Voss Babes Female Entrepreneur Series – Ashley Perona, Owner of Unicorn Unplugged

For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, social media can be an absolute game-changer! All it takes is one viral post and businesses can suddenly take off.

At Like A Voss Social Media, we’re highlighting female entrepreneurs who are killing the online game. This week’s spotlight is on Ashley Perona, Owner of Unicorn Unplugged!

Have you ever been so lost in a moment that time stood still, everything started moving in slow motion, the surrounding noise dissipated into a light hum, and euphoria washed over your entire body? Hopefully, you’ve experienced this or something similar multiple times throughout your life. It’s in these moments, you are free, vulnerable, and your authentic self. Almost childlike. Uninhibited by daily stresses, anxieties, or fears. These tend to be the moments we cherish when we grow older. Not the early mornings, late-night meetings, last-minute deck preps, meeting cancellations, tight deadlines, office politics, and the looming feeling of complete burnout.

Enter …Unicorn Unplugged, spreading the Power of Play so we can break away from the stress and have more moments of childlike happiness.

Our CEO Mandi Relyea-Voss interviewed Ashley about her secret to going for it, and creating something new and unique. Mandi also got some awesome insights into what Ashley thinks about social media as a business tool.

A Little Bit About Being a Female Entrepreneur

How long have you been in business for? 

Inception for Unicorn was back in October 2018. The LLC was officially formed in February 2019.

What made you decide to break away from the 9-5 and start Unicorn Unplugged?

Where to start? The back-to-back calls, starting action items after traditional working hours, having meetings about the meeting, needing consensus from 30 people to make a single decision, non-stop office politics, constant gossip, bosses you don’t respect, bullshit metrics and MBOs, crazy deadlines, a lack of sincere appreciation, and the list goes on and on.

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but I let perfectionism and feeling like I needed the best idea in the world inhibit me from just starting. I was successful in corporate America, but never truly felt fulfilled. I gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to companies and it was received by lackluster appreciation at best. I was a glorified workaholic, stressed out, and “too busy” to plan a vacation or personal time off. As the years went by, I started asking myself, “what does all this mean and what is it for?” and “Does it matter in the grand scheme of things?”. I came to the realization that my job nor my company in corporate America was going to hug me when and if I got sick. This prompted me to sit back, reassess my priorities, and make some big changes in my life. I wasn’t satisfied working for someone, making these big companies more money, and unimpressed with almost every leader I had worked with.

Ultimately, I decided to break out of the metaphoric hamster wheel! I want to make my own rules. I want to manage my own schedule. I want to do something more. I want to be something more. I want to help promote the power of play in adults. I want to remind people to stop taking life so seriously. I want to remind adults to tap into their inner child. Unicorn Unplugged’s sole mission is to create visceral experiences that remind people they are alive.

What do you love most about being a female entrepreneur?

I love knowing wholeheartedly that women have just begun to scratch the surface at reaching their full potential in a professional and transformational capacity. Women are finally coming into their own, being outwardly confident, and being recognized for sharing their brilliance in the world. Women are unbelievably strong, intuitive, intelligent, empathetic, passionate, and hard-working.

What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome as a female entrepreneur? Something you did not foresee when you decided to start Unicorn Unplugged?

In entrepreneurship, there are infinite hurdles and problems to overcome – for me, this is in the apparel manufacturing space. Couple that with wearing all the hats, constantly learning new skills and applying them immediately with zero guarantees it will work, and bootstrapping it all on a shoestring budget. I personally struggle with producing economical, eye-catching sales and marketing content, because I don’t possess those skills and finding those people, in the beginning, is difficult.

What is one thing about working in the retail clothing industry that people would be surprised to learn? I know we had a conversation about this at one of the COO Alliance events – but I think our readers would be interested to know.

Like most industries, the apparel industry is crazy complex and there are a lot of moving pieces to manage. I came from the tech world so this is a completely different ball game. It’s extremely difficult to find suppliers and manufacturers that deliver on time and at the highest quality, especially when you’re first starting out and considered a tiny fish in a big pond. Both on-shore and off-shore strategies have their pros and cons. Not to mention, I find it difficult to pick the one fabric that the most amount of people are going to love since I can’t produce a small number of 20 different fabric selections economically. I’ve made expensive mistakes and am still learning new things every single day. You have to be adaptable and ready to pivot at any time.

And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!

Do you have a favorite social media platform? Why is it your favorite?

I do have a favorite platform. I love me some Instagram. I find it aesthetically appealing and very easy to use. I love all the new features they’re coming out with as well. I’ve linked my Instagram to my Facebook Page, so all of my content posts to both platforms simultaneously. I’m also very interested in TikTok and am actively working to launch a YouTube channel.

