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Real Women, Real Money Talk: Q&A with Ashley Rector

By Maridel Reyes

  • PUBLISHED January 15
  • |

“It was a feeling I couldn’t shake,” says Ashley Rector on what spurred her in 2016 to launch Harness Magazine, a digital and print publication that features articles, art and poetry from women around the world. “Friends, coworkers, acquaintances, they all were sharing real and raw stories that I didn’t see represented in traditional mainstream media.”

Rector comes from a family of entrepreneurs. As an attorney in Columbus, Ohio, by day and an aspiring writer off-duty, she struggled to find an outlet for her own writing. So she decided to create her own platform—for herself and for other women’s voices. Since then, Harness has published more than 1,000 articles online and more than 100 pieces in print. 

Here’s what she’s learned about money through the years:


What do you spend too much money on? 
“In my personal life, I spend too much money on coffee and food. There is something about a warm latte and a muffin in the morning at my local coffee shop that helps me relax. And going with a friend to dinner is a treat from the moment you two agree that it’s a we’re-going-out kind of night. In my business life, I spend too much money on freebies. We donate to events, create freebies for our community and give away copies of the magazine, branded laptop stickers, mugs, sweatshirts, crop tops—even pizza. In the startup world, you should be a little more strategic with what you’re creating and giving away.”


What do you spend too little on? 
“I spend too little on self-care. Getting a manicure or a pedicure, haircut or a massage—I do away with these ‘frills’ to focus on more productive purchases, like continuing education. However, these simple pleasures go a long way toward confidence, relaxation and presentation. In my professional life, we spend too little on marketing and public relations. When you’re building a brand, the more eyes, the better. We’ve been conservative and organically grown our brand, however, we should have put a little more dollars and put a little more effort into these two categories in the beginning. Today, every avenue of marketing that we can pursue, we pursue.”  


What’s your biggest money regret?
“There is no cookie cutter approach to investing in your business and when the timing is right, but I can tell you from talking with many entrepreneurs, we all wish we would have invested more in our business up front. The biggest hang-up for most people is whether or not to leave their corporate job. You have two competing interests: financial stability and the desire to create something outside of the box. Eventually, you won’t have enough time to do both, and if you do, you aren’t doing one of those things well. 

“I think year one it made sense for me to keep my corporate job, but my financial mistake was taking $1,200 and turning it into a website…. I should have invested a bigger chunk of change in web development and design. After all, it was the first time the world was going to see my project, interact with the platform, and develop first impressions about the brand. My biggest mistake year two, was keeping my corporate job because time is money. By limiting the time I could dedicate to the brand, I was putting a cap on our success.”


What money moves do you feel most proud of?
“Investing in my education, my 401(k) and my business all have been the smartest financial moves I’ve made to date. All of those things have a common thread: investing in myself. You need to invest in yourself financially, mentally and spiritually.”


Maridel Reyes is a journalist based in New York. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Post, USA Today and the Boston Globe.

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