#GathreGood with Ashley and Elyse of Bravery Magazine
Ashley and Elyse are the creators of the most amazing publication, Bravery Magazine. The magazine includes engaging activities and focuses on brave and strong women.
Tell us a little about yourself! To someone who has never met you, how would you describe yourself?
Ashley: I’m a good mixture of my Idaho roots and my current California life. I love being in the outdoors and the mountains and also enjoy shopping, design and photography. I’m an introvert at heart but can be outgoing when I need to be. I have two wild girls that I love fiercely and a husband who is my best friend and is always down for an adventure.
Elyse: I’m a mom to three young kids and I’ve had a big crush on my husband since I was a freshman in high school. I consider myself to be outgoing and I love a good party. Exercising, baking, reading, and writing are some of my very favorite things to do, and I’m a firm believer that anything in life can be represented by a quote from The Office.
You have created such a unique and amazing publication! We absolutely love everything you stand for. How did you come up with this idea?
Ashley: It was an idea that evolved from a need we felt in our own lives. We wanted better role models for our kids and we wanted a tool to help us teach them about strong women. First we wanted to make a club, then that turned into a subscription box, and finally one day it just clicked… why not a magazine? Even though we had no previous experience in publications and no idea what we were doing, it felt like something we could do and something that would work with our abilities.
Elyse: For me, it all started with an experience I had with my 4-year-old daughter. She was dressing up in a new princess dress and anytime she wore it, she transformed into a scared, timid damsel in distress. I asked her one day why she needed someone to save her and she told me, “princesses can’t be brave, so I can’t be brave”. I was dumbfounded. It hit me then that I hadn’t given any strong role model options to my daughter outside of princesses. Around the same time, Ashley had a similar experience with her daughter, so we came together and decided we had to do something to help empower our kids. After trying out a few different ideas, Ashley texted me one day with, “What if we make a magazine?” I was skeptical, but Ashley, being the dreamer that she is, explained this big idea to me and we just knew it was the perfect way to go.
Where do you find inspiration?
Ashley: Everywhere. Books, pinterest, storefronts, nature, our kids.
Elyse: I find inspiration from books. When I’m in a creative rut, I read a lot. I’m also inspired by simple everyday moments. Usually those tend to be with my family or in nature.
Partnerships can be difficult, how have you balanced your work and friendship?
Ashley: We’re always trying to find the balance of work and friendship. There are a few things we’ve done that have helped like trying to limit text work conversations (email if we can), try to always check in on how the other person is doing and schedule friendship time. Currently, we are both doing Whole30 together this January. It’s been really nice to have a common goal outside of work and something else to discuss and talk about.
Elyse: Sometimes being friends that are also business partners feels isolating. We got to a point during our first issue where we were spending almost every afternoon together while our kids played, every night together away from our husbands, and texting each other almost constantly. It drained on us both. We finally wrote out our own personal schedules and planned certain days to work together. We email to-do lists now instead of constantly texting each other, and we respect each other’s space. We also feel like it’s super important that we take time to do things together that have nothing to do with work. It’s nice to be reminded that we are friends first, business partners second. It takes a lot of trust to start a company with someone, so I’m very grateful that we’ve been good friends long before we became business partners.
What do you admire about one another?
Ashley: Elyse is an incredible writer — something I knew before we started this business. Since starting Bravery though, I’ve learned that Elyse is also incredibly organized (she’s one of those people that has ZERO email in her inbox), an insanely hard worker, and has a gift for keeping things moving and the momentum going. She totally keeps us on track and without her, Bravery would not succeed.
Elyse: Ashley is like a golden unicorn. She finds the best deals, knows the greatest restaurants, travels to the most exciting places, pulls off the hippest styles. She can make anything cool. But, what I admire about Ashley the most is that she is not afraid to think big. She’s the ultimate idea girl, and her ideas are always golden. Ashley’s also amazing at what she does. She has a little bit of background in design and photography, but she completely builds each issue of Bravery on her own and nails it every time. She has incredible talent in many things, but you wouldn’t know it because she’s is very humble and quiet about it. I give all the credit for this to her — Bravery Mag was her idea and she made it into what it is today, from marketing to branding to design. I’m really just along for the ride. I’ll hitch my wagon to her horse any time.
Success doesn’t come without a few failures. What were some pivotal moments when things looked bleak? How did you overcome failures that came your way?
Ashley: Putting our first issue together was a nightmare. We hadn’t thought things through very well and had only given ourselves a couple of days between our deadline of receiving artwork from our artists and our deadline of turning the magazine into the printer. I was putting things together as fast as I could, meanwhile I got sick and my toddler scratched my eye so bad that I couldn’t see and had to go to the ER. I was so done and ready to give up. We had spent our whole summer working and had skipped vacations, pool days, and everything there is to enjoy about summer. I was feeling very over the whole magazine. I didn’t think it was good. I didn’t like it. I wanted to give up. Elyse encouraged me to push through and stayed up with me all night as we finally got the magazine off to the printer at 4:00 am in the morning. I still felt unsure of our final product until I showed an advance copy to my 4 year old nephew. He wanted me to sit down with him and read him every page. He asked questions and laughed. He wanted to try all the projects. More than anything he was interested and enjoyed it. That was a turning point for me.
