Ashley Girard of Welly’s Wellness on how her early days shaped the Entreprenista she’d become

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Describe your business in a few words:

Hi, I’m Ashley Girard — CEO and Founder of Welly’s Wellness. We sell prepackaged snacks, drinks and on-the-go essentials, as well as salads, fresh pressed juice + shots and more! Think of us like a healthy 7-11, but on wheels (and way cuter!). We also launched an MVP website and have shipped our yummy Snack Combos to 14+ states in our first 90 days. At least 50% of our brands are female or bipoc-owned businesses — and we are in the final approval stages of being able to accept EBT/SNAP, truly making healthy food accessible and affordable for all! I have 15+ years’ corporate tenure with massive consumer brands like K-Swiss, PUMA, TechStyle, RueLala — and an entrepreneurial spirit.

What was your background prior to starting your own business?

At 14 my parents gave me the gift of choice, I could:
1. Attend an all-girls high school, essentially becoming financially independent from that moment on (yes, at 14), or
2. Attend the same high school they both attended and they would pay for my college.

I chose the all-girls high school, knowing that my experience there would be a “down payment for a happier future.”

I went to school from 07:00-15:00 each day, had mandatory daily sports from 15:00-17:00 and participated in Debate, Theater and Student Government from 19:30-21:00. At the same time, I was one of the only students who also worked, which oftentimes involved washing my own classmates’ dishes on the weekends (and working as a Subway Sandwich Artist in the evenings, a store key holder at age 16).

It “paid” off and I was the first person in my family to go on to graduate from a private, four year college.

In hindsight, in a graduating class of just 43 women, I realized the profound depth of connections and confidence that women supporting women could provide. Naive as we often are in High School, I didn’t realize how truly lucky I was to have the freedom to learn, inquire and challenge without the distraction of men/boys in the learning environment.

Even with my full-time course load at Northeastern and two part-time jobs, I was also a Member of Delta Phi Epsilon International Sorority. I joined a sorority craving the sense of sisterhood and camaraderie that I experienced in high school, being voted to serve as Pledge Mom to usher in undergrads.

While a Junior at Northeastern, I also had my first serious health scare.

It was discovered that I had a rare congenital heart defect, requiring open heart surgery — less than 7% of patients with TAPVR survive into adulthood. Asymptomatic and in good physical health, this went undiagnosed in me until the age 20.Talk about rolling the dice, eh?

I wrote out my Last Will & Testament, at the same time I was studying for my Spring Semester finals and working two part-time jobs.

Cut to less than a year Post Op I ran the Boston Marathon (26.2 miles in 4 hours and 54 minutes!), raising $60k+ for the American Heart Association and Tedy’s Team. Bad ass, right?

Less than a year after that, I graduated from Northeastern with Honors, leading me to the first Phase of my career.

After 15 years of working 50-60 hour workweeks and holding executive leadership roles within iconic brands like PUMA, K-Swiss & TechStyle and managing P&Ls of $2M-$12M, I grew frustrated with making rich people richer and getting caught in the Corporate “drama.” I had no patience for mean girl culture in Fast Fashion, nor the predominantly male-driven executive board and how they spoke to/of/about women as disposable, abstract line items vs customers.

My original life expectancy was 27 — and there I was, at 35 I was not feeling any sense of personal fulfillment, “wishing” my life away, hoping the weekends would arrive sooner each week.

I know something had to change as the quality of my life was deteriorating.

It was then when I created my first Company, Ashley Girard Incorporated in 2018 with the intention to create a side gig, then eventually “make the jump.” I focused on building connections that brought me joy and was appointed (and still am), the Los Angeles co-chair of SoGal Foundation – the largest global platform for diverse women entrepreneurs and investors with 50 chapters across 6 continents.

The SoGal Foundation exists to change the status quo and trajectory for women and diverse builders – to get more women to own their narratives, goals, companies, missions, and futures. SoGal Foundation hosts educational programming, offers funding opportunities, trains investors, and promotes founder wellness; which all measurably impact the gender and diversity gap on the global level, as well as hyper-locally within each chapter.

As I continued to spend time mentoring and championing women around me, I began creating content to share and amplify my personal experiences with others and inspire them with articles on such as “How to Build Authentic Relationships that Nurture Your Net Worth“ and “I Tried Meditation to Calm The F*ck Down – Here’s What Happened“ “Gaslighting is the New Ghosting” and “7 (Free) Ways To Work Smarter, Not Harder.”

I wrote content for Millennials, as an elder Millennial :), to inspire and provide actionable insights in a real-talk, “older sister” POV.

I firmly believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

In 2020 (peak COVID era), I lost my full-time job, at the time seeing a decrease in Consulting opportunities.

I also personally have digestive issues with a rare stomach disorder (boy, did I win the medical lottery), limiting my food options. I could find snacks/quick food all around me at the gas station, convenience stores, food trucks — but finding yummy, healthy prepackaged snacks on-the-go was an ISSUE.

And what I could find was either too healthy (I don’t particularly get a hankering for carrots) and often too expensive, or prepackaged and TERRIBLE for me.

Why couldn’t healthy snacks like chips, crackers and even candy, be as easily accessible as a nutrient-scarce bag of yucky preservatives?

This inspired me to come up with Welly’s Wellness.

Welly’s Wellness is the first mobile self-contained storefront (patent pending) selling prepackaged food, snacks and beverages, as well as small household goods that are healthy and affordable. I am also in the process of getting approved to accept EBT, hopefully disrupting the food desert world as we currently know it.

Healthy food should be accessible AND affordable to all.

Even better, more than 50% of the brand partners I have teamed up with are women-owned businesses such as BeHave, It’s Nola, Sun & Swell, Say Yes Bar, to name a few.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I had a paper route at 12, and have had at least one job ever since. Fun fact — I got my workers permit at 15, where I was dethroned as the Burger Queen after a car hit me/drove through the drive through of Burger King my second week of work!

Jokes aside, I grew up in a family of 4 living on 1 military salary. I didn’t know the value of money until I went to high school, but at that moment, I knew it would enable me to create the life I wanted to live. I’ve had $200k+ salaries, and now in a current self-funded situation (not even paying myself yet), and happy to say I’ve never been happier.

I am not a caged bird — and I have a very clear understanding of what my time is worth to me.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out, and did it go as planned?

We launched our store with an in-person tasting with our closet Friends & Family to get product feedback — then extended our offering to online and introduced with our social community, too. We’ve also got 30+ amazing brand partners — and we found that by making beautiful content and tagging them, they’re keen to repost and give us the love! It’s like the best chainletter of love, ever!

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

I can reverse park a trailer BY MYSELF in under 5 minutes 😀

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I wrote an article on this!! Super passionate that there is no work-life balance, there is just life.

What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?

We’re live, in market and making revenue — a year ago I had designed and manufactured, and imported a custom trailer from china, it is patent pending with the USPTO, I secured 40+ brand partners to join our Pilot Program and our consumers LOVE our offering and have helped us improve our positioning/assortment.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

We are looking to launch our #2 trailer in CT/NY this summer — our vision is big — with 1,000 trailers in the next 5 years!

Learn more about the Entreprenista League and join today!

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