- Ashlee Heiligman – Keep Our Eyes Open for People in Need and Do Something About it! Global Director of Global Child Advocates and Sojourn Studio
When did your passion bloom?
She had an incredible family. Her Dad was a professional golfer, her Mom a powerhouse. They never shielded her. She believed she could solve the problems of the world.
At 9 years old, she saw a expose on orphanages and she wanted to change the world.
Her ability to speak up began after college. She worked as a volunteer in Thailand. She was exposed to all horrible things but her heart came alive. She found where she was supposed to work. It was her life’s purpose.
Myanmar and the refugee and squatter communities. She was running a center for helping kids. She was 25 at the time and she had judgment for her parents.
One day a boy’s Mom wanted to thank us. They went to his house. It was made of scrap metal and a complete shanty. They were so welcoming and gracious. They were so humbled. They had nothing but everything had a place. The love between the Mom and the kids was so impactful. She cried. She was ashamed of her judgment.
It is not that they don’t love their children, it is because they are trying to survive. She shifted to help families to help them stay together. To avoid trafficking. This is how she got to where she got. Help me with my kids so I can keep them.
What programs were developed to lift these families up? She started the drop in center. Thai people were going into the field. These families could care for their kids. There was a need for reunification. And preventing kids for entering care. It can adapt and shift. As they knew better, they could do better. Recruit, train and equip! They help families that are near breakdown. Early childhood education, nutrition support. It changes the trajectory for the kids.
2009 they are doing social enterprise, it connects them to a job and get through the hardest part of their life. And they can own their own story!
They have an apprentice program and the girls come to them and need a life skills program. They develop their own ability to thrive. They make ornaments. They sell their products but they need to get up to the skill. They make ceramic jewelry. For example, painting gold is a high skill level.
What does it take monetarily to run a household? It is $40 per family per month.
She lived in a boarding school and she speaks Burmese or Thia. They like to hire local people. There are 30 people on the border and 5 people in the states.
Where are the roots for the social enterprise? The factory jobs are hard to find good paying jobs that help them support and care for their children.
Quinn Smith helped them help fight human trafficking. She is the inspiration for the design. She gives her money away. Then Noonday helped them get to a place where they were operating as a business.
Their whole purpose was to help Moms thrive in the developing world. Noonday was pivotal. Their first order was $30,000! It was a great partnership!
Trafficking….tell us more about that?They have no news about what is happening. They tell the parents one thing….meals, warm bed… they may relinquish kids for a better life. And it doesn’t happen.
Lines are blurred between what is real and what is a farce.
Parents are trained that they are the best route for their child. Whether they have no money or not.
They teach the kids to learn about trafficking.
How do you find the remote areas are they open to having you there? Trusted relationships are important. Oppressive military is an issue. Thai child protection policy is a big deal. They don’t feel safe going to the police. They are trying to get refugee status. They have become the middleman. She plays games and is building trusted relationships.
How did you build the trust? Her first Burmese team was trained to NOT pull out a clipboard. They don’t want to be seen as money. It is sitting with people and eating with people and hanging out at the local dump and building empathy.
Ashlee came to the states and she started working as the director and let the locals do the work locally. She is helping other organizations adapt to a new model.
She got her masters in social work to understand the process. She is better utilized here in the states.
Policy. How much does her company take on the policy?The world doesn’t need to understand what is happening in Myanmar. The advocacy is helping more than policy. They don’t know what is happening on the ground. They are pro working for the government. Child welfare has more money than the government.
Have the traffickers been threatening? Not as a westerner. It is more about the communities and you just don’t know.
Is the social enterprise tap into the male?Their focus is on women. There are furniture makers and they collaborate with NGOS. There is a need for men and their partners.
Is part of the money they make go back to the family? They have a savings and education fund. The money that is earned pays dignified wages and pays for scholarship and savings programs. Because they are a community culture, if someone brings money home, they share their money. They give fare wages, and profit sharing. They try not to over give in their community.
The biggest challenge is they cannot undo the injustice. There are issues of marginalization. We cannot fix all the kids and it is rewarding to help the people they are helping and it is transforming their lives.
