Shine The Mom Spotlight On Ashley Wilson
Ashley Wilson is the creator of The Sharing Exchange, a sharing economy marketplace for children’s goods. She has made it her personal mission to help others, create sustainable sharing communities, reduce consumption and bring families together through sharing toys & gear.
She has two girls, Annabelle (3.5) and Summer (14 months) who look a lot like her mama! Ashley is on the board of Mom Tribe San Diego, a supportive networking group for moms, and actively helps to plan events for this group.
Fun Fact about Ashley: both her girls were born at exactly 36 weeks weighing five pounds or less! She and her family live in San Diego, CA.
Tell us about you, your family, and when you started your business.
Hi, I am Ashley Wilson! I am a mom to two amazing girls, and a 10 year old chihuahua named Alphie. I am super type A and love to get things done. Whereas, my husband balances me out with his “it will all work out” mentality.
In my spare time (which is rare these days) I enjoy maintaining my vegetable garden, cooking, and taking barre classes. I incorporated my business in July of 2016, but didn’t actually officially launch my website until Feb 2017.
Why did you decide to build your own business?
My business is a peer to peer rental marketplace connecting families so they can rent children’s gear from one another. We are the first sharing economy platform for kids goods!
I have always wanted to build my own business so I could have the ‘work from home’ freedom and flexibility to be there for my kids. In 2015 I started a business with a business partner (which didn’t end up working out). However, once I got a taste of the ‘mompreneur’ life, I knew I wanted to start my own company.
When my second daughter was around four months old and I emerged from the sleep deprived ‘newborn fog’, I quickly found myself wanting to be an entrepreneur again.
Whatever business I started had to fall into the following categories:
- Something I could do from home (at least in the beginning)
- No physical products that involved storing inventory and shipping to customers
- Helping others in some way
I contemplated so many different business ideas. But an idea organically came to mind when traveling from the west coast (where we live) back to the east coast to visit family. I found myself lugging all my kids stuff: pack-in-play, scar seats, toys, baby monitor, etc. It was insane to have to bring so much!
With so many families living in the neighborhood we would be visiting, I knew there had to be a way to access kids gear from local families who weren’t using their stuff every day.
This personal need is what lead me to come up with the concept for my business (most businesses seem to get created out of a need, right!?). I began exploring that it would take to create a sharing economy marketplace for children’s goods. After leading some focus groups, around six months later I launched TheSharingExchange.com.
Who do you serve in your business?
Our mission is to bring families together through sharing. I want families to be able to access anything they need for their kids or grand kids, just for the time they need it, without the headache (and cost) that comes along with owning everything!
Our goal is to eventually create sustainable sharing communities all across the United States to make travel easier on all families. Our business model also lends itself to teaching kids about the concept of borrowing and sharing with others, which is an added bonus!
What does your typical daily schedule look like
With two kids under three, we start our day bright and early! By 6:30 am I am cuddling on the couch watching Daniel Tiger with my toddler. Before she wakes, I spend about 30-60 minutes answering emails or reviewing my schedule for the day.
I only have childcare for the baby three days a week, so I pack all my meetings and calls into these three days. On my ‘work’ days, my husband takes my toddler to school around 8:15 am and my nanny arrives at 8 am to care for my 1 year old.
I am still breastfeeding my youngest, so I take two feeding breaks, but otherwise I stay in my office and tackle my to-do-list. At 2 pm my nanny leaves and I quickly put baby to sleep for an afternoon nap, so I can squeeze in another two hours of work before picking up our toddler from school.
It is certainly a constant juggle to get everything done in the short time I have child care. Once the kids are in bed at 7:30 pm, hubby and I hang out for an hour or two, then I get back to work for another 2 hours. If I am in bed before 11:30 pm I consider it a huge win!
If I am in bed before 11:30 pm I consider it a huge win!
What is the biggest obstacle you face when it comes to being a working mom running her own business?
My biggest obstacle is finding enough time to get everything done for my business with only part-time childcare coverage (not to mention laundry, dishes, etc.). I am working full time from home, but without full time childcare, so this can get tricky and stressful.
Being present when I am with my kids and not constantly on my phone is hard work. I want to model for my girls hard work and dedication to my business. But they are growing so fast and I want to be mentally and physically present for their milestones.
I aim to live by the “work hard, play hard” mentality and on Friday’s, when both kids are home with me, we spend the morning adventuring around together (zoo, beach, aquarium, etc.). Most moms struggle with juggling work duties and home duties, but I have personally started to overcome this obstacle and feel less overwhelmed by block scheduling my time.
I find that it is easy to get side tracked if I don’t block off extended periods of time for certain tasks. Some days I feel more productive than others, but I am working really hard at celebrating the small wins and moving my business forward one day at a time. I also block schedule my vacuuming days and laundry days, which helps with home management.
Luckily my husband is usually in charge of loading & unloading the dishwasher, so I don’t have to block schedule that (thanks hun, you’re the best)! I feel incredibly lucky to have a partner who sees marriage as a true partnership. This totally helps the whole work/life balance more manageable.
What is your superpower?
My superpower is my memory! I often don’t forget a face or the details of a conversation or the details of an experience. I am usually awesome at remembering useless facts.
This definitely serves me well making connections and networking. However, I also get major mom brain and some days joke that my brain is mush. Overall my memory has helped me grow as an entrepreneur and truly learn from past experiences.
Give us your best time management tip!
Create lists and specifically schedule a date and time when you are going to complete each task (block scheduling!). I create a master to-do list each week ordering by priority, then assign a date and time to complete it.
I have a detailed notes column so I can jot down where I am in the completion process. I am just starting to use Trello for this, but always fall back on pen & paper (sometimes sticky notes) because I love a good to-do list!
What do you listen/watch/read to get yourself motivated in your business?
The links to the books Ashley recommends are affiliate links. This means I will receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you purchase the books through my link.
I really enjoy watching Ted Talks and listening to podcasts about growing your business. But I especially LOVE the Redefining Mom blog posts.
They have helped me understand and grow my email marketing channels, provided support around work/life balance. They’ve also allowed me to let go of some of the mom guilt.
Additionally, I am always reading articles and guides written by marketplace experts who have built successful marketplaces. In my very little spare time, I have been reading a book by Brene Brown called Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
Overall, I love to learn and grow as a mom and entrepreneur. So I try my best to always be learning.
Tell us where we can find you and support you in your business journey!
You can find us at www.TheSharingExchange.com.
We just launched our blog three weeks ago and have some wonderful content on purposeful living, parenting and community building!
Finally, you can support my business by spreading the word to your friends/family who may be traveling to San Diego! After all sharing is caring!
To connect with Ashley on social media you can find her on Instagram @ashwilson11. She truly believes, “you don’t have to own everything!”