Interview with Ashley Freeman
Learn about Ashley Freeman a leading Australian fitness and health expert and how she has built her numerous businesses to date, and her future plans.
Chris: Cool. G’day, it’s Chris here today and we’ve got a very exciting guest by the name of Ashley Freeman. How are you, Ash?
Ashley: Hey, guys! I'm good, thank you. Thanks for having me.
Chris: For those of you who don’t know Ashley, Ashley is one of Australia’s leading fitness, lifestyle, and healthy living advocates. I am a huge fan and I am sure that there are many people out there that know of you and that think that you are fantastic at what you are doing.
So today is all about getting to know a bit more about yourself Ashley, and your business life as well as your personal life and how they sort of interrelate. And I guess in terms of being able of just going straight into it…. if we can rewind a little bit? Can you tell us a bit about your background and I guess how you, sort of, ended up to where you are at today?
Ashley: Yeah, sure. Thanks for all of that to start with. I've always been in love with movement since I was young. I grew up on the coast in Cronulla, in Sydney, and so naturally, that's a really outdoorsy, active lifestyle. I played every sport that I could and I was really competitive. I grew up always loving movement and training and different kinds of things. As I got older, I had to choose between whether I would take my dancing further or my sport further, and I decided to take my dancing further. From there, after school, I studied dance, and then I began doing different kind of contracts and things, such as cruise ships and casinos and those different types of contracts overseas.
It was from there that I came back home to Australia and I decided to do my personal training course. I've been training a lot obviously to complement my dancing and I thought that it was something that I would like to take that next step further. And then, basically, kind of organically from there, little opportunities and things just started to come my way with training and different brands and just talking and meeting different people. It was never like a planned thing or a goal that I specifically had into the future, but I kind of just believe in taking any opportunity as it comes, sort of going through any doors that opens, so that's how I kind of just wound up where I am today.
Chris: Cool. And obviously, having a really big focus in the fitness space and I guess, in the healthy living, or like you said the movements space, it sort of … if you stay true to that, opportunities arise and like you said, if you kind of go with the flow, things make sense.
From memory you did, you know in the earlier days you had a boot camp style business and I think you did one comp or something like that way back then?
Ashley: When I was studying personal training, and as well doing a bit of dancing, I also had a part-time job, which is where I first started working specifically within the fitness industry, which was at Kirks, back where I was living at home. That is where I really developed my passion and my love for women's fitness mostly in particular.
After I finished my course, I decided to go out and do my own thing and I was running women's boot camp in Cronulla, which I loved as well. I was doing all those as well as getting really into training and applying my new knowledge at the gym. And so, I decided, "Okay, I'm going to get on stage and try this thing," which was bodybuilding and competing in that. I gave that a go, and then I ended up coming second at nationals for INBA in that season, so that was pretty cool.
Chris: Pretty impressive. Just giving it a go and doing it well.
Ashley: Yeah, I gave it a red hot crack, and it all turned out okay. I loved that. I don't know if I'd necessarily ever do that style of training and that kind of thing again, but I would never take it back. I feel like I learned so much about training and my own body in particular. I think everyone has a different experience, but I feel like I really learned how to tune in and understand the way my body reacted to different ways of training and eating and everything like that, so it was a really great experience.
Chris: Fantastic. Cool. Alright, so it's good to know about the background of yourself and so in terms of what is the day in the life today look like for Ashley Freeman in terms of business currently, and I guess what would an average workday look like for you.
Ashley: Generally, I love, at the moment, getting up really early, so I get up about at 5:30. From there, I'll have a quick look at emails and anything that was coming from the night before. And then, by 9 o'clock, I'd like to have my walks and my runs or a workout done. And then at which time, I'd come back, sit at the computer again, check emails.
I am also in the growth and development stage of a clothing brand that we've recently launched. It's all about getting those things done as well as finalising patterns at the moment, sending out any orders that have come in, looking to do different events and looking to grow that all the time, so I'm always learning. This is a totally new experience to me in that way.
And then as it is now, we're working on a new product, so I'm really excited at the moment to be working on an online training program, which is taking up a lot of my time, but it's really kind of reignited my real love for this industry and my love for training. It's the thing that I am most excited about at the moment. So yeah, it's cool.
Ashley: Yes, I think.
Chris: And you mentioned about the clothing. Obviously, the label, the branding etcetera. For those that don't know of it and they will in due time for sure no doubt. Spirit Bird Collective, is that correct?
Ashley: Yes, that's correct.
Chris: Cool. If you could summon up in one line what sort of clothing and what’s the whole vision behind that?
Ashley: Well, basically, in one line, yoga and sportswear made, designed, owned within Australia, and made from recycled lycra. So yeah, that's really exciting for us to be able to have our products made in Australia and made from post-consumer goods as well, which is really cool.
Chris: It's fantastic in terms of the sustainability and sourcing these in an ethical manner.
Chris: Cool. Alright.
