I am here with a brand new photoshoot of Ashley for sbjctjournal.com. Photos were taken by Swedish photographer Christian Högstedt and are incredibly beautiful. Hair was done by Bridget Brager, who also worked with Ashley to create hairstyles for Mane Addicts.
ERIN WALSH HELLO Ashley! First all of, congratulations on creating your newest baby, FRENSHE! I just can’t wait to see how this newest chapter will unfold. I would really love to dive into your wellness journey today and what brought you to develop your own wellness platform. Let’s go back though- can you tell us what really was the first catalyst for you in terms of wellness exploration?
ASHLEY TISDALE A few years ago I was going through a difficult time with anxiety and depression. I had been bearing this burden, this albatross of anxiety for years and I didn’t know I was suffering from depression until I was led to a profoundly impactful book, “Attacking Anxiety and Depression”. It really made me realize that anxiety and depression actually coincide with each other. I had come to this point in my life where I finally needed to reconcile the fact that something in my life had to change. I simply could not keep living how I was living. It had reached such a debilitating point- I remember going to pitch meetings with my production company and having such horrible anxiety and not knowing how to deal with it physically or emotionally- it felt like a panic attack at times. Finally, at one particularly paralyzing moment on set, my makeup artist told me that she thought I was likely suffering from anxiety and depression. And from there, I began consulting with a range of holistic and non-holistic doctors, and from say, the thought that something was wrong with me, it became more about really getting on a journey of gathering and harnessing information and knowledge from a range of experts. Through that journey over the past couple of years, it became obvious that there is so much to share, that I have been waiting to share in terms of both my experiences and what I have learned. And how much there is to learn, always. That is how I got to Frenshe.
EW What were your first baby steps in terms of exploring clean beauty and wellness?
AT My first baby steps with clean beauty were actually with deodorant. I had done some blood work that had shown fairly high metal levels in my body, so I began looking into what I was eating and what products I was using, and that was my first realization that deodorants contain aluminum. That was the first thing I completely took out. I have gone through a lot of natural deodorants, which lead me to some current faves. I love CORPUS. I also love TART. I also ended up cutting out dairy because I am fairly food-sensitive, and I realized it had been the culprit of some consistent stomach issues. Then I went on to toothpaste, switching to all-natural toothpaste. I’ve taken baby steps because you don’t want to look at being non-toxic in the same way you would a diet, because with diets, there is an endpoint- and this is more of a lifestyle shift. It all really goes back to balance and finding the symmetries and choices that resonate with you, physically, mentally, spiritually. I don’t think you have to turn your whole life upside down and make literally every element non-toxic. The baby steps and easing into change makes the transition a bit more digestible.
EW Walk me through your beauty brand and your journey in letting it go. What are some lessons you learned in the process of building and letting a business go that inform your newest venture?
AT Illuminate was one of the hardest things I had ever done because the first year I was partnered with another company and it did extremely well. To put it simply, I wanted people to feel beautiful and feel that makeup should illuminate you, that it should highlight your very essence. We all have flaws and insecurities and makeup for me was something that you can do to feel beautiful. But, in the end, I did not have much help, and I was thrown into managing this giant responsibility inclusive of investors and those implications, and it just became an engine of stress. This was actually exactly the time where I realized what I had been dealing with personally in terms of the anxiety and depression as well, and it was just too much. We all like to look to Instagram and social media and imagine how fantastic being a badass CEO might be, but I was also acting and making music at the same time, and I was simply not capable of handling another full time job. Being a CEO is in itself more than a full time job, and there I was, a CEO with virtually no help from anybody. It was very hard and humbling. Bottom line, I should have listened to my intuition- I saw the red flags, but I just wanted to take a chance on myself, and it didn’t work. I always thought that that venture would either be the biggest success or the biggest lesson. And it was a really, really big lesson. For one, I really don’t like being CEO. I’m a creative director, I love being creative, I love creating a brand and the looks and the colors… Did it feel like failure? Yes, there were times when I would wake up at three o’clock in the morning hysterically crying, just feeling like a failure. But I think that we are going to have failures in life and it’s all about how you get up and move on from that and get stronger. And I am so grateful because I feel like that whole process is what led me to Frenshe. I think that’s the silver lining for me, because I was able to face my darkest parts of myself, and really crack into what feels authentically me. I am so grateful.
EW Why Frenshe? Why now?
