Inspiring Women: Ashley Stone

Hair extraordinaire, businesswoman entrepreneur, and television personality, Ashley Stone, may be best known as ‘Blondie’ on the small screen, but she has been making a name for herself in the beauty world for the past decade. This Connecticut native is not only a talented and successful businesswoman, but thanks to her efforts in avant-garde hairstyling, she is now burning up the airwaves on Oxygen’s second season of Hair Battle Spectacular.

We were fortunate to speak with the amazing, inspirational  and sometimes avant-garde Ashley.

Our readers may recognize your name or your face from their television set – but tell us a bit about life before the Oxygen Network, who you are, and how did you get to where you are today?

I don’t think being on a T.V Show hasn’t changed me one bit. I’ve always been a very independent woman that wasn’t afraid to question people’s actions or go against the grain.  I struggled with people taking me seriously or initially judging me based on first appearance. I learned very early on that letting people walk all over you just results in a negative spiral that can potentially get out of control.

Everyone deserves happiness and that can never be attained unless you achieve it for yourself.  I was pregnant at 20 years old and after having my son I realized the true feelings of happiness. Everything I strived for after that was for the happiness and future of me and my son.   As I made goals for myself and was able to achieve them, I then discovered passion. I am an independent woman in charge of my own happiness and extremely passionate about every decision I make and the people around me.

Was a career in hair always part of your plan, or did you dabble in other fields, first?

When I was a kid I was obsessed with Fashion. I wanted to be a fashion designer when I grew up. One of the decisions towards that path was going to a technical high school for hairdressing. Hairdressing to me was a step closer to the fashion world. My plan consisted of being a hair stylist in New York, while attending school for Fashion design and hopefully getting backstage doing runway hair. That, of course, would put me in the perfect environment to network and meet the fashion designer around me.  I always had elaborate detailed plans like this. I was 13 when I came up with that idea!

It turned out, however, that (while attending Fashion Design School in NYC,) I discovered I hated sewing. It wasn’t what I expected it to be, and I happened to really love hair. I decided to pursue a career in the hair industry instead. I was 18 when I made that decision. I never looked back!

Is there a role model, mentor or other guiding force who helped you along the road to success?

 My mom was always a huge role model for me and still is. She always encouraged the strength a woman can have and that anything we put our mind to we could do. She was also a young mom and struggled with us growing up, but she came out on top. She has an amazing business mind and an incredible outlook on life.

As a new television personality, you spent a lot of recent time in the public eye. How do you balance your public and private personas? Is there a difference, or are you pretty much the same in and out of the spotlight? As ‘Blondie’ and as Ashley?

I am pretty much the same person. I definitely have to juggle hats though depending on my setting. When I’m negotiating something or dealing with sales people with my businesses, I have to be more aggressive and witty. Again, upon appearance I have had people really try to take advantage of me. When I’m around friends or people I can let my guard down, then I definitely have a more fun and silly side. When my guard is up I tend to just be quiet and observing.  Blondie or Ashley…We’re one in the same ;)

Hair Battle Spectacular challenges the contestants each week.  Which challenge did you find the most rewarding and why?

This is tough. There are two moments that meant a lot to me. One, was the first Glam Slam when I made my Nicki Minaj-inspired hair piece, and won.  I had just came out of a check up challenge right before that I opted not to put out anything because I struggled. So, upon, first impression the judges had no faith in my abilities. It was gratifying to then put out a hair piece that blew everyone away.

The second moment was when I did my last finale hair pieces. I decided to tell a story of my journey on the show and in many ways it reflected my own life story. I was very passionate about sharing that story and hopefully inspiring other people and I really felt like I accomplished that with those pieces. People might not think or realize you can touch peoples lives with hair but, I’ve learned through what I do, I can. The judges understood me so much it brought a few of them to tears. That made me feel like no matter what happened, I accomplished what I did the show for- To inspire people. I could feel I inspired the whole audience that night.

You won the first challenge, the Nicki Minaj Harajuku Barbie look.  This must have given you an extra boost of confidence.  Were you nervous at all throughout the competition?

 It gave me confidence that I could do anything if I just stayed focused. I was never truly nervous because the stakes were never that high to me. I missed my son while I was away filming so much and I always felt at any moment, if I got sent home, my baby was there waiting for me.

You were the last girl standing! Congrats!  Do you feel you had an advantage as a female often working on female models?

 Last woman standing!!! I was so proud of that. I never felt at any moment I had an advantage. I had no background in fantasy hair and I was basically figuring things out as I went. I just knew my time management and multitasking was a huge asset. I always kept in mind my strengths, but also the strengths of my competitors.

Even in the arts, the job isn’t everything; other than the work we know you for, what are you passionate about?

Honestly I am ridiculously passionate about hair. It ranks right up there with my family. I also love writing and I am very passionate about paying it forward and giving back. I love doing volunteer work, especially for charities that encourage women and help build a woman’s confidence. I have seen firsthand how important this is. I hope to instill in some people the same strength I have had to find in myself to get through my own struggles in life.

What advice would you give to other women who want to do what you do?

 Only you can determine your own happiness. Confidence and strength to endure anything is what makes a woman beautiful and able to conquer anything in her way.

Now is YOUR opportunity to tell us what we missed! What question should we have asked, that we didn’t (and what’s the answer to it)?

Outside of Hair, what would I like to conquer next?  A Poetry Slam. I love to write and I grew up writing poetry to help me get through tough times. I discovered slam poetry, but never had the guts to get on stage and read anything I’ve ever written. After doing the show and performing each week in front of an audience, it helped me get over my fear of public speaking. I hope to be on stage again, but this time, at one of the open mics and finally participating in a poetry slam!

What is next for Ashley?

 I typically have a 5 year plan at any given point. I never included a reality show, however, in the plan, nor all the amazing things that followed this year! I have always had dreams of that runway in NYC. Wherever my path takes me…I know it will eventually lead me there. I know there is a lot more hair in my future and working on the continued success of my businesses. The rest, I plan to figure out as I go!

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