We love meeting influencers from all over the country (the world!), but we also get excited when we get Ashlee Nichols (@ashleeknichols) is Texas-born and raised and carries that Lone Star spirit with her wherever she goes. Her constant trend-defining new looks and fresh takes have kept her in our feed since we can’t remember when. Maybe it’s her consistency we love. Or maybe it’s just her can-do demeanor.
What’s not to like about a woman who grew up on a ranch, met her husband in college, and started teaching Kindergarten while they settled on a ranch of their own — someone who had it down but also constantly looking for a better way.
On New Year’s Day 2012, she found it.
Burned out on teaching and aiming to start a family, she started a blog. Now three kids, more than a half-million Insta followers, and one “big, beautiful, and busy life” later, and she continues to impress and amaze us with her ability to juggle, talk about her struggles, and do it all while looking and feeling incredible.
“I finally feel like I’ve reached a healthy work-life balance,” she told us recently. “Women, especially moms, have a hard time asking for help. Somewhere along the way, I had to realize it’s OK to ask for help. It’s necessary.”
Proceeds from Ashlee’s Band Together will go towards One Voice Home, an organization that “provides a safe home for restoration and new beginnings.”
“It’s a cause so dear to me, and I’m so proud to be able to continue to help, support, and share their message,” she says. “It’s very personal, and I believe my band is a reflection of that too.”
We couldn’t be happier to welcome Ashlee to the Spark*l Band Together family with an accessory that’s as unforgettable as she is!
Below are some excerpts from a recent conversation we had with Ashlee where she gets personal with how she got started and what makes her go!
I was born and raised in a small town in west Texas. I met my husband, who also farms and ranches, and we moved to a small town after college. I started teaching Kindergarten, and when I had our daughter, our first child, I stayed home with her and started getting into social media. I started a blog in 2012 as a New Year’s resolution. I didn’t realize it would become a full-time job. I love it! And allows our family so many opportunities. Now there are three kiddos, and we just love being outside and love traveling and playing with them. It’s busy. They’re into sports, art, dance—everything. It’s a full-time job in itself.
So, one thing to know about my job is it looks different from year to year. I finally feel like I’ve reached a healthy work-life balance. I started out being on constantly. That’s what you feel you have to do, be on, engaging—all the time! And I found myself being a little burned out. So it was about just having to decide to take a step back or get some help. Women, especially moms, have a hard time asking for help. I had to realize it was OK to ask for help. That’s when I really started building my team and employees into a full-time business. There’s a full team and people that help me manage and organize and stay on task, and I set my working hours while my kids are at school. I work during working hours and really put it away. That took me a while.
At this point, we know who we are and know who we want to be, and that’s to be better for our family and community.
Was there a breaking point? I don’t think so. I kind of worked really hard for several years to build and build and build. Then I realized I could keep building or really focus on what I have, and I chose the latter. And really, that was the time I [decided] to pour it all into my family. I started to focus on followers who were there and who’ve been there instead of getting to the next point. I realize what’s healthy and put that thing first.
So I feel like Instagram will always be my heaviest-engaging platform, and it’s kind of where I started. I got my account in 2011 and have had it forever. I enjoy engaging with my followers in Insta stories and DMs, and videos. TikTok is quickly taking over — I have a fairly good following over there. It’s a bit time-consuming to make the kind of videos that are popular, so it’s not always the best bang for my buck. I discovered I shouldn’t create content for the platform as much as I should create content period and see what platforms [will] benefit from it. I have a website that I’ll always have: Insta, Tiktok, and Facebook — I have audiences for each one, and each is a little different.
I think that my demo is 25- 40-year-old women. Ninety-eight percent are women (laughs). If they’re not moms, they’re in that age group where they can relate. Relatable is what got me to where I am. I really just am myself. I’m sharing whatever I’m doing. I’m sharing products I’m doing. I’m sharing what I find and love and travels, and whatever’s going on in our life. Our account has changed with who I am. I’m not the same person as who started it ten years ago. My audience has grown up and changed with me. I had babies and been pregnant built houses. I’m happy to be able to share that.
I worked for free for so many years. This was an outlet for me. I moved to a small town and started new friendships. When you’re 25 you don’t think about moving towns, starting over, making new friends, and what all that entails. I moved three hours from where I grew up, and something I did for fun and to stay connected just kind of evolved into being a job. I think I didn’t realize until about 2015 — after I did it free for four years — I was like, I think people are getting paid for what I’m doing. I told my husband that, and he said you either need to go back to teaching or figure something out. We agreed to give it one year to match my teaching salary. I set the goal for matching my teaching income and surpassed it in months. It was definitely eye-opening. I had no idea I could have a career and be at home. Nobody in my area did it. People were asking me if I was trying to be a model. And, truthfully, I lost some friends. But now, there’s lots of influencers in my area. It’s not necessarily that I paved the way, but a lot of explaining yes it’s my job, yes it’s unconventional — I’m happy, so leave me alone, was a lot. It was definitely hard. In the beginning, nobody knew what I was doing. Even now, since I live in a small area, people notice my voice in the grocery store, and they come around the corner and say, ‘Oh, it’s you!’
2020 changed all of us. I really had to learn my boundaries. I was always going to be me. But that comes with so many opinions and division and so many negative things for my own mental health. And I had to put my own and my family’s well-being first. I had to set boundaries about things I wasn’t going to let into my life and things I wasn’t going to share with the world. As far as followers and financially, it was a blessing and a curse because I had worked from home for so long nothing really changed for me. At the same time, I was seeing people’s worlds crumble around them. It brings you a sense of guilt when you have things in place — nobody could foresee anything — having this built before 2020 was a huge advantage of not losing my income, and a lot of people did. We are incredibly thankful, but It did bring a sense of guilt. My job and our lives stayed the same. I tried to find ways to give back and help our community, and help small businesses, even little things like getting take out and tipping waitresses that couldn’t go into their job, finding families to bless. We feel very, very blessed and also a little guilty took that in helping others, to who much is given, much is expected. We feel like we could help, so we do.
My most asked about band and my most worn Rose Gold Leopard, my people love a good leopard!
I think I saw Spark*l on one of my friends’ Apple Watches. I asked where she got it — how she shared it. They sent me one band, or maybe two loved them so much I signed up for a newsletter and purchased them when they came out. People would get irritated that they were sold out, and I had one (laughs.) There are so many cute things, but you can’t get mine! It’s a very organic thing for me. People ask what I’m wearing literally by the minute, and if they see it on me in my stories, I love to share it. Meeting Courtney and Joe solidified it. They’re my people: so kind, heavily focused on family and community and giving back. It’s a great fit for me to share with my community. My most asked about band and my most worn Rose Gold Leopard, (laughs), my people love a good leopard!
2022’s a year for growth. Personal growth, growth by family. [Our] goal for this year is to push ourselves to be who we were meant to be and start being that in our community, giving back, and partnering with people who really align with our core values. I’ve had to learn to say no to a lot of companies and brands and people who just really don’t align with our core values. At this point, we know who we are and know who we want to be, and that’s to be better for our family and community. Partnering with Spark*l at the beginning of 2022 is a high point. For us, it’s more charity, more giving back, more being involved in things that matter. When you feel it, you know you can help change people’s lives.