What are your favorite stories? There were two sisters that had been trafficked. Their Mom died. Their Dad abused them. They were passed on and abused again. Ages 4-9 years old. They ended up with Ashlee’s team. Their story unraveled. They began to heal. They came to work in Sojourn studios and then they progressed from broken to thriving! She got to meet them and they are so full of life! They have been placed in a family! The full progression is amazing to see. The program is working!
It is a blessing to be here!
“Instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads, sometimes God wants us to keep our eyes open for people in need, do something about it, and bow our whole lives to Him instead.”– Bob Goff
Struggling in comparing myself to others. My purpose helps my heart come alive. And there is no comparison. It keeps people from living the life that there are here to do.
Monthly Archives: August 2021
Founder of Her Poppy, Day Job Market Researcher, Adventure Seeker and Visionary
Learn to break the cycle of discomfort with essential oils
Where did it begin? Is it one moment in time or a sequence of events?
Her Poppy was birthed from pain and created to provide relief. It started after losing her father from pancreatic cancer. He was super healthy. It never crossed her mind that he would die. He was always on her to be healthy. And watching her step Mom go through breast cancer at the same time. It started her on a path to be more healthy.
She was introduced to the healing powers of essential oils. She is in remission now! She adopted an exercise routine, she went plant based and then it moved to what she put on her body. Her background is market research. She started to pay attention to the ingredients. She knew they were bad. She started paying attention to vaginal health and period health. It is a great indicator of what is going on in your body. If you have painful periods, it is an indicator that something is going on. She didn’t want to have to take medication every month. She started looking at how essential oils can help with menstrual cycles. She did research. She started testing out formulas. It had to smell good! She tested it for two months and she didn’t have to use Ibuprofen anymore. It was shocking!No more debilitating cramps!
She put together a focus group and survey of doctors and peers. She got great feedback. And she knew she had to share this with the world.
Dena is talking about the book Unite. Out of pain, comes gifts. An awakening. We don’t choose that for ourselves when things are good.
Lauren’s pain transformed her into her gifts. She likes to share and it is a way to honor her father.
What is the progression of finding the formula?
It was trial and error. She wanted it to be effective at relieving pain, reducing bloating, shifting our moods and smell good. Clean ingredients are the benchmark for everything. From the medicinal side she knew what needed to go in it. It was hard to get it to smell good. Ginger oil doesn’t smell good. It isn’t sexy. Geranium is in there too. Guidance from God and science made it work!
Do you put it on a certain part of your body? It is topical and should not be ingested. You apply it to your tummy and lower back. Your chest and the back of your ears and the bottoms of your feet are great places.
Does this work for perimenopausal women as well? Yes! It helps with moods!
Do you use it daily? Is it preventative? It is safe to use everyday. She uses it 3 days a week. It helps to balance.
What about Menopausal women? It is great for the calming effects and bloating.
How were you trained? There are white papers on this that you can look up. There is a 9 hour documentary. The truth about cancer. Dr. Axe is a medical doctor that is very into using essential oils for cancer. He was a resource for her.
Do you have a philanthropic leg in the future for those who can’t afford your product. For sure! It is a goal of hers! She is aware of the period equity space. It is a dream of hers!
For people that are going to launch a product, how do they go about doing that? Necessity is the mother of invention.
Pitfalls and things that are working well?
Decide to be fearless and just do it! You will figure it out. Use the network around you! It was a friend that made her great connections. Be smart and use the resources around you. When you are on the right path, the doors will open exactly when they are supposed to. It is divine timing!
If the doors are glued shut that means that is not the door for you! It is possible that the timing isn’t right. You have to trust. You need to take a step back and reassess. It can be easy to get lost. Never lose sight of your initial intention. The lessons will come as you need them. If you align yourself, all the business stuff will come.
Do you delegate work to others? It is about balancing! You have to ask for help. Early on she was doing everything herself. And then she could afford resources. You need to use them properly. You have to drink my Kool Aid if you come on board! Delegating is hard. She has had to learn to let go of knowing everything. Take suggestions!
