The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team.
Ashley Kesner is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
Hi there! I'm Ashley Kesner - sober millennial mom, maniac mental health blogger and advocate, and your favorite not-so-serious addiction recovery coach! My story is a little unique in that just a little over a year ago, I was in a completely different position that I am today. After struggling with alcohol and depression for the majority of my life, an unsuccessful attempt at taking my life landed me in an ICU and then admission into an adult behavioral health unit. It was here that I finally had my "ah-ha!" moment and needed to get help, but after finding out quickly that AA wasn't for me, I failed with every attempt I made to get sober. Falling into the worst depressive episode of my lifetime - spending two weeks in bed not eating or bathing myself - I realized I had two choices to pick from. Start over, or make another attempt at saving my world from me. Something higher than me that I choose not to define, told me to get out of bed and tell the world everything I was hiding. At that time, it was the only thing I felt that could keep me accountable. So, I did just that. I created a blog - GHOST IN MY BEDROOM - disclosing all of my pain and challenges and shared to my Facebook page for all of my family and friends to read. Needless to say, I was not criticized or shamed - I was filled with love. From that day forward, my life changed. GHOST IN MY BEDROOM has now been read by over 34,000 people, not only helping me find my "cynical not clinical" voice but my purpose for being on this Earth, and that's to help others free what has been haunting them... themselves. During this journey, I finished my bachelors degree (a 13-year long career) and was recognized on The Female Influencer (LinkedIn), noting all the challenges I faced and overcame to achieve it. I also have obtained board-certification as a Peer Support Specialist to aid others in their recovery and will be launching the company I have built from scratch - Free Your Ghost - where I will be offering services starting April 16, 2021, as this is also the day I will be celebrating one year alcohol-free. Going from a depressed and suicidal addict to an enlightened and sober CEO in less than a year isn't that "normal," of course. But, what is "normal" anyway?
What did it take / how did you get started?
It takes a lot of courage to truly be authentic in this world and do what I do on a daily basis, but I have learned that vulnerability is my superpower, and sobriety is my shield. No amount of judgement or criticism can deter me from working what I set out to from the very beginning - my mission - to spark curiosity for a better tomorrow.
What does the future look like for you and your hustle?
I don't really know. I only focus on the day I'm in. But at the moment, it looks pretty damn promising. I'm hopeful! My goal is to eventually build Free Your Ghost to include multiple coaches specializing in different areas of recovery.
What drives / motivates you?
As I have found what I believe to be my "true happy," my derivative of success is purely the success of others. Makes me kind of dangerous if you think about it, because I'm willing to go to great lengths to achieve it. The only competition I have is myself. That leaves a world full of limitless possibilities of which I gratefully utilize.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Well, I don't want them to do what I do or I'd be out of a job. Just kidding. Peer support is an emerging field in the social services arena, but is an evidence-based and proven method to helping those with addiction challenges. It has changed my life immensely and is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who self-identifies with a mental health or prior addiction looking to help others! Each state generally has their own guidelines on how to become certified. The best way to find out that information is using Google! (I am also available to help anyone, as well.)
What has been the hardest part of the hustle?
The most difficult part of this has been building a company from scratch with nothing. I am a single mother and started this journey feeding myself and daughter with food assistance. I am actually still in the system, which makes this even more unique. Everything is happening so quickly though and I don't see that being the case for very long... I hope.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Two of my favorite books of all-time are You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson. Phenomenal authors with two very important messages; self-love is crucial to success, and being truly happy means knowing that you don't have to be all the time.
Side or full-time hustle?
List the founders
(myself) Ashley Kesner, CPS
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
70 hours+ (I spend a lot of time networking and connecting with others)
# of Employees?
One employee (myself, sole owner) and 4 volunteers
When did you start?
I started my blog/recovery on February 12, 2020. I created and established FreeYourGhost LLC on December 2, 2020.
How much did it cost to launch?
My father is an attorney, so that helped with the costs of forming the LLC. Other than that, roughly $3000 for what will be my first year of business.
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
I am a part-time graphic design artist, so I designed and sold merchandise and apparel, as well as, asked for donations to fundraise the amount I needed in order to avoid going into too much personal debt. I raised about $2000.
My projected annual revenue for my first year after analyzing current level of growth, is around $100k.
Any call to action?
Truthfully... love and support. I am always happy just having my story shared. If it can help one person see that they are worth it to make better choices for themselves, I've completed my mission.