Photo: Cameron Bartlett
Ashley Cassidy Seale is a spirited communications pro with more than a decade of PR & marketing experience. Between her time in the agency world, helming teams and leading award-winning, national campaigns for lifestyle, fashion, and beauty brands to working in-house for designers + luxury retailers, Ashley has fine-tuned a truly holistic expertise. An early adopter of social media, she harnessed her digital know-how to build an online presence under the moniker Quaintrelle, which evolved from a lifestyle blog to a brand with workshops & events.
Harnessing her entrepreneurial spirit, Ashley founded Ruby Social Co. – a creative studio for clever brands – in 2017, after a decade in the PR and marketing industry. She offers communications, content, and event design services for a select range of clients across the lifestyle, wellness, and design worlds.
Ashley and her work has been featured in top tier publications like Domino, Vogue.com, Town & Country, Wedding Bells, CBC, and The Globe and Mail. An influencer in her own right, she uses this unique perspective to thoughtfully navigate her clients into the spotlight.
After enjoying a six month sabbatical in Paris with her husband Andrew, the two are back at home in Toronto with their daughter, Mimosa.
Photo: Andrew Seale
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what inspired you to start Ruby Social Co.?
Ruby Social Co. is a choice I made while driving through the French countryside on my honeymoon. That’s the romanticized version of my story. But it’s more than that – after a decade of late nights, little vacation time, and 60-hour work weeks, and my well-being at the bottom of the list, I was completely burnt out. Those 10 years were the most formative of my life.
I studied fashion marketing at Humber College, but my real education began at Pink Tartan, where I started as designer Kim Newport-Mimran’s assistant. I was 19-years-old and little experience but was bright-eyed, hard-working and absolutely determined. I began managing Kim’s schedule which gave me a lot of insight into the industry and introduced me to everyone from editors and stylists to producers and models. I realized I had a natural gift for building relationships, and this gave me the idea to move into PR. After about a year I decided to move from in-house to the agency world, where I spent 10 years creating campaigns, events, and social strategies for mega brands like TOPSHOP, Hudson’s Bay, Grey Goose, and Google. It was such a thrill!
As my 30th birthday began to approach I knew that I was really proud of the career I built, I didn’t have many of my own stories to tell. My identity was too heavily rooted in my work.
"The experience of living in a new city with no commitments gave me the luxury of time and space to dream up a new life for myself."
Photo: Cameron Bartlett
My fiancé (now husband) Andrew and I had the crazy idea of moving to Paris. We are both make-it-happen types so we schemed a plan to take a six month sabbatical in France. We found a youth visa and saved up for a year before letting go of our apartment, furniture, and belongings. I also left my job.
The experience of living in a new city with no commitments gave me the luxury of time and space to dream up a new life for myself. I came to the realization I loved the work I was doing but I was tired of building someone else’s dream, especially at the expense of my own happiness and health. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and knew if I was in charge, I could design a business focused on collaboration and keeping pace with the changing media landscape. I had a very specific vision and it was called Ruby Social Co.
As our time in France began to come to an end, I panicked. We had a wedding to pay for and striking out on my own felt like too big of a financial risk at the time. I talked myself out of my vision and returned to the agency life, only to immediately remember why I had left in the first place. But it took being on our honeymoon, a year later, back in the same town in France where I had originally hatched my master plan, that I decided to take a chance on myself and launch my business.
Three years on, it’s still the best career move I’ve ever made.
Photo: Lauren McPhillips
What does your typical day look like?
As different from the last one as possible. I’m most creative when I’m tackling a diverse to-do list with everything from building strategy decks and writing clever copy to designing moodboards and connecting with media. I try to take meetings out of the office when I can, and if there’s nothing in the calendar I’m not opposed to taking my work to inspiring places like Nutbar, Loft Cycle Club, or Dineen. We have a six-month-old daughter and my husband also works from home so we split the childcare duties. I learning my productivity is directly linked to getting an early start before she wakes up – it sets the tone for the day.
What was the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Waiting until you’re ‘ready’ is never a good idea. Ideally, your business will evolve as you do and as you get to know your ideal client/customer better. While I do think you should have a carefully thought out business plan, there’s something to be said for jumping in and getting started.
Photo: Lauren McPhillips
What does success mean to you?
I often wonder if success looks very different to me than many people in my industry because my business model is so different. I don’t aspire to build an agency so growth to me is not about scaling. Rather, I define success by the amount of freedom I have. The freedom to choose clients, to manage my own time, to work remotely. What’s most important to me is being able to help businesses whose values align with my own.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
Oh, I’m constantly giving myself a pep talk. It’s necessary when you work for yourself! I’m also looking forward to getting back to working from Make Lemonade when my daughter is a bit older. It’s important to surround yourself with people doing incredible things.
Do you have any morning routines or evening rituals to help you stay balanced?
I’m a morning person and breakfast is my favourite meal of the day – I go to bed dreaming about the toast, green smoothie, and almond milk latte I will make when I get up. At night I follow a simple skincare regime, but I always make sure to take that time for myself.
Where can we find you?