When I was a kid, I would always look forward to the time I made for creative writing. Whether it was in school or putting a story together at the kitchen table, I excelled at having the chance to write and story-tell.
In university, the essays I wrote were always longer than the word limit and I’ve always been better at expressing myself with pen and paper.
So, naturally, when I connected with Ashley Drellishak, the founder of Harness Magazine, an international online publication for superwomen to share their knowledge and experiences, I wanted to learn more about this newly launched hub for storytelling and embracing femininity.
Read A Quarter Young’s interview with Ashley about her passion for writing and her new venture as Harness’ head-honcho below:
- When did you realize that writing was your calling?
At a very young age, I realized that writing was something that really fed my soul. I think I had a diary from the moment I could write. A diary spun into sketching artwork and filling pages with my emotions, which pushed me to create short stories. I love it. It’s cathartic for me. It makes me believe that anything is possible. I just love everything about it.
- Ashley, like us here at A Quarter Young, you have a passion for storytelling and celebrate experiences. Tell us why!
I love celebrating people’s experiences because in turn that is celebrating them as a person. I believe women should be celebrated for their stories, their struggles, their hopes, their dreams and whatever is on their mind.
- Where are you located? Do you hope people from all over the world will contribute to Harness?
I am located in the beautiful city of Columbus, OH but lately my fiancé and I have been dreaming of a move to Denver, CO. I do hope that women all over the world contribute to Harness. Imagine all of the unique experiences we would hear about!
- When did you know you wanted to launch your very own magazine?
You know how you get a scratch you can’t itch? That is how Harness was. It was an idea I couldn’t shake. I was reading all of these blogs and magazines. The content was always the same. I kept thinking to myself is this what real women go through? Is this what they really think about? Is this what is important to them? I felt like I needed a place where I could hear what real women were thinking and feeling. I didn’t care what the content was. I just cared that it was an everyday woman – just like me – going through similar things. I couldn’t find it – so I created it.
- Where did the name Harness originate? Tell us about its significance.
Naming something is such a hard process. A name gives something power. It makes something real. I kept thinking about what the magazine was and what I wanted it to be. Harness just kind of stuck.
The definition of Harness is: Control or make use of, especially to produce energy
That is exactly what Harness is doing. We are making use of our collective stories and articles to produce positive energy for women worldwide.
- Are you a one-woman army? Or do you have others working with you on the magazine?
I am primarily a one woman army. However, I have been blessed with being accepted into a program through Ohio State University which gives students a chance to work with small business owners. I have several college students who help me manage social media and think of ways to spread the word about Harness.
- We love the magazine’s web design! Did you do this yourself? If yes, what was one of the lessons you learned? If not, who helped with the development?
I wish I was tech savvy enough to code my own website – I fear I am not. I hired an independent contractor off of http://www.guru.com/ and they brought my idea to life. I knew what I wanted the brand to be and I knew what I wanted it to look like. I lucked out by meeting some great people who helped me pull it all together. Building a website is a very stressful process. I think one of the lessons I learned is you have to be upfront about exactly what you want and make sure it is exactly what you are getting. There were things I may not have communicated well that were add on’s later. This will drive up cost. Also being familiar with the lingo is super helpful.
- You’ve recently launched the magazine and are encouraging article submissions – how can people contribute?
The magazine launched [in mid-October 2016] and we have had around 4,000 views. It is amazing. The only way Harness will work is if women decide to write. Since I don’t pay for content we rely totally on submissions of individuals. So please write write write or submit your artwork. We have a lot of photography that has been submitted recently and illustrations – it is beautiful.
- Harness will feature articles about travel, health, fitness, body, food, shopping, education, wine, etc. Are there a few topics you’re excited to have the community explore?
All topics get me really excited. I think primarily I am more excited about filling those topics. I have so many people with creative ideas that reach out. I just keep encouraging everyone to write on whatever they are passionate about.
- Harness is about celebrating femaleness and spreading awareness about what women and girls actually experience. This is fantastic! What are you looking forward to most about this new journey with Harness?
For me it has been amazing reading the stories so far that have been submitted. Some people have written for the first time or are showcasing their artwork for the first time. It is truly inspiring to have met these women. I am looking forward most to meeting and inspiring. I think it will do great things for women as a whole.
- The word “feminist” comes with a lot of stigma. What are you doing with Harness to break that?
It’s funny I think I have had this conversation at least three times in the last two weeks. Feminism is about female empowerment and supporting women’s rights. It is not about scrutinizing the male sex or male bashing. We should be proud to be feminists and not ashamed by the stigma the word now has. I don’t want to burn my bra and march on the state house. I just want a voice. I want to have the same rights that other people are afforded. I think we need to start bringing to light the goals in a positive way.
- Do you think this negative stigma associated with the word “feminist” can turn people off from using that important word in dialogue and on social media?
Absolutely – I think when people see the word “feminist” they assume a woman hates men. I think people shy away from it because of its past.
- Do you have a favorite feminist writer or group you idolize and continue to learn from? Who is it and why?
I don’t have a particular feminist writer or group I idolize. My favorite author is Alice Hoffman and while she does have a strong female lead in every book, her books are more about beauty and magic and seeing the unseen.
- Many writers often hear a lot of negative feedback before they find success, even if that success is just with one editor or publication. Do you have any advice that writers may find helpful when developing content and working with editors?
Not every person is going to be perfect at writing. You may never get it. It may never sound as good as you hope. I think it is important to pick a topic that means something to you. When all else fails passion can shine through in any piece.
- Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
If you want to learn more about us feel free to check out at www.harnessmagazine.com.