Ashley Crouch is from San Antonio, owned “an ankle-length denim skirt for every day of the week” in high school and studied theology here at the University of Dallas.
Now she goes to the same church as Jim Gaffigan, lives a walk from “the original ‘Catholic Worker’ house, founded by Dorothy Day,” helped start Verily Magazine, founded her own company and is soon to launch a new app.
Crouch will be returning to her alma mater on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in Lynch Auditorium to give her talk “Life and Love on Tap.”
Corresponding over email, Crouch shared her mission and journey from being a denim-skirt wearing high schooler to living and working at the heart of cultural conversation: New York City.
“I chose to go into media because I love the art of storytelling and being a voice of hope. I love the ability to capture minds and hearts through the written word,” Crouch wrote. “As Catholics, we believe that the Word became Flesh. The words we choose literally become reality, too, and it’s critical for us to choose our words and phrases carefully. We have to know how to speak the language of the culture to dialogue with it, while integrating our faith into that sphere, as well. Language and beauty ha[ve] an enormous power to influence minds and hearts.”
In Crouch’s work, this pertains especially to women. As she works to empower women, especially in the media, she has “the opportunity to showcase authentic beauty.”
Beauty drives Crouch’s work whether in her new daily-inspiration app, “Bloom, Lovely,” in her writing or in the PR and strategy work of her company, Appleseed Communications.
“I believe beauty can save the world, as Dostoevsky said. The problem is, we have the wrong idea about what beauty is. So I travel the world and write all about beauty, media [and] the culture,” Crouch wrote.
Her travels first took her to Manhattan to launch “Verily Magazine,” which aims, according to its website, “to empower and inspire women to be the best versions of themselves.”
“I wanted to get involved in the fashion industry and realized that my heart responded to beauty and creativity more than intellectual debate,” Crouch wrote. “I wanted to be able to touch people through that channel of a fashion and lifestyle magazine.”
The magazine had 180 media features in eight months, sold out in Barnes and Noble stores nationwide and is now available digitally. Realizing how much she enjoyed this entrepreneurial process, Crouch left “Verily” to found Appleseed Communications.
Inspired by Johnny Appleseed, Crouch hopes to “plant businesses and stories around the country and help them grow to build a better world.” Her plan of empowering women fits a growing trend in businesses to show women “as strong, capable, intelligent individuals, instead of resorting to the tired ‘sexy’ narrative.”
“We can change the world if we have vision and the ability to communicate that vision through powerful words that spark imagination, propose new ways to live and offer practical solutions,” Crouch wrote.
Crouch offers one practical solution in her new app, “Bloom, Lovely.” Realizing that “lasting change happens through daily repetition over time,” she offers inspiration through both the app and a journal.
“Women receive meditations and quotes about beauty for every day of the year to help them understand their self-worth,” she wrote. “Bloom, Lovely is about training your brain. It provides a daily opportunity to absorb the collective wisdom of over 300 great minds.”
Appreciating the community of great minds comes in part from Crouch’s formation at UD.
“Through the Great Books program, I clashed [with] minds and exchanged thoughts with the thinkers who shaped history, entering their timeless conversation that continues even now,” Crouch wrote. “UD was a steady process of self-discovery…[i]t offered me the template that I bring into my personal and professional life.”
Junior Bridget Safranek, treasurer of the UD Society for Women, has finally brought Crouch to campus trying for two years. Safranek describes the Society for Women as an “umbrella club for anything that has do with women” and one that shares Crouch’s desire to empower women through an understanding of authentic beauty.
Crouch advises anyone hoping to join this movement of understanding authentic beauty through the media or fashion worlds to “to pursue what you truly love, not just what you think you should do.” Practically speaking, one should find a mentor, “network like crazy,” follow through with those connections (even if just for coffee) and seek opportunities to serve.
Ultimately, whether in fashion, media or any other field, the world needs our efforts. As Crouch wrote, “[t]here are so many ways to change the world. We need everybody thinking creatively about how to do it.”