HER VOICE: Empowering women to live their dreams
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Ashley Rae says her passion is helping other women succeed.
After graduating from the University of North Dakota in 2002, Rae moved to the Twin Cities, where she started a Web design company. She later moved to California, where she did marketing and Web design for small businesses. But after a few years she decided to move back to Grand Forks, where she grew up, to be closer to family.
Then at the end of last year she decided to narrow her business’s focus to doing marketing and consulting for independent female business owners.
“I wanted to do something that I had a true passion for, something where I was making a difference,” the 33-year-old said. “I really just want to help women live their dreams.”
Rae’s company, Brand Logic, works with female entrepreneurs as well as women who are independent consultants for established businesses, like multilevel marketing companies. The company has been helping a lot of women over the past six months, Rae says, but she would like to be able to reach even more women on a national scale.
Because not everyone can afford to hire her firm and she wants to empower all independent businesswomen, Rae says she launched Her Brand Development Group, a Web-based mentorship program for independent business women, last May.
“Our goal is to help women reach their full potential and become leaders and role models in their fields,” Rae said.
Members of Her Brand Development Group pay $10 a month to receive mentorship, guidance and the initial support needed to get a business up and running, Rae said.
It includes online training webinars on topics like creating a marketing brand, running finances and developing a website, as well as mentorship sessions that provide members with “constant motivation and encouragement to live their goals,” Rae said.
“It’s so exciting,” she said. “I really wish there would have been a group like this when I was up and coming.”
Rae, who was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in 2008, also started a foundation to help those affected by cancer overcome the emotional challenges of the disease. The Cope Well Foundation, which launched in 2011, offers free programs like counseling services and group support meetings.
“I was doing a lot of public speaking and doing things to raise awareness for the North Dakota Cancer Coalition and the Bismarck Cancer Center on sun safety and preventing skin cancer, but during that process I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough,” Rae said.
In talking with cancer survivors and patients, she found that the service that seemed to be most lacking was something to provide emotional support for patients, survivors and their families.
“There’s a lot of attention put on the physical recovery, but sometimes the emotional recovery is overlooked and ignored,” she said.
Rae was 28 when she was diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to skincancer.org. She was surprised, scared, nervous and unsure of what to expect. She’s had nine moles removed since then. Some were precancerous and some were not. Rae says she hasn’t had any moles removed for two years now.
“I’m definitely a believer that everything in life happens for a reason,” Rae said. “I believe that not only are we supposed to use the experiences we go through in life to better own lives, but I truly believe that we’re supposed to use our experiences to better the lives of others.”
The foundation has members throughout North Dakota and has a few members in Minnesota, Missouri and California, Rae said.