By Michelle Talsma Everson
Photo by Kimberly Carrillo
We’re in the middle of the “Great Resignation.” Multiple sources cite than between 40-50% of the American workforce—many of them working moms—are looking for better pay, a flexible schedule, and the ability to work from home when possible. One local business owner and entrepreneur who sought out those same things years before it was part of the cultural norm is Ashley Richards, owner and founder of E Squared Marketing, a boutique digital marketing agency. Not only did Ashley trailblaze and find a better work/life harmony for herself, but she has also spent the last few years empowering other women to do the same.
Breaking The Mold and Inspiring Others
“One of corporate America’s largest challenges that is also contributing to the Great Resignation is the lack of flexibility and accommodations for working mothers,” Ashley shares. “When I had my daughter seven years ago, I was faced with a difficult choice: Do I want to stay home with my daughter or go back into the office for my 8-5 job? It was frustrating, as my job was fully able to be remote [she worked in marketing] and flexibility for hours or shifts was not an option. It was those traditional office hours or I was not a good fit for the position anymore—so I resigned and started my own company.”
The path to founding her own agency started simply enough as Ashley began working as a freelance marketing consultant in 2015 after the birth of her daughter, Ellie. Her son, Eli, followed a year and a half later. “I felt like I had to make a choice between being a stay-at-home-mom or a working mom,” she says. “I felt strongly that I could do both.” So, she did.
As her consulting business took off, she brought in more help by hiring her friends that had marketing experience. These friends were stay-at-home-moms with incredible work ethics and equally impressive careers, which they had put on hold to raise their children. That’s when she knew that she was on to something. “Here is this pot of gold, this untapped resource. These smart moms who need flexibility but want to continue to thrive in their careers,” she says.
“Businesses are leaving incredible talent on the table by not offering accommodations for families,” she continues. “… Since leaving my corporate job, I have hired over 30 working moms and have given all of them the ability to work remote. They are happy, providing incredible content and executed marketing strategies for our clients while still being able to prioritize their families.”
As business continued to roll in, Ashley provided quality work and 100% remote opportunities to working moms and E Squared Marketing—named in honor of her two children—was born. At E Squared Marketing, Ashley and her team of 27 remote employees provide creative digital solutions and heightened value to small and medium-sized businesses. The boutique digital marketing agency offers a variety of needed services, including social media content creation and management, digital newsletter campaigns, influencer marketing, online ad management, branding, graphic design, website design, and more. They have worked with a variety of brands in a multitude of industries, including well-known names like Scottsdale Fashion Square, Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona, Cullum Homes, Arizona Cancer Foundation for Children, and many others. Her employees are not only fully remote, but she offers them the ability to work full or part time as well.
“We try to be as flexible as possible and, by employing moms, we give them the confidence they need to know that they can do both—they can have fulfilling careers and provide for their families without sacrificing many of the important aspects that are a part of family life,” she says.
Founding E Squared Marketing isn’t Ashley’s first time going off the beaten path to success. Fifteen years ago, she was working in commercial real estate helping to market and lease spaces across the nation. When the recession hit in 2009, she lost her job. Quick to pivot and find her next move, she accepted a position at the University of Phoenix so she could attend college tuition-free. Growing up with an alcoholic father and then losing her mom to cancer at age 13, she didn’t have a support system or safety net. “I worked full time and put myself through school,” she explains. She was able to graduate with her business marketing degree with zero debt.
Now, several years and a successful business later, Ashley has created her own support system to help her blend both her work and personal life successfully. “I don’t view success as a work/life balance, I view it more as a harmony,” she explains. “Having a supportive spouse is huge—my husband Brandon is my number one fan and rolls up his sleeves parenting just as much as I do. It takes support from family and friends. It truly takes a village.”
Quality Work with a Personal Mission
At E Squared Marketing, Ashley and her team do their best to find that ideal harmony between the personal and the professional. While everyone works remote, they meet for regular Zoom meetings and quarterly in-person team meetings to help stay connected and engaged.
“My mission it to help as many businesses as possible with their digital marketing needs while providing a business platform allowing working mothers the flexibility and professional opportunities they deserve,” Ashley says.
Now that her children are getting older, Ashley shares that she hopes her success shows them that moms can work hard to follow their dreams—so they can too.
When it comes to current and prospective clients, she notes that just because her team’s work style isn’t necessarily traditional doesn’t mean that their results are anything short of amazing. If anything, the work they provide clients is exceptional because they know how to think outside of the box.
“We [E Squared Marketing] offer a very customized approach to digital marketing strategy,” she explains. “We bring our clients’ customers an unforgettable online experience to grow their following, keep their business top of mind, and distinguish them from their competitors. We help our clients to humanize their brand; we are content strategists that keep the online conversations going about our clients.”
Looking toward the future, the Scottsdale North resident plans to continue to grow E Squared Marketing—providing opportunities and inspiration for her clients and fellow working moms. “There is a need for quality digital marketing services and a space for working moms to help fill that need,” Ashley says. “My goal—and honor—is to continue to merge those two together into a successful business.”
To learn more about E Squared Marketing, visit esquaredmarketing.com, call 623-205-3430 or email [email protected]. For social media tips and insights, follow E Squared Marketing on Instagram @esquaredmarketing and Facebook @ESquaredMarketingServices.
This content is sponsored by E Squared Marketing.