We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Renne Nsonwu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley Renne, how does your business help the community?
I created my brand to help end animal exploitation, protect our natural environment, and improve human health through sustainable, plant-based solutions. Communities of color tend to be disproportionately impacted by climate and food related health problems, and as a mixed Black and Indian woman, I have a unique opportunity to reach these underserved audiences that don’t often learn this kind of information.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a former travel influencer who gave up the “glamorous” career of globetrotting the world in 2019 to reduce my carbon footprint and instead educate people about sustainable living. I changed my entire brand with the goal of teaching people relatable ways to transition to a sustainable lifestyle. I use my platform to kill stereotypes of the “hippie eco nerd” and show how sustainability is not only sexy, but completely doable for the average person and especially important for people of color. Marginalized communities are disproportionately affected by climate change and health issues stemming from non-sustainable ways of living. As a Black and Indian woman, I have a unique opportunity to reach these underserved audiences that don’t often hear this kind of information. I went down this path because the more I traveled the world, the more my eyes began to open up to how much it was being destroyed. During a trip to Bali in 2015, my mouth dropped wide open when I stepped onto a local beach covered in piles upon piles of litter. My first attempt to write about what I witnessed got me dragged on the Internet. I was called incompetent for calling out the pollution problem and the tourism sector’s role in it. At first it heavily discouraged me from wanting to discuss important issues like this, so I decided to stick to lighthearted travel topics–my safe space. But, outside of work, my personal life was telling a different story. I had begun to completely alter my lifestyle to a more eco-friendly one so I could not only talk the talk but walk the walk. I went vegan in 2016, bought an electric car in 2017, built a solar powered smart home in 2018 with energy efficient smart tech, transitioned my brand from travel to green living in 2019, and began learning about sustainable farming in 2020 – one of my biggest dreams is to own a vegan farm and animal sanctuary. Taking that personal leap led to so many incredible opportunities to further build my expertise and authority in an area I knew nothing about 6 years ago. I became a volunteer wildlife transporter for WREN, joined the board of a climate action organization called Climate Power, got a certificate in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University, became a host on the home and gardening streaming service SHG Living (Smart. Healthy. Green. Living), and just released my first digital cookbook “Basic Ass Vegan.” If there’s one thing I want other entrepreneurs, creatives, and activists to learn from my story–it’s that it is never too late to switch gears in life. My pivot took time, but now I can show people what sustainable living looks like, the many ways you can work toward it, and how we as individuals can make a big difference through collective action. All because I had the audacity to believe I could; and I need you to know that you can too.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend visiting, the perfect itinerary for a day in Atlanta would be a morning hike at Kennesaw Mountain, brunch at Cafe Sunflower, an early afternoon stroll around the Atlanta Beltline, chowing down on pizza from Plant-Based Pizzeria, enjoying an evening cocktail on the rooftop of Ponce City Market, grabbing a burger to-go from Slutty Vegan, and then ending the night eating our sluttified burgers in the hatchback of my car while catching a movie at the Starlight Drive-In Theater.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can’t possibly dedicate my success to just one person. I am so grateful to have a whole tribe of supporters that have helped me get to where I am today. My mom, dad and sister were my biggest cheerleaders growing up–they never once discouraged me from pursuing my unconventional dreams. My husband is my sounding board, confidante, and advocate. He reminds me every day to know my worth and then add tax. And I have to also shout out my close circle of girlfriends who I consider my personal mastermind of accountability partners: Sharina Harris, a 5x published author with more hits on the way; Jasmine Bacon, the creator of the Black yoga app Om + Essence; and Ashley Clark, the brains and beauty behind the event planning company ADM Events. My girls slay all day and inspire me in the process.
Other: My digital vegan cookbook: www.basicassvegan.com