Bringing Spirituality into Our Career
A new trend is taking over the world—bringing spirituality into our career and expressing it in all that we do. Bravo! Entrepreneurs around the world are exploring this wonderful topic: How to bring spirituality into their work. How to express it. How to align with it.
It was love at first sight between Naku and Newman. Naku is my pug, and Newman is the pug belonging to Ashley Wray and Matt Bateman of Mala Collective. We all live in the same building, and when I met Ashley and Matt, I discovered that this warm, gracious couple have found a way to live their work-lives with integrity and spirituality. Who better to interview for my blog?
Ashley and Matt’s story is inspiring. Both were well set in their careers in Chilliwack, Matt as a carpenter and Ashley as a journalist. As Ashley put it, “We could have had a wonderful future just as it was. We had it all, or so we thought. But something was missing, and that something was nagging at both of us.”
They quit their jobs, threw on backpacks, and left for a six-month tour of the world, places they had never explored before, ending in the Orient. “Matt had never left Canada,” said Ashley, “and here we were, taking this huge leap of faith and travelling the world.”
It was in Bali where they first saw the malas they now sell. They loved them and stocked up for family and friends. Ashley remembers with a smile how the entire trip was marked with a sign and synchronicity. On the plane from Bali, she met the designer of the malas, who saw her wearing one, and they struck up a conversation. The designer wanted to expand to North America, and Ashley and Matt wanted more from life. A match made in Heaven! Well, at least in the skies! Between the thinking and the questions about the future, and the trip coming to an end, Ashley heard a big voice saying “Screw it, let’s do it!” And they did.
Now living in downtown Vancouver since November 2012, Ashley and Matt have committed to the Mala Collective. In this interview, Ashley reflects on bringing spirituality into our career.
Monica: Ashley, what motivated you to leave the seemingly perfect life and jump into the unknown?
Ashley: We were busy, busy, busy doing and doing, and yet we didn’t feel we were getting anywhere. Something was missing and we didn’t know what. Now we have so much passion for what we do.
Monica: What would you recommend to entrepreneurs when they first start their business?
Ashley: For us, the first year has been about being clear on what we want to manifest. You create an open-ended big picture of what you want to achieve and then go higher than that. Matt and I are good at being specific. We are also good at reading the signs and organically following the possibilities that come our way.
Monica: Then, what would be your words of wisdom about reading signs and following possibilities?
Ashley: Matt and I are clear about the values we want to experience and the values we want our clients to experience. What’s amazing for us is our change of mentality and how we are able to project our intention to others. We are not selling just jewelry. With our mala, we are offering a medium of fulfillment through a symbolic object. We are honest. We explain to people who are skeptical that wearing a mala gives back to you what you put into it. For us, mala beads are a reminder to live a more conscious life. Personally, I like to think that wearing my intentions keeps me on target.
Monica: What do malas represent?
Ashley: Mala beads are made from rudraksha, a seed that grows inside a blueberry-like plant. Rudraksha are harvested in South East Asia. For centuries, they have been used in Buddhism and Hinduism as prayer beads, for keeping count while reciting, chanting or mentally repeating a mantra or the name of a deity. They embody peace.
Monica: What is different about Mala Collective?
Ashley: What we like about our malas are the gemstones interspersed among the beads—they open the beads to a wider audience. Gems are not only beautiful; they are believed to have different healing qualities. So, our malas embody peace while at the same time bringing healing qualities according to the gemstones we use for each of our styles. Each one of us charges the mala with our energy and intention. If you believe in your power of intention, the mala brings amazing results.
Monica: In this beautiful journey, what did you and Matt appreciate the most?
Ashley: Definitely, it was having the courage to leave a well-planned life to venture into the unknown. We trusted ourselves. We were hard workers, and we made an intentional choice. We knew we would rather bounce back from a mistake than wonder for the rest of our lives what it would have been like if we had done that.
Monica: How do you decide what steps to take next?
Ashley: We make business decisions based on our values. We assess the circumstances while listening to our gut. We ask how we can best reflect ourselves in our business. We know why we love the beads, and we let that essence come forth in all our business decisions.
Monica: What would you say has been the most important aspect of your business journey? What would you tell new entrepreneurs?
Ashley: Having a good foundation is very important. I didn’t know how strong my own foundation was. I had a good background in journalism and marketing, and that turned out to be more useful than I thought.
Monica: How do you stay grounded and connected to your inner wisdom? How do you stay current with marketing trends?
Ashley: I meditate through yoga. My best business ideas have come to me through hot yoga. I read a lot and stay informed. I surrender myself to people who inspire me. I acknowledge self-doubt and make myself do it anyway.
Monica: What was the most powerful question you asked yourself?
Ashley smiles with a smile that can take you through the universe. I surrender to her serenity and wisdom. Her authentic self is beautiful and genuine. Every word she says is spontaneous yet well used. I know that whatever that question was, it was the catalyst for her bigger life. I am curious.
Ashley: The most powerful question? It’s “What would I regret not doing?” This question brought us to the understanding that this opportunity had come for a reason. Matt and I are good at reading the signs. Motivated by this question, we decided to embark on this adventure, which had come to us in such a unique way.
This July, Ashley and Matt will return to Bali to get married. The celebration will take place in the home of the woman who produces their fair-trade jewelry for Mala Collective. Yes, the woman they met on the plane! I will pug-sit Newman for the month.
Ashley and I are starting a women’s entrepreneur club in the fall of 2013. Let me know if you want to join us.
What would you regret not doing?