Q&A with Ashleigh Powell
Introducing this beautiful, inspirational soul - my dear friend Ashleigh Powell, co-founder and former director of Axel & Ash - publisher behind much loved and popular journals, such as Wanderlust, Bucketlist, Road Trip and my personal favourite Pause. Ash is a Sydney based entrepreneur who has inspired me along my journey so much. From the first time I picked up her journal ‘Pause’ (which literally changed my life in so many ways), to the first time I met her over a year ago, she has continually inspired me to chase my dreams and live out my dream story!
Today we talk about her personal and professional journey so far, and how nearly a year ago she had a life threatening motor vehicle accident, which resulted in her being in hospital for over six months, and being forced to let go of her company due to unfortunate reasons. Ash has certainly been put through the ringer this past year, so to speak, but being as brave and resilient as she is, she has remained positive and has come out the other side stronger and more determined than ever to embrace all the incredible possibilities in her second chance of life.
So find a cosy spot to relax, and enjoy this interview. My hope is that Ash will inspire you along your journey as well.
Love Sally x o
Tell us a bit about yourself, and what you do?
My name is Ashleigh, but most people call me Ash. Right now I am a full-time patient who is working very hard to walk again! On the 27th September 2019, my life changed forever when a 4wd hit me negligently off my scooter. My injuries were so severe that I almost died right there and then on the gravel! However, I was saved by a true angel, Pete the paramedic! If it wasn’t for his actions in the short amount of time he had, I would’ve been gone. He literally saved my life and I will forever treasure the bond that was created from that night!
Prior to my accident, life was very different and very busy. I was running my own design & publishing house, Axel & Ash. I managed a full team in our Surry Hills office. I was travelling a lot and had been for several years. I loved what I did. I started the company from scratch back in 2012, having only one journal to then fast forward to now, growing and building to what it is, where our products were selling all over the world. It was such a wonderful thing to eye-witness. Each product was like another new little baby! And I loved seeing them in people’s hands and how the journals inspired them!
Coming back to today, everything has changed since the accident. From my health with being in hospital for 6 months and learning again how to do basic things like walk, to being forced to let go of my company due to unfortunate reasons. You could say it’s been the worst year of my life! but it’s made me stronger than ever and a lot of positive things have come out of it! So I am now officially starting with a blank canvas. From my health, to starting up a new company. It’s my second chance I’ve been given in life. I’ve packed up and let go of all the bad and opening my heart up to all the new and wonderful possibilities! I am truly so lucky, grateful and happy to still be here. My aim now is to build an incredible company with the sole purpose to help & inspire others. Changing the world, one book at a time!
When did you realise that this was your passion or what you wanted to do?
As a little girl I was always fascinated by other countries and loved the idea of travelling to see them. I would cut out pictures from travel brochures and put posters up of Canada, Europe and the US. I would just day dream and imagine myself going to all these unique & incredible destinations around the world. So I guess that’s where all the ‘wanderlust travelling’ came from. It was and always be instilled into my heart to explore and discover new places.
In regards to making & creating books, ahhh I always wanted to be a writer. I loved the idea of capturing stories. Since I was 10, I wrote as a hobby and didn’t think it would be a profession. That was not until I was 21 and a friend of mine asked what I liked to write. It was the first time someone ever asked me about it. She asked “why don’t you do it more?” It was the first moment it dawned on me that I could actually do that. I guess that was when the spark was lit and I started chasing that dream. 5 years later and lots of adventures overseas, I came back and made it come true and started Axel & Ash!
What’s been your biggest accomplishment to date?
Jeez this is a hard one. I don’t think I can choose just one. However, my equal top 5 would be:
Creating a strong body & mindset that allowed me to survive this accident and to walk again!
Completing the Camino de Santiago - A month long trek, walking over 800km!
Starting a company from scratch and it being known world-wide.
Creating 4 x best-selling journals that were sold in the biggest retailers I dreamed of getting into; Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie!
Ticking-off so many items on my bucketlist already!
What has been your greatest challenge in life so far? How did you overcome it/how are you working to overcome it?
My biggest challenge has definitely been recovering from this accident. There are just so many components that arise from it that you wouldn't even realise. Firstly, there is the physical component, as you are in a lot of pain every day and you have to push past that breaking point, just to get back your motor function skills and improve forward. It's pain like you’ve never experienced and every single day!
Then there is the mental side which is just as difficult as the physical. Being stuck to a hospital bed for a long time unable to move was really tolling, to then getting all the flashbacks / nightmares that come along with the accident and the 10 operations I’ve had to have. It’s really really tough!