Elyse: Towards the beginning of Bravery, before it was a magazine, we started out with the idea of making subscription boxes. We were pretty far along in the process and one night we got together to make a prototype of our box. We spent an hour cutting paper by hand and only had enough to fill half of a bag for one box. It hit us at that point that our idea probably wasn’t going to work in that medium. It felt a little frustrating to go back to the drawing board and start from square one, but the idea behind Bravery kept tugging at is. We knew we had to find another avenue to make it work. We’ve made mistakes along the way, but I’m a firm believer that failures are the greatest teachers. We’ve learned a lot from our mistakes and they’ve made us stronger.
What is one key characteristic you think is required for a dream chaser to reach their goals?
Ashley: Hard work and sacrifice.
Elyse: Up until recently, I’ve lived my entire life being afraid of failure. I never tried new things or pursued dreams because I was scared of failing and of what others would think of me when I inevitably did. I’ve learned a lot about myself since we started Bravery, but the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that EVERYONE has something to offer in this world. It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve learned to push my fears aside and just do. It’s so important to cultivate that characteristic of doing. It’s fun to dream, but your dreams won’t go anywhere if you don’t take some action steps. When I finally took the jump and stopped thinking about the what-ifs, big things started happening.
We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What are some of yours? They can be simple + small, some bucket list items, or an overall grand hope for life?
Ashley: One of my big dreams for Bravery is to one day own or lease a space where we can sublease studio spaces for other small women-owned companies or artists/makers. The space would have a onsite childcare, a cafe, yoga studio and more. The main goal would be to bring many of the facets of your life together to one location to make things easier and life more enjoyable.
Elyse: A big dream I’ve had ever since I was a little girl has been to write a book. I’d love to write a novel, a collection of short stories, a memoir, a kids’ book…anything, really! It’s an idea that’s always floating in the back of my mind.
What are you most proud of accomplishing with Bravery Magazine?
Ashley: Finishing something. I’m a huge dreamer and starter. I’ve started so many businesses and projects but have never been able to finishing anything…mostly because I get too scared of the commitment and I set the bar too high for myself. It’s only because of Elyse that Bravery got off the ground. I’m incredibly proud of both of us for going out on a limb and leaping into the unknown.
Elyse: I’m proud that we actually made it come to life. Ashley and I have a history of having big dreams and never following through on them. Even if Bravery wasn’t successful, I wouldn’t care, because we did it! We followed through and made our idea a bona fide reality. It still feels completely surreal that we created something that we can actually hold in our hands. I’m very proud of that fact.
How do you balance your busy schedules with your family?
Ashley: I like to call it a juggle, because a true balance doesn’t seem to exist (at least not that I have found). I work every night, sometimes with Elyse and sometimes it’s just me and my laptop. During the day I squeeze work in between all the cracks (nap time, school time, quiet time) and try to shut my brain off in between. Some days it works, other days it doesn’t. Recently I just got a sitter to come in a couple times a week for a few hours. I feel like this is going to be a game changer. The key for me right now is planning as much as I can and then being flexible when things don’t go according to plan (which they never do when children are involved). My goal for this new year is having more special time with my kids. More mom dates and craft hours. More adventures and zoo days.
Elyse: Balance? What’s that? Ha! That elusive balancing act has probably been the most difficult thing about starting this venture for me. I am primarily a stay-at-home mom, so my work can easily take over my days. I’m always trying to squeeze things into nap times and after kids are in bed, but it often bleeds into my entire day. This year I’m going to try to be better about drawing a hard line between between work and time with kids by allotting designated time for work and designated time for kids. I feel the worst mom guilt when I look back at my day and realize that I didn’t read a book to my kids or spend any real, meaningful time with them. Hopefully I can learn to leave work at work. Those emails don’t need to be answered right away, right?
So many people who are just starting to chase their dreams admire and look up to you for what you have built. What do you wish you had known when you were in our shoes?
Ashley: Don’t worry about making things perfect. If you wait around for perfection then the day when your dream takes off will never come. Do your best and then just go for it. Building your dream is a process and the most important step is the first. Also, it’s going to be A LOT OF WORK. Like, more work than you can imagine and your life will never be the same. Make sure you are ok with those realities before you jump in.
Elyse: Honestly, I’m still in those shoes. I feel like I still have quite a bit to learn. I wish I would have realized at the beginning that no one really knows (or knew) what they’re doing. Everyone is just figuring it out as they go along. My biggest pieces of advice: Google is your best friend. Own who you are. Take confidence in the fact that YOU have something unique to offer to this world, then go and make it happen.
We all have gifts. You have a gift to gather_______. What would that be?
Ashley: Notebooks (at least that’s what my husband would say). I have a gift to gather the positive. I’m a big believer in positive thoughts leading to positive actions.
Elyse: I’m good at gathering authenticity (is that a thing?). I try hard to be honest and real. I’ve found that being open with others allows them to be open with me, and I love connecting with people on that level. I really value authenticity and admire when others share how things really are instead of a filtered version of their life.
When all is said and done, what do you hope to be known by or as? What is the legacy you’d like to leave behind?
Ashley: I already know I’m a dreamer so I hope that I’ll also be remembered as a doer. Someone with great ideas who saw how things could be better and did something about it.
Elyse: I want to be remembered as someone who was not afraid to take chances and was confident in myself. Those two things are what I’m always working towards mastering. I want to pass those traits onto my children through example.