What about your supply chain and testing with purification and safety?
There are different grades and a requirement to use therapeutic and organic oils. She sources oils globally and they have rigorous standards that ensure that they are the purest quality.
Dena thinks of Shark Tank. She knows about how much goes into a business. Production and cash flow are essential for growth. How have you managed this? She hasn’t hit this point yet where the supply can’t keep up with the demand. Balancing cost with quality is her biggest challenge. Her Poppy is boot strapped. Every sale goes right back into the business. She is exploring ways to grow the business.
Parting words? For women who are thinking about starting a business, go back inside and your business is an extension of you. It is a branch. Be in a constant state of alignment to get into the flow.
S2/Ep28: Emmy Hancock and Ali Aston, Learn About “Period Poverty” and How You Can Impact Your Community
Social Impact Fashion Start up
Emmy Hancock and Ali Aston
Where did it all begin?
She was a model in high school. She was behind the scenes of the fashion world. She wanted to pursue modeling. She got into the University of Pennsylvania and studied criminology. She graduated in 2018.
But then 2015 was the year of the period. And this is where she learned of “period poverty”. It launched to the national stage. It was a public health issue. She realized one person could make a difference. She began to reach out to non-profits. She wanted to create impact if she could have a brand that could fund it.
She moved to NYC and took a job and then she had to move back with her parents because of the pandemic. She then launched the brand herself. She did it all herself. She launched in October during the pandemic. She reached out and needed a co-founder on Instagram. A friend from high school reached out. They have been building the company ever since. We think of Shark Tank!
It is difficult to do it all yourself.
What is Oluna?
There are 3 parts.
For every pair of pants sold they are donating a year of period products to one woman in need.
Shining a light on Period poverty is an issue that is happening here domestically. Right here in our backyard.
They partner with Days for Girls globaly. They purchase and distribute and educate. They buy their product and distribute.
The Days for Girls (DfG) Pad is a washable, reusable, beautiful menstrual health product that’s built to last. Our patented design, which includes a protective shield and absorbent liner, is backed by the latest menstrual health research and a decade of feedback from women around the world. It is a truly sustainable solution that menstruators can count on month after month, for up to three years.
Oluna donates 1% to educate menstrual research and partners with https://period.org/
Oluna s empowers women by establishing an all female owned supply chain.
Period poverty effects the homeless and they don’t have dignity. You never see period drives!
It effects prison inmates.
It effects the poor. They are not covered by food stamps.
Toxic shock research asked for some changes and changes were struck down. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, has been trying to find that out for almost 20 years. In April, she reintroduced legislation — for the ninth time since 1997 — that would require manufacturers to label the fabrics, colorants, dyes and preservatives used in pads and tampons. Some women have expressed concern that trace amounts of the toxic chemical dioxin could be in tampons as a byproduct of rayon processing.
There is also a luxury tax on tampons. Obama said the laws were made by men. Back in the 20’s tampons were classified as cosmetics. 30 states have appealed but leaves 20 states left to the tax. Here is a link to join the fight in your state:
What triggered this in 2015? One big moment came in April, when Kiran Gandhi, a Los Angeles-based musician and feminist, ran the London Marathon while on her period, without using any hygiene products. She wanted to let her blood flow freely to encourage women not to feel embarrassed about their periods. It was the first time that people started talking about it. It is taboo.
“In America we have a new iPhone every year, but in the past two centuries there have only been three innovations in menstrual care. It’s baffling,” says Gandhi.
You have clothes! The pants are not related to periods. They are a lifestyle brand. They are elevating the lounge category. Wearing sweatpants was getting depressing. They are so cute they can be seen in public. They have slits along the legs so they are sexy. They are launching three new colors and are working on a dress. Comfort with style! The true day to night clothing!
How did this happen?
While in Cambodia she had to buy pants to go into a temple. She loved them. Her Aunt is a seamstress and made her a few pairs. After a couple iterations they came up with a new pant and Oluna was born!
Her Aunt kept at the project and found a pattern maker. Then they called manufacturers around the world and they found a female one right in Dallas! A lot of luck and a lot of hustle! She is learning as she goes! She loves to learn. She learns a new skill each month.
