by Karl Nelson II, Intern Media
It’s astonishing when I see today’s youth build into one another, using their passions and talents to enrich young lives.
That’s exactly what Ashly Rodriguez is doing today as a Natural Hair and Beauty Vlogger. To some, natural hair might seem like a trivial or trendy concept in today’s society, but Ashly is reminding us all of just how impactful the natural hair movement can be for many women and teenagers out there today.
Among Ashly’s early success, I find myself most impressed with her desire to provide resources to teenage girls — resources centered around the natural hair movement.
Ashly plans to start a girls group at local after school programs in Boston, where she currently resides. The girls group will cater to teenage girls who might be lacking the right resources.
Ashly is prepared to be a bridge builder for young ladies out there by informing them about current issues that teen girls deal with on a daily basis. She wants to encourage these teens to embrace who they are and to love themselves first.
That’s a concept Ashly wishes she had grasped throughout her adolescence.
Ashly will be the first to tell you that she was shy growing up, not always tapping into her full potential, as she’s clearly doing now as a young adult. As Ashly puts it, growing up, she rarely did things she wanted to do because she was “in fear of what others would think.”
In fact, it wasn’t until after high school that she realized the importance of stepping outside of her comfort zone and choosing to love herself, refusing to allow the thoughts of others have a handle on her life.
Ashly’s bashful days are long gone. She’s become an example of confidence and assurance, and she hopes to one day see everyone take on that approach. That’s a mentality she believes will bring everybody closer together, and she’s determined to play her part in seeing that vision come to fruition.
Ashly’s immense audience is a great start to her making a huge difference in not only the world of beauty and natural hair, but also as a young positive voice for women and young people all over.
She might have started this journey with a few thousand followers, but after a year of consistency and strenuous work as a Vlogger and natural hair endorser, Ashly’s following is now at a number that you almost won’t believe; 83.1 thousand. And that number is growing by the day.
Checkout my exclusive interview with the 24-year-old naturalista, as we discussed how her journey with natural hair began, how she was able to develop such a large following so quickly, why Intern Media inspires her, and much more.
Q. What were you doing career wise before you decided to start your own YouTube channel and Vlog surrounding the topic of natural hair?
A. Before I started getting into vlogging and Youtube, I was working with teens in the Human Services field. I still work in that field, but as a Behavior Therapist. It’s a good balance, as I get to do two things I love.
Q. What would you describe as the major turn off for you when it came to using relaxers and flat irons in the past?
A. The major turn off when I used relaxers and flat irons was how much time it would take. I used to clear an entire day to be in the salon to get my relaxer done and my hair blown out. Hanging in a salon for hours was the norm, but looking back on it now, that was crazy.
The second turn off was the burns. I do NOT miss that one bit. If the relaxer was left on too long, you’d start feeling your scalp start to burn or while using my flat iron, I’d get too close to my ear or forehead and burn myself.
Q. When you began your natural hair journey, was there anyone in particular who inspired you to make that decision? Maybe another “naturalista” at the time?
A. The beginning of my journey was interesting because I had no idea what I was doing. I transitioned on accident because I moved and my salon was so far that I wasn’t able to get a relaxer.
A year went by and my hair was half natural.. half relaxed and I was left with two decisions; cut it off or get another relaxer. So, I cut it. After that, I continued to straighten my hair because that’s all I knew.
One day, I came across Kinky Curly Coily Me’s Facebook page, and I was amazed by all the beautiful styles and hair. Then, I thought to myself, “I can do this.” So, after I stumbled across her page, I always looked at it for advice or for new styles to try. That definitely made the beginning of my natural hair journey a lot easier.
Q. How would you describe the natural hair movement back in 2014 compared to where it is today?
A. It has definitely grown! And there are many more people embracing their hair, which is beautiful! I love receiving messages from women who are starting their natural hair journeys. A lot of them say they feel very happy that they can embrace their natural hair. There is so much more support!
Q. For those out there that might not know, explain why the natural hair way is the healthiest way?
A. I don’t knock anyone’s style. You can rock your crown whatever way you’d like. However, if you’re looking to go natural or if you have been scared because of what others think, try it!
It’s great to be able to embrace and nourish your natural texture and play around with fun styles! Natural hair is so versatile. One day you can have braids and the next a bomb twist out. It’s fun!
Also, by being natural and using more natural products, you don’t have to deal with harming chemicals that are found in relaxers or other products. Don’t care what others think. It’s YOUR hair and it grows out of YOUR head. So, embrace it.. LOVE IT!
Q. You mentioned your hobbies outside of what you do as a voice for natural hair lovers. Talk about the importance of having a life outside of your career and passions?
A. It’s always great to be able to take time outside of your daily schedule to do something you enjoy doing. To me, it’s really important to take time to yourself.
My months get really jammed packed sometimes between both my job and vlogging, but I make sure I set some time aside. I hike, camp, catch basketball games, and sometimes I go kick some butt in bowling.
Q. When we spoke off the record, you told me about where your social media and YouTube following was just a year ago compared to where it is now. Talk about how you were able to grow such a large following at such a rapid pace.
A. It’s crazy to think that just a year ago I didn’t have a Youtube channel at all and had just about 4,000 followers on Instagram. When I decided to really take off with sharing my experiences with my hair to others, I just planned things out and made sure I was consistent.
I know when I’m on social media, I like seeing things on my timeline. So, I made sure I was trying out new styles once a week and was interacting with my awesome followers, which I still enjoy doing to this day.
Q. I love the fact that you want to touch the lives of women in a positive way through your passion for natural hair. What kind of impact do you hope to have, big picture wise?
A. I hope to be able to inspire teen girls and women, not only to embrace their natural hair, but to also embrace and love themselves! Growing up, I was really shy and never did anything I wanted to do in fear of what others would think.
After high school, I realized that I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and had more confidence to love myself and do things for me. So, when I realized that, I changed my mindset and that changed my life. I hope one day to have somewhere or something for all of us to get together and celebrate how amazing we are for being ourselves!
Q. Are teen girls your target audience?
A. Teen girls and women are my target, but the main reason teen girls are really important is because I feel as though when you’re a teen, you’re kind of put off to the side. While working in a teen center last year, I was able to chat and connect with the teen girls and hear what they’re going through.
The big topic other than them embracing their hair was self confidence. I want to be able to inspire them to love themselves the same way I try to inspire women to do the same.
Q. You’re currently working on starting a girls group at local schools in Boston. What are your plans for this group and what’s the inspiration behind this new endeavor?
A. Yes, I’m planning to start a girls group where teen girls are able to come hang out, chat and ask questions about topics from their natural hair to self respect and self confidence.
I want them to have somewhere they can feel comfortable and when they leave feel even better than they did walking in. My inspiration to start this group comes from my time working with the teen girls at the teen center I mentioned earlier. Daily conversations I had with them made me realize that there are other girls out there with the same issues and questions. I want to be able to help, inspire and uplift others!
Bonus Q. What about what I’m doing with Intern Media inspired you to take this interview?
A. I think it’s incredible how far you have come with Intern Media! It’s definitely grown and it’s great to see where it is now. The people and stories you have touched on are always interesting and different. | ΚΜΝ
Words can barely explain how much you’ve inspired me with your work, your positive approach to life and with the impact you’re having on women, teenage girls and others today. I’m so proud of the tremendous growth that you and your platform have experienced in just a year and I’m excited to see what’s next for you. Welcome to the Intern Media family and I’m glad that we’ve become friends this year. As the homie Drew would say, bless up! Lol.