Meet Ashley Gardner. Ashley is a mother of two, works in the Diversity & Inclusion space at Google and is the Mom behind Growing With the Gardners. We love how she puts herself and her family out there authentically and aligned with her values and mission. Check out this must read interview in which Ashley shares with us why she started Growing with the Gardners, the important circle of women she surrounds herself with and what lessons she learned as a Mom in 2020. She is total #momgoals (in a very relatable and real way) and if you don’t follow her then you really should. Read on to see why.
Tell us a little about yourself
I’ve been with Google for 5 years now. I started as Customer Experience Manager back in 2016 and most recently transitioned into the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion space. My husband & I are coming up on our 7 year wedding anniversary, and out of this union, we birthed two beautiful spirits. Our daughter Harper is 5 and our son Sage is 2 -- both have over the top personalities once you get to know them. They definitely keep us entertained.
In 2018, I felt compelled to start a digital platform @growingwiththegardners which entailed sharing my beautifully imperfect family with the world on Instagram & YouTube in order to get more positive images of Black families out into the world.
How did you come to your current professional path?
I truly believe that all of your past experiences play a part in the role you’re playing today. When I think about the roles that I didn’t enjoy 100% of the time, I now realize that I needed those opportunities to be successful in what I’m doing today. So, embrace the journey and stay on the path.
What motivated you to build Growing with the Gardners on social media?
I started Growing With The Gardners platform in 2018. I share tips on motherhood, wellness and career in hopes of inspiring Mothers to enjoy a balanced life. I was motivated to start my digital platform because I never saw positive images of Black families floating around on Instagram, only white families. And positive images of every race is important to our future generations so I am sharing my family to contribute in this way. My entire family are passionate advocates for equity in cultural diversity.
What’s your “why?”
Knowing that I am changing the trajectory of my future generations.Who is part of your community and how have they enriched your life?
My Mother transitioned from Oklahoma to Georgia when I was very young. This took me away from the only friends I had known my entire life, my cousins, but also created a space for me to explore new friendships and be vulnerable. I can think of two spaces in which I developed life-long friendships. The first, Anderson Boys & Girls Club - I was one of the first girls included after the club rebranded & began to allow girls into the space. So, when I saw a new member that happened to be a girl, we’d naturally navigate towards one another. I remained friends with these girls from Elementary age to present day adulthood. Also, when I went off to college at Georgia State University, I pledged a sorority & gained so many friends that became my sisters. This is the same sisterhood our Vice President, Kamala Harris is a soror of -- Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. I call these two groups my circle and they have been there for me in every crevice of life.
Has COVID changed how you parent?
Tremendously. I have learned to extend a lot more grace to myself, my husband & my children in order to maintain a healthy wellbeing. Last year, I had to flex between working from home while homeschooling my 5 year old. Like other Mothers, this was one of the hardest times in my life. As a recovering perfectionist, my old ways did not contribute to a healthy well being. For example, I needed to learn that if my house was dirty after a long day of work + mommying to be okay with leaving the mess because it was the best I could do for that day. Learning how to extend grace and being okay with my best each day were some of the best practices I implemented.
What about 2021 excites you?
I gained a lot of clarity in 2020 just by being still. So I am taking those clear messages I received, and I will be making those dreams a reality. This year is the year of transition for me, stepping into all things bigger & better. Be on the lookout for more from my brand!
Is there a quote or book that inspires you?
"Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. - Dr. Mae Jemison