When you dream, what do you dream? She wants to pull in a community to help impact this problem. She wants her brand to help. She wants to employ homeless women to help pack and ship the brand. She wants a comfortable space.
Her challenge is brand awareness. COVID times are hard because people are not going to stores. She cannot speak to the people that they are helping as well.
There are so many opportunities for partnerships!
Everyone can make an impact. Reach out to her through her website and she has so many ideas on how you can help! You just need to believe.
How were you educated on period poverty? This Book: Periods Gone Public: Taking a Stand For Menstrual Equity by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf. https://www.periodequity.org/book-1
Nadya Okamoto is a another great resource for information.
Her main source of influence on discovering period poverty was through watching a film at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, I, Daniel Blake was about poverty and there was a scene in the movie that changed the way she though about menstrual products. It struck a nerve.
Read about the movie here:
This is fascinating how we find our passions and purpose! All the grains of sand make up a beautiful beach.
Adventure Photographer, Photo Anthropologist, Travel Writer , and Global Artisan Entrepreneur
Learn How Important it is to Share Your Gifts and Knowledge to Impact Lives.
Wanderlust Travel, Andeana Hats
Where was this passion inside you was born?
Can you take us back?
She attributes it to her parents. They were both CIA and stationed overseas. Indonesia was one of the cultures she was exposed to. She has a wanderlust because of it.
It started with a conversation with her Mom when she was 13. She wanted to be a Zoologist. She was never paying attention in school. She wrote reasons why she wanted to be a Zoologist and then her Mom deduced that she should do photography and not be in a lab and studying science! She wanted adventure. It was a tool for adventure!
She went to Syracuse for photo journalism. She had a dream for shooting for National Geographic. You take on what you photograph. She was drawn to weddings due to it being happy. That led her back to travel. This was destination wedding photography. It led her on a path.
What sets Laura apart from the other photographers out there? Visually she loves punchy color and a style that is adventurous. She does whatever she has to do to get a shot. She is the Indiana Jones of wedding photography. She brings fun and adventure. And having a consistent style is important. She never deviated from that. They knew what they were going to get. You mirror energy! She learned skill sets from weddings. It helped her with her travel photography. The camera is a passport so she can be there.
She drew up in Virginia. She lived near Langley because they had to be close to the CIA headquarters.
What were some of her favorite stories and destinations? She was shooting for the Silver Sea Cruises to Antarctica and it was the most remote place she has ever been. They traveled through Drakes passage with 20 feet swells and it made her feel like an explorer and it was a highlight.
The Republic of Georgia was so amazing. While traveling to a shoot, an Avalanche took the road out, and they had to climb back up and they went to a monastery where no women were not allowed. Laura was NOT having it. She disquised in a Black monks cloak and she snuck pictures of the bride and groom and got amazing pictures and this is really rare.
Shooting in the Amazon River while being in a tree house hotel with crazy spiders brought out the Indiana Jones in her and she was fascinated.
She had to do a shoot on a floating grass island at Lake Titicaca while photographing the Chinkana Indians. A really amazing experience.
What was the hairiest moment?
She was shooting a Holi festival in Vrindavan India where women don’t partake in public but in the privacy of their homes. Laura showed up shooting the festival with her female assistant. They were white women in the middle of a male dominated festival and men began grabbing at them and they were getting crushed and it was getting physical and they had to evacuate down on the ground and go up high where no one could see them to photograph the festival. She can see how people get crushed! It was scary!
She teaches photography in an adventure workshop with a philanthropic edge.
Her new entrepreneurial edge came to fruition while she was shooting for the Artisan catalog for National Geographic. Peru is a region and she was seeing incredible hats. Her hat says a lot about a person. Every village has a different hat and tells a different story. Why not sell the hats in the magazine? Too many obstacles? Her and her girlfriend started the business.
