meet TO’s hottest up-and-coming media magnate // the hassard
if there’s one person that epitomizes awesomeness in everything she does, it is most definitely Ashley Hassard. I caught up with Ash over a coffee the other day to chat about her latest endeavour – SKYN Magazine. enjoy.
jti. so, who are ya’ ms. Hassard?
ah. I’m a peanut butter loving, aloe juice drinking, life enthusiast who also enjoys a good photoshoot, lesson plan, magazine submission, and motivational talk.
jti. well I’m glad we sorted that out! out of all that, what are you spending most of your time on these days?
ah. Ha, well to put it simply, a little bit of everything. As a model, motivational speaker, teacher, editor and life enthusiast, I spend most of my days running from photoshoots to classrooms, and everywhere in between.
In truth though, the vast majority of my time is spent working as Editor-in-Chief of SKYN Magazine.
jti. you are a obviously a busy woman. so, can you give us the elevator pitch? what’s SKYN all about?
ah. With the class of GQ and the caliber of Huffington Post, SKYN picks up where Playboy left off, as an online lifestyle and culture magazine that aims to curate pop culture in a jaw dropping way.
jti. well said. I am certainly intrigued. what inspired you to launch this jaw dropper of a magazine?
ah. I was fortunate enough to launch SKYN with my partner Emmanuel Alexander earlier on this year. We saw a niche in the publication industry that needed to be filled, and thought, “Why not!?”. Yeah there were other online magazines out there, but none of them really hit the mark in terms of quality, class, or attainability. We wanted to have a sensual take on pop-culture that inspired and empowered all those involved in it. So that’s exactly what we did, we curated something that was full of beautifully crafted content that was as inspiring as it was empowering for both our readers and our contributors.
jti. well it seems like you have really hit the ground running, and that’s not easy to do! have you had any mentors that have helped to shape you over the years? can you share the best lesson they’ve given you?
ah. I’ve had some incredible mentors in my life, but the most significant as of late would have to be my partner Emmanuel. He’s an incredible person who constantly challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone and grow. He started SKYN from the ground with me, with no prior publishing experience, and showed me that with the right amount of effort, a heck of a lot of passion, and a solid vision, absolutely anything in life is possible.
jti. that is a great thing to have in a partner. starting a digital magazine from the ground up is obviously a s*&t-ton of work, but what would you say is the most awesome thing about what you do?
ah. The coolest thing about my job with SKYN is definitely getting the opportunity to empower the amazing creative people around us. Whether it’s showcasing a model for her mind as well as her body, or providing a platform for photographers to share their often-untold stories – it’s the most incredible feeling to be able to recognize great people doing great things.
jti. amazing. ok, onto some rapid fire questions! can you describe yourself in one sentence?
ah. I’m an incurable optimist with an old soul and the heart of a child.
jti. what is your proudest achievement in the past year?
ah. Starting up SKYN would definitely be up there, but this past year was also riddled with a whole bunch of other incredible moments. I wrapped up a nation wide speaking tour talking to kids about the realities of hunger and the importance of food security, I traveled to India and Nicaragua leading two amazing groups of youth volunteers with Me to We and Free the Children, and I renovated my very first condominium, something I think my dad would be incredibly proud of.
jti. ok so it’s settled… you are ridiculously awesome. next, if you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
ah. Peanut butter… on a spoon… with a little bit of honey.
jti. yes! a classic favourite. name a random thing about you that most people wouldn’t guess…
ah. Well lately I’ve been a bit of a homebody, but in my true form I’m a die-hard adrenalin junkie. Whether it’s eating scorpions in China or running 6 marathons in 6 days across Bolivia, I live for new experiences and love a good adventure.
jti. I can relate to that! what’s your favourite thing to keep active?
ah. I’m a runner by heart, so that’s definitely up there, but honestly, when it comes to proper workouts, I love any sort of group activity. I thrive off being around other people, so any place where there are a lot of other people doing the same sort of thing is my cup of tea.
jti. what a coincidence… we might be able to help out there! do you ever nerd out? if so, what on?
ah. Ha, life. Let’s be real, I’m a total dork.
jti. nice, life is one the best things to nerd out on. so, you’re a TO local. what’s the most awesome thing about Toronto?
ah. Oh, man, there are so many! The most awesome thing about Toronto, I’d say, would be the incredible people that we have here. It’s like this incredible microcosm of New York, with half the space and double the creatives.
jti. couldn’t agree more. we’ve also got a stellar amount of food to choose from. what’s your favourite TO restaurant? And, what’s your classic order?
ah. Gosh, that’s a tough one – there are literally so many! There’s this incredible place in Liberty Village called local that has the best food in the world. It’s always packed, has a great vibe, and is full of some of the best comfort food you’ll find around. My personal go-to’s are The Local Burger with fries or the Baja Fish Tacos. They’re to die for.
jti. I will put those on my to-try list! ok, so as a ridiculously ambitious woman, I’ve got to know – goals for 2016? where are you headed?
ah. Gosh, who knows. This past year’s been such a wild ride and has taken me to so many places that I could have never imagined a mere 12 months ago. Had I set explicit goals back then I would have never reached where I am now, so I think now I’m going to keep the whole go-with-the flow attitude going, and rather than setting a set path, going more with where life takes me.
jti. I like that mentality. do you have a personal mantra or favourite quote? also, it’s totally cool if you don’t…
ah. It’s funny how when you grow into yourself the world starts to notice.
jti. awesome. well, let’s close it out with a fun one. what adventure is at the top of your bucket list?
ah. Oh there are so many! I’d love to go skydiving, to get in on that giant tomato fight in Spain, or try my hand at that water fight in Thailand. I’d love to visit Iceland where my mom’s from, and would adore a trip to Cambodia.
… so basically a heck of a lot of travel
jti. that’s amazing. I hope that list both simultaneously gets checked off, and grows longer in the years to come!
thanks so much for talking with us today. it’s going to be exciting to see how things progress for you at SKYN and personally. we’ll definitely have to circle back with you in the future!