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Ashley McLeod

Introducing Ashley McLeod, Director of In Our Words Apparel, a division of Gwen, Inc.

Judi: Please tell me about your business.

Ashley: As the director of In Our Words Apparel, a division of Gwen, Inc., my goal is to inspire women of all races, ages, and backgrounds to bring out their inner beast. In Our Words started out as an idea my mom had to create apparel that would inspire women. However, it was not her goal to run the business. That led her to ask me and two other incredibly talented women to come together and create this business.

Judi: How has the journey been so far with creating this business with two other women?

Ashley: We were able to create and make products together which gave us all confidence. The business did well for awhile then went stagnant for quite some time as all three of us were trying to figure out our own paths. As we began to discuss a relaunch late last year, my lovely business partners both decided to take paths that were best for them, and I could not be prouder as both are pursing higher education and one is also starting her own business.

Judi: What are you learning as you transition to becoming the Director on your own?

Ashley: I chose to stay and continue to be the director of the business. I learned a lot from both women
and have also learned a lot about myself. I was not always this confident. I was always in survival mode.
Like my business partners, I had been figuring out my own path as a single mom and how I envisioned
my life. As I grew more of an understanding of who I was, the more I began to step into my power and
became more confident. I too returned to school to receive my bachelor’s degree in social work. So,
when asked to become the director of this business, I did not hesitate. I will say that I am very proud of myself for stepping into this position and doing it afraid. I used to stop myself from doing things because I did not think I had what it takes or that I was not good enough. I used to shy away from things instead of taking on things I now know I could do. I believe in divine timing and the things I missed truly were not for me.

Judi: What statements do you want to make with the business’ mission?

Ashley: In Our Words and Ashley McLeod go hand in hand now that I know who I am and can define that
in my own words. I am resilient, smart, creative, innovative, a boss, a mom, a student, a teacher, caring,
self-aware, and a huge advocate of having unconditional love, understanding. Most importantly, I am
someone who wants every woman to know they are enough. I want all women to know that there will
be tough moments; however, the things they are going through will not last a lifetime but will help them
discover their inner beast and define what kind of woman they will choose to become.

Judi: Can you give me an update on what In Our Words is working on now and how you are feeling about
the business currently?

Ashley: In Our Words relaunched on Black Friday and I am proud of the products we created. I would like to offer major gratitude to my team; my business manager Judi Dixon and our partnership with GL
Imprinting graphic designer Shaun McCarthy. Together we had a fabulous launch and we sold out of product! I was courageous and live by the belief that when you put things out in the universe with intention, the universe will respond and that is exactly what I did with our relaunch. I envisioned it, set
the intention that we were going to sell out and the universe responded. Honestly, I truly would have been happy if I had sold two shirts during a pandemic given the state of our economy. Therefore, selling out was awesome and I am truly grateful to everyone who bought a shirt, shared a post, and told a friend. We know that all the feedback will help In Our Words grow!

Judi: What does the future look like for In Our Words Apparel?

Ashley: My vision for In Our Words is to be a household name internationally. I want In Our Words to be a lifestyle for women. I want my products to give women the confidence to speak their truth and stand on it even if it is an unpopular opinion. I want young women to feel like they are making a statement that they may not feel comfortable saying out loud. I want older women to wear these products and be able to share their knowledge to future generations about the importance of speaking their truth and standing on it. In Our Words is here to be the voice for women who are still learning to find their voice, for the women who has found it but needs to elaborate, and for older women to drop knowledge and uplift women getting ready to embark on their journey, even though it may not be the same journey.

Judi: Tell me what it is like for you to manage a division of your mother’s company.

Ashley: I am so honored to carry on the tradition of entrepreneurship in my family as I had a fantastic role model growing up. My mother, Gwen Webber-McLeod, CEO of Gwen Inc., is an inspiration. Being a part of her company made me realize how much of an impactful and powerful force my mom is as an
executive woman. Like every mother-daughter relationship, we have our disagreements; however,
we are always a team. Now that I am an adult, I have realized my mom was on her own path of self-discovery while she was trying to raise me. As a mom myself, I know that there is no blueprint to being a
parent. Through conversations and getting to really know one another, I have found that we are more alike than we are different. We both are driven, ambitious, engaged in our community, and big thinkers. My mom has been an entrepreneur most of my life. I always admired that about her. She created her own
lane so she could pull up to tables on her own terms. Entrepreneurship runs in my family as her parents
owned and ran a gas station in Black River, New York. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be next in line to do just that. I am forever grateful that my mom created her business to pass down this
legacy to me that will in return be passed down to my son. The one thing I learned from my mom is to do what you are called to do even if people do not get it. I am so proud of my mom and it is a true honor
to be a part of the Gwen, Inc. team.

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