Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashleigh Cole.
Hi Ashleigh, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I’ve always had a love for science, nature, and beauty. During undergrad, I learned, explored, and then gravitated toward sustainability. I started researching and mixing different elements to achieve optimal natural products. But, life got in the way, and being an entrepreneur didn’t align with my responsibilities.
In 2013, I welcomed my one and only son, Zen Cole. Zen rightly owns his name. His aura reflects bright, calm, peaceful, reflection. He is known to keep a smile on his face, and to make others just as happy. Zen is my inspiration to live life truly full and peaceful. Zen is the inspiration for self-love and self-care, aka SincerelyZen LLC. SZ started as a class project and now, it is an emotional beauty and complete lifestyle wellness company.
SincerelyZen exists at the intersection of luxury & self-care, the crossroads where clean products & mental wellness meet. Our purpose is to craft & advocate for harmonious products & services that induce complete wholeness. Utilizing SCIENCE we craft luxe body butter, body polish, body glow soufflé, body glow oil, hair Kreme, and facial care systems, with the PURPOSE of achieving WHOLENESS.
We also supply self-care aides and facial/body tools. We work hard to make sure you, take care of yourself. We provide the necessities to indulge in being selfish with self-care.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
“Well, son, I’ll tell you: Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair…”
In 2017, I was working hard at my 9-5 as a single mom, responsible for everything. I had no clue what self-care was and honestly if I did, I didn’t have time to stop and really think about it. I was working at the DMV, busy typing away when I noticed my fingers started turning purple, and then blue. As if they were stained with ink.
I kept going back and forth to the sink trying to wash ‘the ink’ off. Soon after they began to get extremely cold, keeping me up during the night. I mean, frostbite cold in the middle of summer. I went to my PCP who drew blood to test against autoimmune diseases. The test can’t tell which disease is present, only if there is any type presenting. Mine came back positive and I was referred to a rheumatologist.
After hospital stays, bloodwork, exams, and extensive testing, I am diagnosed with scleroderma which is Latin for ‘scarred skin,’ inflammatory arthritis, and other disorders related to autoimmune overreaction. I soon became legally disabled, and physically, and mentally broken. At the age of 28, my identity had been replaced with that of a stranger. Zen helped spark the fight within me to do something about my loss of self and of my dreams.
I enrolled at Walden University and graduated in January 2022 with my first MS in forensic psychology, specializing in victimology and victim advocacy. I decided my body may be disabled but my mind is not. It wasn’t until finishing this degree, during my capstone project actually, that I realized how I can really enact positive social change. Before graduation, I enrolled in Walden’s counseling: trauma and crisis intervention licensure program.
Relearning myself, listening to my body, removing toxicity/toxins, daily meditation, and seeking counseling, create my identity and who I am today. I aim to help heal the MIND by bringing mental health awareness and resources to BPOC. I tend to the BODY, and appreciate my skin’s healing process and I produce products that encourage and enhance its glow, so others can too.
I cater to the SPIRIT, my ancestors guide my thoughts, wisdom, and intentions in the creation of my destiny. Available soon: Chakra ZENergy Candles, Luxe Clean Candles, meditation journals, & more.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
SincerelyZen, being a mother, and a graduate student, is pretty much my life. I am in charge of SZ’s day-to-day operations. I take care of product idea and creation, website design, marketing/advertising, social media, packaging, and shipping.
Everything involved with the business, I do on my own. However, Zen helps with product ideas and he often has the final say over finished projects. On top of this, I am a full-time mother and graduate student. Upon graduation in mid-2024, I will seek licensure to become an LPC in MO.
By working as a counselor I will bring SincerelyZen principles and mission to help heal the community around me. With my licensure, I will be able to further develop the MIND aspect of SZ. I’m proud to be able to show and help others heal in every aspect of their identity (mind, body, and soul).
Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I was born in Indianapolis but all I know is St. Louis! I love the diversity, especially the diversity within diversity! What I mean is, that no two people are alike, even if they do belong to the same cultural group.
We have a long way to go for equality, inclusion, and equity, but we aren’t last in the race either. I love the color of St. Louis, its song, and its dance. It’s a promise of opportunity and the love only homegrown folks can give. I look forward to helping move my city forward by being an advocate of mental health.
I do not like the taboo stereotypes placed within BPOC communities pertaining to mental health care. I aim to change this narrative.
- Website: Www.besincerelyzen.com
- Instagram: https://instagram.com/sincerelyzen
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/sustainable.beautybrand/
- Twitter: https://www.tiktok.com/@sincerelyzen
- Other: https://www.snapchat.com/add/makemeupmaven
Ashleigh A. Cole and Zen Ashton-Carter Cole