If women's empowerment were one word in the dictionary with a photo, Ashley L. Eubanks, gets my vote for THAT photo. Ashley is the founder of The Beauty Initiative Inc. The organization's "Help Her" Campaign has set the bar when it comes to helping out thy fellow wo-man. Her story is the perfect example of how one woman can make a huge impact on a community and other woman with time, effort, help, and a vision! Ashley gave me some insight on how she manages the organization, the pitfalls, and the reward.
As an advocate for women, what led to get into this line of work?
Initially The Beauty Initiative began as an organization for me to share my love and expertise for beauty to women in need. Being a licensed Esthetician and owning my own private label cosmetic line I wanted to give back. While sharing the workshop materials I created to assist the women in transitioning back into the work force, I kept being asked for tangible items. Menstrual items were on every list, normally close to the bottom of the list. It wasn't until I seen a homeless woman close to my age panhandling and obliviously on her menstrual cycle. My heart broke and I knew I had to do something! For my 30th birthday I requested everyone to donate menstrual items and instead of going on a fancy trip, my close friends helped me pack bags for women in our community. We collected over 15,000 individual items!! Now we're approaching 50,000 items! The rest is history.
What inspires you to keep going when things get tough?
When life gets tough, my 9-5 gets rough or I'm just discouraged I repeat these words “if I give up, who will help Her?” I refuse to give up because these women haven't given up. No trial in my life can compare to knowing they are hungry, cold, sleeping on concrete and don't have adequate necessities. I HAVE to do this mission. I love my sisters I serve that I can't chance it to someone else doing it if I give up. Prayer, family, friends and scheduled self-care rituals keep me inspired.
Although your business is a non-profit, you have to market it to the right people in order to serve others and to reach the people that you want to help. What are some methods you use to market your nonprofit?
The Beauty Initiative is built on several initiatives to help any and every female in need. Being that I'm a woman, I believe me reaching out to other change makers, companies and potential facilities to serve is how we market. Since our humble beginning we have had generous sponsors that allow us to give to the women that need it most. We are very present on social media, send monthly newsletters and attend local events to promote our mission.
Running a nonprofit means that you have to work on several different tasks all at once. How important has mastering multitasking been for you?
Multitasking is vital. Being that I have a stressful 9-5 I have to have serious discipline. Balance is important to me and helps me run this mission efficiently. I have sacrificed leisurely scrolling social media or watching hours of television to use that time to complete tasks that will assist this dream. I'm often teased because I am adamant about my to-do list and scheduling. But at this point I have to create are marketing materials, be the face of the brand, plan events, meet with prospective facilities to serve, make monthly deliveries, do street deliveries, meeting with sponsors and everything else! As well as be Ashley! Yet it keeps me focused on my goal. Which is to help as many women I can.
Discipline + Sacrifice = Balance
What would be your advice to another woman who may be thinking of starting their own nonprofit and what are some steps you think they should take to get ready?
1. Do it with your heart or don't do it at all. I give my last (literally) to ensure the sisters I serve have what they need. It's an honor to serve others and I am happy to do it. By doing this with all of my heart, sponsors have been so gracious. I needed soap one week and by the end of the week we were offered 1,000 bars of soap!
2. A major key to nonprofits is staying in our lane. If you are operating in your passion or expertise then you're doing your part. Many will jump on the bandwagon because it's popular. But that success is temporary. I measure success on how many lives I can make better, not on the acknowledgement I receive.
3. Do your research. I want to be educated on the products we give and be able to educate the women we serve. Reading is fundamental to build your organization. I pride myself on reading about hygiene, health and periods!
4. Collaborate. In business many will not collaborate with others. What I have learned about business and organizations has been from someone that has begun before me. I enjoy helping others create their brand or establish a nonprofit organization. That will not just help them, but it will help OUR community!
What are your future goals for “The Beauty Initiative” and how can people support your movement?
Our next two initiatives are so special since I work in education.
1) HERpack which is a one-time use bag for female students in our local schools. Many schools in my area do not have sanitary pads for girls. Girls were either forced to go home or to make due until school was over. We are launching this initiative in August and have 25 schools that eagerly signed up to receive the HERpack to ensure girls do not miss school or go without.
2) Hygiene University is a curriculum based hands on approach to teaching hygiene, puberty, self-love, and of course periods to young people. Working with teenagers journeying their way through puberty has its ups and downs. I've learned that hygiene has a BIG part of their everyday life. Yet some are not taught the basics of self-care. This can result in low self-esteem, poor hygiene and bullying. After teaching many workshops my team and I have established it is necessary to teach hygiene at a major level.
Being the leader of a nonprofit can be tough but I always remember why I started. Passion can take you far. When there is no ROI, return on investment you will still be fulfilled. Hygiene has taken over my life, my mind, and most importantly my heart. So this should be provided to all people, not just ones who can afford it. Thank you Brandy for allowing me this platform to share our mission and my ministry! It's hygiene to some but for me it's my life's work.
But wait...get an idea of what Ashley and her organization has accomplished below:
We started in August 2016
We regularly distribute to over 10 facilities
We do fulfill monthly requests for shelters/facilities
We have collected 50,000+ products
We are sponsored by 9 companies for our initiatives
In 2018 we hope to launch Shower+ a mobile shower and hygiene unit
Others can conduct a drive and we'll send the packaging supplies for them to help the women in their community.
Join the cause and learn more about “The Beauty Initiative” at www.beautyinitiativeinc.org