Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Carter.
Ashley, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I heard the quote “The distance you live from your supplier of fresh produce is one of the best predictors of your health.” I grew up in Liberty City, we did not have any major grocery stores within close proximity only corner stores. This quote did not sit well with me as I reflected on my community and I wanted to do something about it. I graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in Dietetics and Nutrition Science and a minor in Religion. I started working to improve the health of my peers in college as a health educator, making presentations and nutrition guidelines for other students. After graduation, I worked with a community program geared towards a low-income population giving nutrition education. I saw the need to focus more on culture and the impact our background, religion, and beliefs had on our food choices. I wanted to do more and talked to two of my girlfriends, who were my coworkers at the time. We all wanted to make a change to communities locally and abroad. My plan was to start a nonprofit in 2020 after becoming a Registered Dietitians, but my friends supported my vision and when opportunities came up, we started it right away.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Uhm, not quite! Don’t get me wrong, it has not been horrible either. I wanted to found a nonprofit, but the business aspect was very rough for me at first. I just wanted to help people, but it seemed like in the blink of an eye we were running an entire business, balancing that with our friendships, family, work and life. That was so challenging! I still remember questioning if my friendships with my business partners were going to suffer over our nonprofit. Luckily, we found ways to continue to be friends, to communicate, to still joke around, to have impromptu sing-a-longs and just do the things we enjoyed together. When it comes to starting a nonprofit, I would recommend finding mentors and leveraging them. I’m a member of the Black Professionals Network, I got a lot of guidance from them and attended every workshop that was relevant to me. Another piece of advice, in regard to doing business with friends, is communication is key. Have those tough conversations, no matter how uncomfortable you think it will be and always seek resolutions. Be transparent, humble, considerate and always remember why you started, and the best will come.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with EatWell Exchange – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I am one of the founders and directors of EatWell Exchange, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded in February of 2017 by myself and my friends Jasmine and Deidra. We help decrease negative health outcomes by teaching the benefits of foods you are accustomed to. Our target population is low socio-economic communities that need increased knowledge and access to healthier food choices. Working with communities, schools, churches, businesses, and presenting at festivals and conferences we use fun, interactive ways to implement change. Our motto is to meet people where they are, so we always suggest small obtainable goals based on their readiness for change and ability.
Some events we have include Cultural Chef Cook-off which is our annual fundraiser in Miami, this year it’s on April 27th at Tomorrowland. We bring chefs from different cultures to demonstrate how their traditional spices and cooking methods can create unique dishes even when they all use the same fundamental ingredients. This is a live cooking competition using a mystery box, like the TV show “Chopped”. Another event that was a highlight for us was traveling to Grand Goave, Haiti last year to teach the children of Carl’s Village how to improve their nutrition, and we started a garden there to increase access and affordability of healthier produce. We have educated almost 2,000 people so far and have so much more planned this year.
What advice would you give to someone at the start of her career?
I encourage all women to find their tribe and invest in them. I have a close circle of girlfriends who are my biggest supporters, motivators and my accountability partners. They whole-heartedly support any events and ideas and provide valuable feedback. Some of them even went on a mission trip to Haiti with me to support our first international initiative! Your circle should reflect where you want to go in life, and the energy you allow around you can either propel you in the right direction or hold you down. It’s your choice. Foster relationships that agree with your life and release any and everything that is not… no matter who it is. Always be open to network, meet new people and set intentions to work together. See other women as your allies and not your competition, find ways to collaborate with dope women you encounter. Trust your intuition, take that step you have been going back and forth about and never forget how amazing you are!
- Website: www.EatWellExchange.org
- Email: info@EatWellExchange.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/EatWellExchange
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/EatWellExchange
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/EatWellExchange
- Other: https://youtu.be/cXLuRbvLHi8