Ashley-Lauren is an ordained minister, recording artist and life-long entrepreneur. She is always finding ways to serve others and in addition to running her own company, is a leader at Elevation Church and a survivor speaker at The Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center. She’s lived in New York City for three years and taking advantage of all that life has to offer. She loves a good show and enjoys solo dates at the movie theater.
Q: Why did you become an entrepreneur?
A: I always wanted to be my own boss since I was young. I never viewed having a 9-5 job as being the safe or secure choice, in fact to me, it felt the opposite. I surrounded myself in college with business owners and even landed an internship at Chicago’s top talent agencies, LTA Chicago. The CEO, Lily Liu, took me under her wing and taught me a lot of what I know today. From there, I kept building my network, learning from others and taking a lot of unpaid and free opportunities. Whether I was unfolding chairs at an event or signing talent in for an open call, I was there to learn and that is how I went from unfolding chairs for other people to sitting at the head of my own table. While it hasn’t always been easy, and there have been season of blossoming abundance and seasons of…not so much…I have never once gone hungry and for that I am blessed!
Q: Tell us about your business.
A: I started my production company, Visionary Woman Productions, over ten years ago as a junior in college. I provide talent management, in which my top grossing client is my own father! Along with management, I offer industry coaching, headshot and model comp sessions, casting services, and all things production design.
Q: What is your personal mission or your big why?
A: My personal mission in regards to Visionary Woman is to help others successfully navigate the entertainment industry safely and wisely. I want performers to understand how to build not only a brand, but a business which can sustain them fully in life when performing is not an option.
In regards to ministry, my mission is to help people break free from the bondages of trauma and live a life of purpose. I want to see people thrive and be able to teach others how to do the same, so no matter what issue may come across they won’t lose themselves in the fire.
Q: How do you integrate work and home?
A: Before COVID, I would go to my local coffee shop for work so I had clear boundaries between work and home. Now, I’m at home and have a studio so there’s no real separation. I recently switched around my room to give a definitive line between my resting space and my business space which has been helpful. It’s home and comfortable, but when I’m in work mode, I get up at 6:30am and start my day as normally as possible with a set schedule. My desk is laid out with my plans of what to accomplish, and my virtual calendar is ready to go on my computer once I’m done with my morning prayer and workout! It’s been working out well but I have been contemplating getting a co-op membership, ha!
Q: What has been your biggest lesson to date as a business owner?
A: My biggest lesson has been to vet everyone. Not everyone is your ideal client and that is okay! I have learned to never go against my spirit with this, because the few times I did it ended up being a terrible situation. It is so important that I make sure the people I work with are a good fit in my professional life. I’ve ended up saying yes to clients who signed contracts then didn’t pay me for instance, which also shifted my business quickly to require deposits. You can’t just say yes, you need to make sure every single detail is in alignment with your process, spirit, and worklife. This has been my greatest lesson!
Q: Do you have any advice or wisdom to share with fellow fempreneurs?
A: I feel the need to encourage whoever is reading this to keep going. Not all is lost and never will be. That is a false reality which is bred by the hysteria and agenda of this world. You have a God-given gift to offer, and no matter any time, it can be used. I am a living testament to that, as I have been handed every bad card in life from sexual abuse and assault to discrimination, illness, and more. I have persevered through it all to be where I am by the grace of something much bigger than myself, which I believe is God. Success and sustainability lies within your ability to see beyond yourself and truly connect with the needs of others. Once that is achieved you will reach greater heights in not only your business but your life.