alot. I learn one thing just to learn something else and its like learning 100 million things at once. From building a website, creating content for social media, creating design, researching products, finding the right non-profit to align my brand with. All while staying true to my core values of my brand. The lessons I have learned along the way are: Patience, Grace, Discipline, time management, and peace. I say peace because its very easy to get caught up in over-analyzing everything and comparing yourself to others and all the bad stuff, so keeping peace and to my self gives me clarity into what I am aiming to do. I would love the world to know that Sustainability/Ecofriendly/Ethical does not have to be BORING! it can be fun, glam, easy, and stylish. It doesn’t have to be go hard or go home. Just little act can make a difference, and if I can help encourage people to start with little act and they tell someone else and it continues to multiple people doing small acts than that alone will help make a difference. I cant save the world, but I cant help them see that the world needs saving! I am also really proud and excited about incorporating one more tree to my business. I will donate a percentage of every sale I have to this non profit and they will in turn plant a tree. This is something truly beautiful and inspiring.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Sunday-Biking at Buffalos Bayou as the sunsets. Brunch at French Rivera and Dinner at STQ. Monday-Blue Lagoon- swimming and scuba diving and Amy’s Ice Cream. Tuesday-Cypress Trails Horse back riding and Darbanb ShishkaBob Wednesday-The Color Factory/FOMO Factory for pictures/ Mural tour- El Tiempo for Fajitas Thursday-Houston Zoo and Brookstreet BBQ Or killen’s BBQ Friday-Sawyer Heights Drive in, Red Pepper for Chinese food (best cheese puffs ever) Saturday- Shopping in the Heights and City Center followed by Lunch at Seasons 52

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank my family and fiancé. They have been there for me through the very beginning and have supported, encouraged, and motivated me to start this endeavor. God’s grace for giving me the mindset to begin this and take the journey in stride. I have an amazing Mentor through out this process whose expertise in web design, branding, and selling handmade crafts has been a blessing, Alexis Rose, from Alexis Rose Design. There is also my sustainability professor from UHD, Dr. Morano, who helped me academically with everything I do know about Sustainability.

Website: http://www.ashbyro.com
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/ashby.ro
Other: www.etsy.com/shop/ashbyro

Image Credits
Ashby Ro LLC

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