The concept for “Andeana Hats” was born because of the shared affinity for the Sacred Valley, Peru, its culture, energy and people by Laura and her partner, Pats Krysiak. While trekking together on the infamous Ausangate trek across the Rainbow Mountains, Pats and Laura came across many amazing Andean women and were captivated with their unique hats and weavings. Determined to share the energy of the Sacred Valley with the world and to help bring awareness to these female artisans and their cultural practices, Laura and Pats came up with the concept of a hat company that combines their traditional hat styles and weavings.
Every Andeana Hat and Intention Band is hand shaped or woven out of alpaca wool by Quechua artisans living in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The Quechua language is an oral or woven language; not written, so by keeping these weaving designs alive we are essentially keeping their language and history alive. These descendants of the Inca people are practicing what National Geographic refers to a “vanishing art”; an ancient weaving or embroidering tradition that has been passed down through the centuries by the women in their culture. Without a global marketplace to share and sell these goods, these traditions will die out.
It was a logistical nightmare. When it rains, it effects the hats. Their business had to be built around the weather and the harvest.
Andeana Hats has partnered with Awamaki, a non-profit organization based in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, who work closely together with multiple indigenous communities in the remote mountains of Peru to empower women and connect them to global market places like Novica in Association with National Geographic. Awamaki invests in women’s skills, connects them to market access and supports their leadership so they can increase their income and transform their communities. Novica’s mantra is to empower artisans, connect and mentor, and preserve endangered traditions. Additionally, Andeana recently partnered with Artesanías Aylluyki, a multi-generational family run embroidery artisan group based in Ayacucho, Peru. These are all powerful, fundamentally important mantras that drive us all to work together in this shared goal of spreading global happiness through traditional crafts.
Awamaki does all the ordering and hikes to the villages, they ship the product and do translation.
Her business partner is the behind the scenes and person and she is the in front person and is really exciting. It is a for profit business that gives back.
What does the money go to in the end game? The women get paid first, then the hats get shipped. 160 women and in 15 communities. Men do knitting and embroidery. Women are the main bread winners.
The mission behind the creation of Andeana Hats is to empower women, help support global artisans to continue their vanishing crafts, and enable them to support themselves and lead their communities out of poverty.
Purchase a hat through Online or a pop-up show. They can do hat parties!
She has an impact collection while partnering with a sustainable brand and help other artisans. Bathing suits, knitted gloves, coconut shell bowls etc. They want to help artisans.
How does it change the dynamics in the family if the women are becoming the bread winners? The men have been excited. They quit their jobs and they can be at home more! This alleviates them having to hike 8 hours to go and sell their goods. Educating women only helps every problem that is happening on the planet is so crucial! It is important to give girls hope and make them less able to get involved in horrible things. It is confidence building. You can help a whole community rising out of poverty.
Laura has always mentored young girls and it was her way of giving back and helping women. It all came together.
Laura is changing lives! It starts with a ripple! She is one of four girls and does not have kids. She used to feel like she was going to miss out. But she now knows she was supposed to help these women and children. If you love one child, you love all children.
We all have skill sets and can teach something and it is important to share your gifts and knowledge. You get more when you give more. It takes time! Giving feels good!
Any parting words? Any advice?
Don’t wait until you have more time or money, have fun and give back and find a way to do more with what you are already doing. There is always a way to do more! You can incorporate it and have fun! Find a way to level it up! Now is the time! Don’t wait for permission! Laura is fearless! Get over the “I am not good enough” mentality.
Since the inception of Andeana Hats, Laura and Pats have been honored by the Embassy of Peru in Washington D.C. for their dedication to helping the Quechua people in Peru and Laura’s photography work is on permanent display there. Andeana Hats has also participated in numerous pop-ups and storytelling events including Billy Reid Georgetown, ROWDTLA in Los Angeles, and La Cosecha Market in Washington D.C. celebrating Latin American Culture. As members of the Female Founder Collective, National Geographic’s Women of Impact, and the Good Market, Laura and Pats continue to find innovative ways to create sustainable income opportunities for the artisans by launching “Andeana Travel” philanthropic trips to Peru. Their first trip launched in 2020 and was featured by Forbes as an origin trip lead by successful Women Founders and also by Matador Network as a company that actually gives back.