We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Velez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
A couple of years ago, I tattooed part of section 51 from Walt Whitman’s poem, “Song of Myself” on the inner part of my left wrist. The line reads: “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” I learned about the Transcendentalist movement in high school, and I’ve always carried a fondness for Whitman, Thoreau, and Emerson. The year before I’d gotten the tattoo, in 2017, I’d experienced enormous shifts in my life, both personally and professionally. It caused me to really take a good look at who I was and what I wanted. When I did that, I realized many things that I’d thought I’d wanted had changed. The tattoo reminds me that change is imminent, and expected, and I can rise and shift, for I contain multitudes.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I graduated from college, I thought I wanted to teach or write, but got my first job as an administrative assistant at a commercial real estate firm right out of school. When the market crashed, I was let go, and spent the next year trying to find contract and part-time work (at the same time everyone else was). During that time, I discovered my entrepreneurial spirit and started my own company, Literally Efficient, which offered Marketing and Administrative Assistant Services. Through the years, I have maintained a steady client base, even during other full-time roles. In 2012, I started working for a digital marketing agency – my first full-time job in almost three years – and I helped grow it from a small 4-person team to over 15 employees with a national client base. Eventually, I decided to pursue something different, and I spent the next couple years working as part of in-house marketing teams for companies in the healthcare and software development industries. In 2018, I shifted my career trajectory to full-on entrepreneur as co-founder of a digital marketing firm that specialized in small businesses. I hadn’t really enjoyed my work like that since my first agency days, and I was set on growing another agency like I’d done in the years before. In the Spring of 2020, Covid rocked us – hard. I made the difficult decision to walk away and look for something that would provide for my family, and turned to full-time freelance work until I received an incredible opportunity to join the Content Team at Dragon Army, an Atlanta-based agency dedicated to inspiring happiness through creative, impactful work. I haven’t had the easiest career trajectory, but I certainly wouldn’t change it. These bumps and pivots have made me resilient and given me an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My little area of the city is actually located about 25 minutes north on I-575, in Woodstock. It’s charming and friendly, and a great place to raise a family. There are restaurants, parks, trails, shopping and just about everything we could want close by. We love Rootstock Bar and Restaurant year-round as a date night spot, but particularly when it’s warm, because we snag a spot on their gorgeous rooftop bar. J. Miller’s Smokehouse and Partner’s Pizza are family favorites for dinner, and Reformation Brewery’s downtown Woodstock location is the perfect place to grab a drink and walk around. (The downtown streets are open container, so you can get a drink or cocktail to go.) During the warmer months, you can always find live music, too. The city puts on monthly concerts in the park, and most restaurants have stages featuring talented local musicians.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been lucky enough to have some inspiring mentors, family members, and friends. I also have an incredible group of women living all over the globe to consult whenever I need support and encouragement. We met in May 2019 at a retreat in France led by writer, podcaster and all-around good human Jen Pastiloff. I’d been on Jen’s retreats before, and made special connections there, but this particular group of women has held me and lifted me up in a way unlike any other people in my life. Jen’s retreats and workshops are a way for me to re-center, re-focus, and remember that being human can be messy and beautiful.

Website: https://ashleygraceless.com/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyvelez/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashleygraceless

Image Credits
J. King Images Abigail Peyton Photography

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlana is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.