…we are just trying to help families so that they can build their families through adoption. It would be nice to have people understand the costs that come with adoption, emotionally and financially for the adoptive family and the birth families. Adoption education more in communities and in society in general would be wonderful.
I had the pleasure to interview Ashley Hensley. Ashley is the founder of Smocked Polkadot, a Southern-inspired children’s apparel collection and the Seecaas Hope For Adoption Foundation. A Virginia native and the mother of three young children, Ashley is devoted to her mission of helping other families adopt.
Thank you so much for joining us Ashley! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path.
In 2014, my second son was born. He was brought into our family by adoption. I loved staying at home with my boys but I also loved to work. So I decided to bring the two together. Dressing my kids in cute clothing that matched was a passion of mine, so after many discussions with my husband, I decided to turn my dream of starting a children’s clothing line a reality. I went into it full force and never looked back. Fast forward to 2016 when my daughter was born and brought into our family by adoption. My company, Smocked Polkadot, was doing well and I still enjoyed every minute of designing and selling directly to my customers.
After much thought and because of our love for adoption and adoption completing our family, I launched the Seecaas Hope for Adoption Foundation. This foundation is created to help families with the cost of adoption. Having gone through two successful adoptions and one failed adoption, we know the financial responsibilities that come with adopting. Sometimes the expense is the barrier that stops families from adopting and we want that to stop. We would love to see all families that want to adopt be able to do so.
A proceed of every item sold at Smocked Polkadot goes into our Seecaas Hope for Adoption Foundation. I am also launching a women’s shoe line called Seecaas the end of this year and a proceed of every item sold at Seecaas will also go into our foundation. Our first recipient will be named in November 2019 and we are so excited for this. For those of you wondering where the name Seecaas came from, it is the first letter of all of our families names. S for Sophie our first fur baby who is now 14, Ella our daughter, Eli our middle son, Caden our oldest son, Adam my husband and me, Ashley.
My family, love for children’s clothing, designing, and passion for adoption has brought me exactly where I need to be. I have always wanted to be able to help people in some way and I feel this is where it needs to be, helping families with adoption. Knowing the joy you get when your child is placed in your arms for the first time is beyond amazing.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization.
We recently had our very first event in Manhattan to celebrate being at the iconic Macy’s Herald Square. Meeting our longtime supporters, influencers, and young actors was definitely a highlight of our journey, as well as seeing the event mentioned in Star Magazine the following week!
Seeing my family come together and support my dreams has been one of the most amazing things ever. Also reading all of the applicants stories for the adoption grant has been such a heartwarming experience. I have cried, laughed and really felt for the families. I understand where they are in the process, because we have been there.
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Seecaas Hope for Adoption Foundation has a positive impact on families wanting to adopt. It helps with different expenses that are associated with adoption and we are just glad we are able to help in any way we can. Proceeds from both of my companies fund the foundation.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve.
We aren’t really trying to solve a problem with our foundation, we are just trying to help families so that they can build their families through adoption. It would be nice to have people understand the costs that come with adoption, emotionally and financially for the adoptive family and the birth families. Just adoption education more in communities and in society in general would be wonderful.
How do you define Leadership? Can you explain or give an example.
I think that leadership could mean many different things. I don’t feel that leadership has to come from one person in a group, community or organization. It can be people working together to bring something to life. For example, I may be the founder of my companies and Foundation, but without the help and support of my whole work team it would not at all be possible to be able to do what I do. So I think that a team as a whole can bring leadership to its highest peak.
What are your “ 3 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share an example for each.
- One of the things I wish someone would have told me, is how to separate work from homelife, that is something that I still struggle with on a daily basis. How to balance family and work. I am slowly learning to do so.
- Make time for yourself. When I first started Smocked Polkadot in 2014, I remember the candle burning at both ends, and sometimes you have to. But if you don’t take care of yourself you can’t possibly run your company and be there all the way for your family. So always remember to do this. It makes all of the difference in the world.
- Don’t let the answer No stop you from following your dreams. You may be told “No” many times on your journey to achieve your goals. If I listened every time someone said No, nothing of what I have started today would be here. So keep going , there are ways around every obstacle you may face on your journey.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Oprah
This quote applies so much to everyday life as well as creating and starting your company or foundation. If you don’t have the courage to go after or ask for what you want, it is guaranteed that you will never get it because you didn’t ask. Make sure you always ask, even if the answer is no, there will always be a different route.
Is there a person in the world or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
It would be Oprah. I always go to her quotes for inspiration. She is such an inspiring woman and I love her story. She makes you feel like you can do and be anything that you want to do as long as you try. The charity work that she does is phenomenal. Such an amazing woman.
You can find us on facebook on our business page Smocked Polkadot. Join our closed group on facebook here www.facebook.com/groups/smockedpolkadot and on Instagram @smockedpolkadot