It’s important to differentiate between naysayers and constructive criticism. With respect to naysayers, to be honest, I don’t really pay that much attention to it and view them as background noise. I know my strengths, but I’m not too proud to listen to constructive criticism or feedback from those whose opinions I respect and value.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ashlee Froese. Ashlee is a lawyer and trademark agent who is recognized by the Law Society of Upper Canada as a Certified Specialist in Trademarks Law. With over 10 years’ experience practicing branding and fashion law, Ashlee provides a deep understanding of brand-protection strategies. For the past 3 years, Ashlee has also been recognized as one of the Top 1000 Global Trademark Lawyers by the World Trademark Review, and in 2019, she was awarded the Lexpert Zenith Award for her role as a legal changemaker. Prior to launching Froese Law, Ashlee was a partner on Bay Street. Ashlee is a frequent guest speaker and published author on branding, entertainment and fashion law; she has lectured at universities, cultural institutions, law societies and industry associations throughout North America and has been published in numerous magazines and academic publications. In 2015, Ashlee led a movement to allow the fashion industry to be eligible for government funding in Canada, paving the way for current and future fashion entrepreneurs. She is also one of the legal experts on the Ontario Cannabis Act, since the passing of bill C-45 back in November of 2017. Ashlee frequently provides her commentary to the media on leading branding and fashion law matters. Ashlee has had a tremendous impact on the Canadian legal community and continues to modernize the way that law is practiced. Due to her determination, leadership and strong entrepreneurial skills, Ashlee has become a leader and a trailblazer in the North American legal community.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you tell us your ‘backstory’?
Iam a branding, fashion and entertainment lawyer. I have been practicing law for over 13 years. For the first 10 years of practicing law, I was on Bay Street, which is basically the Wall Street of Canada. I fast tracked to becoming a partner in 6 years, which is pretty quick in the Bay Street world. I am recognized as a Certified Specialist by the Law Society of Ontario in Trademarks Law, and I am one of only 6 female lawyers in Ontario that hold that designation. I have also been recognized as one of the top 1000 Trademark Lawyers globally for the last 4 years.
A little over 2 years ago, I launched my own law firm, Froese Law. It is a law firm that caters to business to consumer branded businesses (i.e. fashion, cosmetics, influencers, DJs, celebrities, food, beverage, restaurants, etc.) Our clients range from multi-national global organizations to start up entrepreneurs.
We secure intellectual property assets, protect competitive advantage, structure businesses, manage clients’ third-party relationships, finesse their branding and negotiate commercial agreements to ensure that their businesses are ready for success in both Canada and the U.S. Whether you are a new brand launching in Canada or the U.S., an established brand going global or an international brand entering the Canadian or U.S. marketplace, we ensure that you are protected.
I am delighted to advise that last year, I received an award from the legal community for being a changemaker in law. Only 39 lawyers across Canada received this award.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m always making moves to grow and develop. There are certainly some exciting developments coming up in 2020 — we’re growing our team and developing our range of services to better help our clients. Ultimately, Froese Law was built on the premise that we are an ally to our clients’ success. We help our clients build their dreams into a reality so that they can shift pop culture.
In your opinion, what do you think makes your company or organization stand out from the crowd?
We’re tearing down the ivory tower construct of traditional law and we’re proud to be doing things differently. We’re probably the only law firm in Canada that focuses exclusively on business to consumer branded businesses in a holistic way. Because we have this industry-specific focus, we can see the trajectory of our clients’ businesses in a way that, perhaps, they cannot see. We bring business savvy to help our clients get deals done so that they can grow. We also are creating a law firm atmosphere that truly allies with our clients for their success.
Ok, thank you for that. I’d like to jump to the main focus of this interview. Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us? What was your idea? What was the reaction of the naysayers? And how did you overcome that?
I left Bay Street as a partner to launch my own firm. This is a gutsy move as being a partner on Bay Street brings stability and financial reward. However, I had conviction that there was another way to practice law and to provide value for my clients. I was honoured when I told my clients that I was launching my own firm that they not only decided to follow me to my own firm, but many also told me that they were waiting for me to make this decision.
It’s important to differentiate between naysayers and constructive criticism. With respect to naysayers, to be honest, I don’t really pay that much attention to it and view them as background noise. I’m smart, savvy, knowledgeable and I work very hard. I know my strengths, but I’m not too proud to listen to constructive criticism or feedback from those whose opinions I respect and value.
In the end, how were all the naysayers proven wrong? 🙂
By working hard. There’s no better way of proving ‘haters’ wrong than by simply buckling down and working as hard as you can!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As cheesy as it may be, I’m very grateful to my parents for being excellent role models. They were always passionate and dedicated to their careers, which is a trait that I got from them.
It must not have been easy to ignore all the naysayers. Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resilience? Can you share the story with us?
When I was an articling student, I was working at a law firm and the ‘sage’ advice (said sarcastically) of my mentor, who happened to be a woman, was to cut my hair, dye it brown and to not wear high heels, in order to be taken seriously. I remember thinking that it was a bizarre formula for success and didn’t really apply to me. (If you meet me, you’ll quickly understand why: long blond hair and skyscraper heels.) I guess I didn’t really know it at the time, but I intrinsically rejected the notion that in order to be successful in law, you have to ascribe to a certain look or mentality. I realized at that time I was given that advice, that the firm I was working at had an expiration date in my life. That was not the type of environment that I would flourish in.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 strategies that people can use to harness the sense of tenacity and do what naysayers think is impossible? (Please share a story or an example for each)
1. There’s no such thing as luck.
Knowledge is power. Preparedness is key. You may be able to get your foot in the door through sheer luck, but your ability to close deals is a result from knowledge and preparedness.
2. Don’t ask, don’t get.
You have to be your own best advocate and assert for what you are owed. No one else should be able to do this better than yourself.
3. Identify your talents and your shortcomings.
You’re not supposed to be amazing at everything. Play to your strengths and have an appreciation of what you’re not good at. Find people who can fill the skill gaps you have.
4. Your network is your net worth.
Find a career that you’re passionate about and build a network that inspires you and one that you trust. This will make a world of difference if you’re choosing to work for the next 30 years or so.
5. Don’t forget to live your life.
Despite being a lawyer and a business owner, I’m a big proponent that you should work to live, and not the other way around. Life is short and you only have one.
What is your favorite quote or personal philosophy that relates to the concept of resilience?
I’m a big fan of the sentiment: “it’s easier to hate than to create”. This is why I give little credence to naysayers.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I build my firm with the purpose of enabling people to build their dreams. In order to do that, they need to believe in themselves. So I guess for me, I’d love to inspire more people to tap into their potential and believe that they can achieve what they want out of life — whatever that may be.
Where can our readers follow you on social media?
You can follow my firm Froese Law at @Froese_Law on Instagram and Twitter and @FroeseLaw on Facebook. You can follow me at @Ashlee_Froese on Instagram and Twitter.
Thank you for all of these great insights!