What made you decide to start using social media as a way to promote your company, and sell your hoodwinks? 

Social is a way of life these days, regardless of the platform. Prior to Unicorn Unplugged, I was a very private person. But, in preparation for its launch, I started posting consistently on Instagram and Facebook about a year ago. It’s the best way to reach a broad audience in the most cost-effective way. Social media has definitely leveled the playing ground when it comes to competing with larger, well-established brands. It enables you to be creative without having to invest in big, fancy equipment and an entire team of designers and marketers. I still have a ton to learn, but it has been fun to apply all my learnings to Unicorn Unplugged as well as my personal brand.

How has social media impacted your business? Would you say that it’s an effective marketing tool?

Social media is great for gathering feedback on new product ideas and launches. My network and followers have been invaluable. In all honesty and transparency, I have yet to crack the code of social media marketing. I feel like it’s very saturated and it’s hard to truly stand-out these days. Building an organic following is hard and takes longer, but it’s worthwhile and more effective when it comes to building a long-term, trusting relationship and rapport with customers.

What advice would you give to other businesses and female entrepreneurs who want to use social media as a way to connect with customers?

My number one recommendation would be — spend a ton of time really thinking about and crafting your why, vision, brand, values, social media themes, and content strategy. Especially on social media, you need an arsenal of content so you can post consistently every day or every other day. The algorithms are constantly changing and the more you learn and leverage all the available features the more platforms, like Instagram, will reward you. It’s also about telling a story and treating your feed like a magazine/lifestyle vs. constant inundation of products and services. You want to truly connect with your followers/customers in the most meaningful way by delivering as much value as you can. Don’t give the customer what you think they want, actually ask and deliver that to them. Then, later down the road, you can really start giving them what they need.

It takes time, patience, hard work, and determination to do this right. There are tips, tricks, and hacks for sure, but that doesn’t work for the majority of folks. There is an element of luck in it too. Don’t underestimate the power of who you know too. Bots, automation, and buying followers might seem like a great short term strategy but trust me, it isn’t going to pay dividends in the long run. Plus, having those fake followers ends up messing up your pixel and future targeting for ads.

A Little More About Ashley

Yay! Professional and personal bios. The place where we get to toot our own horns and awkwardly explain our amazingness in the third person in the hopes that people will believe we’re smart and listen to what we have to say. I’m going to keep it casual.

I was born and raised in Arizona, tricked Arizona State University into giving me a full ride (not really, but it sounded fun), graduated with degrees in Finance and Marketing that I hardly use, followed this hunch that tech is the way of the future and fell into this crazy thing called Salesforce, dominated and then got stuck in that for 10+ years because the demand far exceeded the supply (which equaled more money in my bank account), convinced myself I needed to climb the corporate ladder, became a self-proclaimed workaholic, didn’t find fulfillment or appreciation from the companies I worked so hard for, built and led a badass team of wicked-smart females at Ticketmaster (career highlight), and blah, blah, blah. Snoozefest.

Fast forward to today. I’m venturing down this path of entrepreneurship. And, holy shit! What a scary, fun, and nerve-racking ride. In this transition, I’m determined to focus on things that truly matter. Not working day in and day out to make large corporations more money that won’t hug or support me when I get sick. Instead, I want to talk about these ideas’ worth spreading. What if we tapped into our inner children and played as much as we stress today? Do you think the world would be a more loving, connected, and happier place? And, how about this one? If people were able to unlock and share their deepest and darkest vulnerabilities without shame or judgment, do you think they could grow and be inspired to step into their own unique ability?

These are things I want to talk about moving forward — human connection and sense of self that has a real impact. I’m a firm believer that my career doesn’t define who I am. My passions, aspirations, topics that light me up, and what I do in my spare time is the real me. I want to share this version of myself with the world. I love helping people reach their full potential and empowering them to be their best selves.

I’ll leave you with this, I’m ridiculously passionate about traveling. I’m about to embark on a trip around the world for 3+ years to 50+ countries to do deep work on myself and fully immerse myself in other cultures across six continents. I’m beyond stoked and scared shitless all at the same time. I hope to inspire other people, especially women, who feel lost or a lack of purpose to do the same. If you want to pick my brain on any of the above, hit me up. I love and value input, feedback, and recommendations.

Connect with Ashley here:
Instagram
Facebook
LinkedIn
Website
And for her adventures – Ever Wander Life!

Know Any Voss Babes?

Do you know a female entrepreneur who loves social media as much as we do? Contact us today – we’d love to tell her story!

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