"I had to peace out," she recalled. "It cost too much money."
So she came to Temple and focused on learning about the music industry as a BTMM (now known as MSP) major. She graduated in 2008, during the height of the recession. She waited tables while looking for the perfect job and made music on the side. And she started blogging.
"I met a lot of characters in the music industry," she said.
The Central High School graduate eventually found her way to The Recording Academy, where she now serves as the membership and project manager in the Philadelphia office. She runs events and generally serves as a liaison between the local chapter and the national office.
She stopped that original blog but in 2011, she launched Write.Laugh.Dream, which she has turned into her very personal brand. She writes about love, inspirations and other positive ideas. Over the past four years, she has developed a loyal following.
Blogging began as an exercise in developing her portfolio, having a place to show off her best writing. But there is greater potential there.
"I want to be paid to be me," she stated. "I want to be a leader of thought."
So, she has the blog and she is constantly on social media, interacting with her community.
You have to stay connected, she said, in order to be successful.
"If you want people to read your stories," said Ashley, "you have to brand yourself. Nobody is going to know about you unless you social media it."
Her blog led to her writing a book, with another in the pipeline. She holds events regularly and she has a new clothing line.
"It's really kind of the way of the world today," she said of her branding strategy.
• The difficulty with being a brand is that you have to stay on point. You can't stray or you could lose your audience. For instance, you can't rant on Twitter (unless that is your brand).
• "Be authentic," she said. That way, you are consistently you.
• On Twitter, she tries to be witty. Instagram is for visuals. And Facebook is a way to reach older people.
• She holds events that people pay to attend.
• You have to blend cyber interaction with physical connections. "Sometimes you have to have a real life to go back to the social media," she said.
• After she self-published her book, she sent copies to Oprah.
• Is there a television series in here? She's thinking about that ...
What stood out for you?