Then add on all the ‘everything else that suffers’, your family, to not being able to work and losing my company - too then not just being able to socialise, do basic exercise or even clean my room/house. I wouldn’t wish what I've experienced on anyone.
However, given all of the above, I guess I am overcoming it, by not giving up and really trying to think of the positive things that are coming out of this year as well. It’s really easy to focus on all the bad, but when you look at the good things, it really changes your whole day. To help me do this, I try to start my day off with 3 things that make me happy, laugh, I am good at or just are positive to think of. For example, I think of how many incredible new friends I’ve met through this, or how cute a koala is, my sister telling a funny joke or that I am doing really well at physio. We can be really critical of ourselves and should be way more kind and positive to ourselves. Because one of the biggest lessons I learnt is that all the small stuff we sweat on, doesn’t matter in the end. Our family, our friends and the experiences we make and the legacy we leave behind is what truly fulfills our soul! So no matter how hard life gets, there is always a way, even if it is step by step - it’s never worth giving up on!
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Passionate. Strong. Determined. Dreamer. Carer.
What are three things you are most grateful for?
My family & friends
Every brand new day that I get to wake up too!
What do you love most about yourself?
My strength & resilience. I am a fighter and don’t ever give up. I guess I like to be the underdog and prove what I can accomplish when people tell me I can’t.
How important is self-care to you, and how do you take time out just for you - to nourish your soul?
Self-care is so important! It is like a critical ritual that you must do to function at your best state! I realised this a few years back when I was burning the candle at both ends. I was just not giving myself enough time for ‘me’ in the day. I was at a point in my life of exhaustion and I really needed to slow down.
After getting to this point, I pressed pause and ended up creating my ‘Pause’ journal which is a weekly journal that makes you exhale and put yourself first. So I start doing exactly that! I journal once a week, I then give self-care to myself by reading, listening to a good Podcast or some good tunes, pampering with a facial or nails, I like to make something delicious or a new recipe, go outside in the sunshine. All of this is encompassed by giving myself an ‘Ash day’ or ‘Ash hours’. This is where I give permission to myself to do whatever I please and get lost and creative in whatever I am doing. By the end of it, you just feel so refreshed and pumped. It feels like my soul is smiling and giving me a hug because I just allowed time for it to feel love, fun, care and no pressure at all.
What’s your favourite way to move your body?
Yoga these days. I love the feeling of my body being relaxed, stretched and limber for the day!
If you had a self-care box you could open up when you needed some timeout, what goodies would you fill it with?
An eye mask, candle, raw treat, journal, fresh tea leaves, essential oils and a face-mask!
What’s the best advice you have ever received in your life?
There is no harm in trying!
Tell us about a random act of kindness you have done for someone else to brighten up their day?
I got my sister's car cleaned. She never has time to get it done, so I thought I would surprise her and get it done for her!
What’s one thing you haven’t done that you really want to do?
See the Northern lights.
What’s one thing most people wouldn’t know about you?
I am a big basketball fan. I used to play like 5 times a week and rep basketball for like 12 years. I also collected basketball cards when all the OG kids played like Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen and Shaq! I was obsessed!
If you could be someone else for just one day, who would it be? Why?
I know there isn’t one yet, but I would love to be a female President or Secretary of State. I would just love to be able to do those crazy speeches they do and just be the Commander in Chief!
I don't know where I am going from here but I promise it won't be boring - David Bowie
Favourite Holiday Destination?
Favourite movie of all time?
Love me if you dare
Who is your celebrity crush?
Currently Chris Hemsworth & Ethan Browne!
If you were an animal what would you be?
A Lion for sure! Although a cute Koala would be good too!
Who inspires you? Why?
He is strong, yet kind. He is so funny & never says no to an adventure. He never takes anything too serious and is always there for you. He never gives up and is fit enough to keep up. He is the most perfect all round human. I love him to pieces and so proud to be his daughter!
Any advice for women following their dreams, but are afraid to take the next step?
Have belief and faith in yourself. That fire within you, fuel it and make it as big as you can. As all you have to do is take that first step towards making that dream come true, then the second step will follow.
You are the only one who can create the life of your dreams and live your dream story. No matter who you are or where you come from. It’s never too late. We have no idea what life has installed for us, however you can control the actions you take to achieve your heart desires. It won’t be easy, but the journey is the best part! When you’re old and grey reflecting back on your life, make sure it’s one hell of a movie to look back on!
To follow Ash on her journey and to connect with her, please click here @ashleighpowell_