AT Frenshe is based on my married name, Ashley French. I feel like I’ve been on this journey, of finding myself through the last six years of being married. Everybody knows me as Ashley Tisdale in the business but I think I was finally ready to let people in and get to know me as Ashley French. It’s just a bit more personal. And I think that right now, with everything that’s going on in the world, I just felt like I wanted to connect with my audience on a different level. I wanted to do something in the health and wellness space, and I wanted to be honest and vulnerable and talk about the negative experiences that I’ve had with certain things, including even plastic surgery and uncomfortable moments. I didn’t want to do something in this sphere and edit out these parts. Frenshe is a health and wellness lifestyle blog aimed at building a community, that yes, is personal and dissects issues through my own lens of experience, but it’s so much more, and it really is about finding new lenses to explore these issues, with plenty of points of view. We have guest experts on climate change, on nutrition, Botox…Frenshe is a place to learn more about living a non-toxic life, and learning how to love yourself more. It really fills me with such pride and hope, and every day I get even more and more proud of it, just seeing it come to life. After Illuminate, I was so scared that I was never going to be really passionate about anything other than acting and singing again. It has just made me feel so inspired again.
EW What is your hope in creating this new platform? Is there a target audience/ demographic in mind?
AT I think that it’s hard to be vulnerable, but it was important to me because when I look back, for example with my rhinoplasty, I got such a negative reaction because plastic surgery wasn’t really accepted at that time. Going through something like that in the public eye, even if it was for health reasons, was incredibly difficult. And naturally, everyone had a different hypothesis or opinion, which evolved into the idea that I had three different nose jobs, which is, needless to say, definitely not the case. It’s interesting- plastic surgery is so accepted now, and I don’t know if that’s great either. I don’t want to judge if someone feels like they have to do something, but I also don’t want my niece, who is ten years old, to think that if you’re not perfect by some arbitrary beauty standards, that you can just change yourself and feel perfect. It is something that I feel we need to address and dissect and talk about, especially for younger kids considering it, to ensure that they have unpacked the reasons why they might want to change something in the first place. I really don’t know where that line is. I have my own experiences with what I’ve been through and I don’t think it makes you more confident. I think if you’re insecure you still need to uncover why you’re insecure, even if you do change something about yourself.
EW In the way of future plans, i.e. 5 year plan for Frenshe, what do you hope will unfold?
AT I don’t really know where Frenshe will go. Right now the most important thing to me is just keep building this site and this blog and platform. That’s where my focus is. I’m not really looking at five years from now and thinking where it can go yet. I’m someone who has to stay really present in the moment. That’s just how I’ve always been. I’ve never looked too far ahead, whether as an actress or as a businessperson. I’m someone who likes to stay in the moment. I think it’s a little bit overwhelming to me if I think too far ahead.
EW Do you feel a responsibility with Frenshe to use that platform to “pay it forward”? I actually think looking into green and clean solutions and wellness IS paying it forward in itself, but you tell me…
AT I want people to feel great about themselves. I want people to feel comforted knowing that we all come to the table with some problems and we all could use a little help. We all need to change and to learn how to change. I want people to understand climate change. I can’t say I’m the best at being the most green yet, but like I said, I think that this space is all about balance. We all have to start somewhere. If we live our lives looking away all the time, that in itself is damaging to ourselves and to our world. These little things, these small changes that all of us have the ability to make, can help our lives and in doing so, impact our world for good. I want to inform my audience of everything out there, and help them to try and live their best and happiest and healthiest lives.
EW Go to outfit to feel like a BOSS?
AT A suit. I feel very strong in a suit.
EW What is your favorite way to unwind?
AT My favorite way to unwind is to drink tea at night. I like to watch TV, get off my phone for a good hour to two hours before I fall asleep.
EW Go to unwinding outfit?
AT Unwinding outfit, definitely sweats, I am a huge fan of sweats. I love sweatshirts, sweat pants, anything that’s really comfy.
EW It is brave to pivot, to be unafraid of evolution. Well done, you. What is the most exciting part about this newest chapter for you?
AT I think the most exciting part about this chapter for me, is that I just get to be real, that I can be honest and not afraid of being honest, and that I can connect with my fans and my audience in a way that I have never connected before. I’m really loving that.
EW Biggest challenge in this business building process so far?
AT I really don’t look at it as a business right now. It’s really just about creating and writing posts and having friends write about what they’re passionate about. So it’s really just been fun for me. I don’t really look at it as a business. I think it comes from a more authentic place because of that.
EW Biggest mentor?
AT My mom. She taught me never to stop and to not give up on myself, to keep going even when it’s hard.
EW What are some of your favorite causes to support these days?
AT I really love to work with kids because, coming from Disney, we would do a lot of Christmas parties at the Children’s Hospital and connect with the kids at the hospital going through a difficult time. I have kept up that tradition. I love St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I’ve visited many times over the years. It’s pretty amazing.
EW Ashley Tisdale, what’s your SBJCT? What really moves and motivates you?
AT Staying grounded. I think I’m a pretty grounded person. I love to inspire people and I love to entertain people. I think that’s why I love acting so much. Since I was young, I loved the idea that entertainment can get you through a difficult time, how it can to transport you somehow. It’s why I love comedy, the idea of finding the joy even in difficult times, or entertainment to get you through it. I really enjoy doing that for other people, entertaining them and inspiring them. That’s what motivates me.