Ashley: Every decision that we've made has been… We've been sort of having good karma the whole time, making sure everyone's happy, making sure every decision is made in a really positive way so that everyone is thought of. We've included a lot of local artists and designers, and most of our products are tied into another charity, so we donate part of our profits to those different charities. We try to make it really nicely rounded so we'd be able to give back as well as much as we can.
Chris: That's really, really cool, and I take my hat off to you because obviously there are many people out there that are much more, I guess, cosmetically can put something together and pretend it's there for not only giving people great clothing and value and meeting the need of what people are looking for, but also combining that with the mind frame of responsibility and ethics around it and added sustainability versus looking to make a quick buck which some people may be, and I don't believe that's the long-term path to…
Ashley: It's been a dream of mine for a long time, so for it to be actually happening right now is the best feeling, and I want to do it in the best way and just make sure that everything is right, that's why it's taken a fair bit longer than what we thought it would be. I was kind of like, "Oh, I'll just make some tights." Turns out it was going to be almost a year later until those tights are almost ready. But we just wanted everything to be right at the start and from the start, with everything perfect. Not put out something that's alright, and then have to catch up, but to start with a bang and to start with it all feeling just really good.
Chris: Fantastic. Cool. Hats off to you. And no doubt it's going to go off…. You've already launched it and you mentioned it's going really well, but no doubt it's going to continue on that path of going really well and obviously a lot of people didn't experience that and the whole thing and the brand idea around it. So, on to the next question.
Is there any top level decisions, moments, events that have happened that sort of shaped you moving forward on any of the projects you are currently working on at present? There may or may not be, but…
Ashley: I don't know. I think what I've learned is that... I don't know how to put this in words… Not necessarily a big moment of or a big kind of decision or anything, but I always learned now that when you're wanting to do something or you think you want to do something, and for some reason you don't want to fully commit to it, or you get a feeling like, "Ugh," You've got to just, I think, always listen to your gut, because your gut always knows. And unless you're 100 percent behind it in your heart, which I feel is like what I just always try to follow... every day in everyday decisions.
I don't know if I really answered that question. There's never really been a time or a moment… just every decision...really.
Chris: I think that's something a lot of people can take a lot of value from. And like you said, kind of being true to yourself and listening to your gut. Sometimes it can be scary thinking or starting something new, and obviously, there's a lot of people out there that have great ideas, and some continually battle with what their gut instincts is sort of telling them and feel uncomfortable to take that step, and I guess it's… Have faith, have faith in what your gut's telling you and just push forward and do what you're dreaming and what you believe in, I guess.
Ashley: Yeah, yeah definitely. Obviously just to follow your gut instincts always and just always do the right thing by other people no matter what it's feeling like at that time. Just always kind of rise above anything and yeah, just go for it. I just feel like you've got one life you know. If you never give it a try, you'll never know. That's the thing. Just always give it a go. If it doesn't work, then it wasn't meant to, and the next thing will. That's what I think.
Chris: That's pretty valuable. What we refer to is, it doesn't always have to be right. It doesn't matter that sometimes you might fail, but it's about failing forward and not being scared to fail. Otherwise, you'll never succeed.
Ashley: Yep. Absolutely.
Chris: This brings us on to our last question, which we probably already summed up in a lot of that, but in terms of grand vision, future, short, long-term for the brand Ashley Freeman or the Spirit Bird Collective, where do you see yourself in a year of two years time?
Ashley: It's so hard. Because sometimes it will be six months later, and I'd look back and think, "Whoa! How did I end up here?" Honestly, just to be doing always what I love and to be doing it to the best of my ability with people around me that I love. I think that's the main thing, but I would love just to be really helping people to get really healthy. I'd love to have a bigger platform to do that, to be able to reach more people and to be able to talk and meet more people and tell them about my story and hear theirs.
Health and fitness is a huge part of my life, and to share it and to be able to share it, I think, is the biggest blessing, and I hope that that will continue in different avenues, in different ways. But yeah, just to continue where I'm going, really.
Chris: It's really, really cool. It makes total sense. Like you said that's what lead you to where you are today and no doubt the path that you'll continue on and something that some of the most successful people... If you're true to yourself. If you're not true to yourself, it's going to be pretty difficult to be the best version of yourself.
Ashley: I think if you're really one-tracked, looking at a certain goal, you can often, perhaps, miss something that was coming along because you're not open to it, that's so… Not to say to be flaky and don't stick to something, but just always be open to anything because you never know what's going to come along or who's going to come along. Wherever I am, I hope that's… I'm pretty sure it's going to be happy and doing something that I love.
Chris: That's awesome. Well, that's probably the last question for the day. Ashley, obviously you have a gone through a fair amount of stuff and a bit of a background of yourself, which was super exciting to learn. I guess the journey of where you've been to get to where you are today, and also a bit of inside into where you see yourself in the future and secrets to you being able to find opportunities, attract opportunities, and choose the right ones to get to where you are today. I appreciate your time, I'm sure everyone out there listening has taken a lot from what you said. I hope you have an awesome day, and I'll speak to you soon.
Ashley: Thanks, Chris!
Chris: See you.
Ashley: Thank you! Bye!