We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I love this question. Before answering this question, I had to take a minute to check the definition of risk. Upon my research, here are some of the descriptions that are associated with the word risk. 1 : possibility of loss or injury : peril. 2 : someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard. 3a : the chance of loss or the perils to the subject matter of an insurance contract also : the degree of probability of such loss. b : a person or thing that is a specified hazard to an insurer. Those definitions above really confirm for me that life is all about perspective. There’s always going to be a possibility for loss in everything that we do, and that should not be the thing that holds us back from achieving our wildest dreams. Understanding the value of the lesson behind taking a risk makes it a little bit more worth it. When you’re taking a chance regardless of the outcome, a lesson is always learned that helps for the next risk you want to take.
Of course, I didn’t just have this perspective all the time; it took some self-work and therapy that helped me change my view of fear when it comes to achieving the things that I want. These are still things that I’m working on every day. Changing my perspective on taking risks has allowed me to start to live in my purpose and trust in myself. Throughout that process, learning to set intentions and working towards those things has made taking risks a little less fearful because it helps you focus on the goal.
One of the first risks that were scary for me was quitting my full-time job that I had full benefits and had been there for almost six years to start my freelance makeup career on a full-time basis. As a creator, you know it can be terrifying in the beginning part of knowing if the work will be consistent enough to sustain your life.
I had to trust everything that I have learned about the business up until that point while sharpening my craft, connecting with other creatives, and setting myself up in the best way. It has allowed me to have such a better quality of life by taking a chance on myself. I have met so many people that I would have never met had I still stayed there. Some of my best opportunities have come from taking risks.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I grew up in Georgetown, Guyana, a city where diversity and culture exposed me to many different women as well as skin tones, bone structures, etc. All my life, I’ve always been a very creative person. At a very young age, I picked up painting. I never thought anything of it then; it was just a hobby. A few years later, I got into makeup by just playing around in it and then realizing how similar it was to painting and the only difference was the canvas. Makeup for me has been an outlet of expression, the place that I feel the most comfortable, carefree, and in my element. There’s something about the gratification you feel when you can make someone feel great about the way they look or giving them a different perspective of how to look for things that best compliments them. My makeup style can be described as a soft glam that enhances your best features.
My journey as a makeup artist has honestly been transformational for me. I’ve always had a great support system at home, which has allowed me a lot more room to be creative and jump deep into my ideas or projects that I want to see through. When I realized that makeup was what I wanted to do, I told my parents, who supported me from the beginning. I started to work on my skill almost every day, practicing on my friends and family, which I do until now because practicing is essential for every gift you have. I applied to makeup school, completed that, and then got my first makeup job at a well-known makeup company I worked at for about six years. After quickly working my way through that company on my final year of being there, I realized that there was no other avenue for me to grow, and if I didn’t leave at that moment, I probably would’ve still been there. I am forever thankful that I decided to pursue this 100% on my own and start my freelance makeup career. Starting my makeup freelance career was a Journey that I had no idea about but was very eager to get started. No matter how much you prepare, you still run into unforeseen circumstances that you have to work out while being in the field. Using all of the knowledge that I’ve gained through working for that brand and managing a few makeup stores in New York, I was able to take some of that information and transfer it over into having my own business, which allowed me to set up the foundation of where I want to start my business. Thankfully all of the connections I have made throughout the years of being with that brand, meeting new people, and gaining new clients from that business was the setup I needed to get the ball rolling. All of the fantastic clients who rode hard for me continue to send me more business because they also believed in the goal.
Throughout my time of being an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that it is important to learn how to sell yourself because you are the first product that your customer sees and Word of mouth it’s the best key because someone is speaking from their experiences which usually is a higher chance of someone booking you off of that referral, so every interaction matters and your first impressions are everything. It’s also important to invest in yourself and invest in your craft. Take that leap of faith and trust in your ideas. Connect with other creators that can help take your brand to the next level and always remember to uphold the integrity of your business even if it means turning money down. Maintaining your business’s integrity and values is fundamental in creating a brand that people can always identify because of its consistency.
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.
So I work mostly in between New York and Atlanta and while I’m in Atlanta some of my favorite places to visit are Slutty Vegan, Tom, Dick & Hanks, STK, and South city Kitchen.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Firstly, I would love to thank God, everyone who has contributed to my growth and took a chance on me. Most importantly, my family, who have been there all the way, committed to my ideas and so supportive. My parents are my rock, and my mom has been instrumental in the woman I have become. Having a great circle of friends that you can rely on upon without jealousy and shame has been great. Thanks to all of you.
I love books! Some books contributing to my growth are Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks, Get Good With Money by Tiffany Aliche, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and The Four Agreements by Peter Coyote. I could do on forever.
Mel B Elder