Aside from the fact that we’ve never actually met, Ashley Johns is someone that I consider a friend. Ashley and I have been in virtual contact for probably over three years now and it all started when we connected on bodybuilding.com.
I can’t remember who reached out to whom, but I’m so delighted we started messaging each other. We seemed to be facing similar struggles, chipping away at similar goals and sharing similar beliefs, and so we found comfort in consulting with one another on occasion.
To this day I still virtually follow Ashley and she still virtually follows me. I’ve watched her blossom into not only a strong and healthy role model, but also a successful business woman! It’s so inspirational to see how far she’s come.
“Fierce Forward” is Ashley’s mantra which, if you’re like her 12,000+ Facebook Fans, resonates well with people. Not just those interested in bettering their physique and health, but also men and women facing non-fitness related struggles. It appropriately highlights what Ashley believes in and what she’s working hard at sharing with the world.
From conquering her own fat-loss journey, competing in bodybuilding, working admirably through what she calls her “rebound” and beginning her own Jewelry company, Ashley continues to blow me away. So, it is with great honor that I share with you this exclusive interview with not only a beautiful, confident business woman, but also a great friend – Ashley Johns.
Fierce Forward. My mission is to encourage and empower individuals to move fiercely forward towards the life they want.
Why did you decide to start your Fierce Forward Intention Bracelet company?
After walking away from dieting, I had to let go of the control and find my balance again. It was a tough year for me in doing so and it seemed like no one else had experience a rebound like I had, or was openly sharing about it on social media. I needed something to remind me to never give up, because there were many times when I began fighting with my own body image issues that I just wanted to throw the towel in, but it's not in my spirit to do so. I had been thinking about this idea for a year and then began writing down what I thought the most important words were in moving fiercely forward, towards a goal. What was it that my community of Fierce Fighters, that anyone out there, has to overcome to achieve a goal? I then began my search for African Trade Beads. I first saw these many years ago and remember being captured by how unique they were and that they were more than just beads, they had a story. The beads I use are all hand made by women in Africa and go back to supporting their Trade and supporting them as women trying to make a life for their families, where opportunities for work are scarce. It took me months to find the right beads after creating the Limitless Collection [first collection]. Things just began coming together, but still, it took some time finding the right resources that could help me execute my vision. I went to Peru to volunteer with disabled and poor families and climb Machu Picchu all in three weeks. It was there that I realized how much opportunity I have back home and how lucky we really are. I became very grateful those few weeks and my mind raced at night thinking about what I wanted to do for others with these bracelets, what they would mean. I got home and finished piecing the last parts of the puzzle together, and in November 2012 on Black Friday, launched the Limitless Collection!
At first, I created Fierce Forward as a mantra for myself and wanted to help others so I created a space to share the things that inspired me on my fitness and health journey. The first three years, I worked at it and it was and will always be my passion, so it came naturally. As soon as my community began growing above 5,000 Fighters, people were asking for hats and shirts, so I delivered! I realized that I had a faithful community of women and men who were LIVING this Fierce Forward Lifestyle I was projecting and teaching them about. I realized then that this is more than just a "page," that this is a lifestyle and a brand and it has meaning to others. It's interesting to look back on something you've built because at the time I was building it, I had no idea it was under construction to become this beautiful creation and way of living!! I just was following my heart. My mind never stops moving forward....I'm always in tune with my inner voices and dreams. With growing a business and a brand comes a lot of trial and error, a lot of falls and rises and a lot of risk. Sometimes I wonder if tomorrow everything I've worked for will go away. I don't ever want it to because I've worked so hard at building this and love what I do; genuinely, love what I do!!! But so that idea, that fear, is always there and I've spent a lot of mental energy working to combat that and turn it into fuel for my passion to continue carrying out my visions. I have grown in this respect and keep my "worst case scenario" thoughts in check and focus on everything positive that is in my life. I know I have more work to do and no matter how many obstacles stand in my way or pop up week by week, I continue moving forward toward what I want.
Two words: Fierce Forward. I think before you choose to move forward, you have to really decide if there's passion behind your purpose. Do you really want to live the life you envision? Envision it and then you have to lean in, plunge forward and go to battle with your "hesitant" voices if you want something bad enough. You will always have to fight for that which is exceptional and there is always risk in going to battle. The good news is, you will not lose your life in this day and age going to battle; you will simply fall and then choose to remain down or get back up and continue your work moving forward. To be a business owner, an entrepreneur, a fighter, a strong woman, you have to move yourself in new ways every day. Falling, standing up, breaking then learning how to bend and rebuild are all a part of the journey of something bigger in your life. Above all, be passionate for what you give to the world.
I always find myself returning to A.C. Ping's books: Be, Do, Faith. They are transformational and they will always bring me back to my purpose.
How can people reach you?
firstname.lastname@example.org www.fierceforwardforlife.com or my Facebook page I'm very active on with healthy recipes, motivational ideas to stay passionate about moving forward: facebook.com/fierceforward
What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. - Henry David Thoreau
Success is getting and achieving what you want. Happiness is wanting and being content with what you get. - Bernard Meltzer
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