Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we talk to Ashley Breeding. Ashley is the Executive Editor at Delaware Today Magazine, an award-winning lifestyle magazine for the Delaware community.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I started out in my 20s as a community staff reporter for the Los Angeles Times, and learned quickly that I was more interested in writing about arts and culture than hard news. I became an entertainment reporter—covering music, film festivals, art exhibitions, that sort of thing—and realized I would have more creative flexibility working for a magazine, where I could also have a hand in photography and layout. I’ve now been with four different publishing companies, where I’ve worked on over 30 different titles that include custom magazines and books. I came to Delaware Today about a year and a half ago as the senior editor and became executive editor in May.
What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Ultimately, I’m always striving to become a better writer, to find a voice. I’ll reread something I wrote five years ago—or even several months ago—and cringe. It’s a constant work in progress. Sunny spaces, good coffee and the company of creative people also keep me motivated and engaged.
What topics are you most passionate about covering at the moment?
It depends on the day. Variety—experiencing new places, people, ideas—has always been the draw of this job. I don’t do well with routine or monotony. For this reason, I love travel writing, but it’s not something I’m doing as much now that I’m a mom and more settled. Having lived in an area of Southern California that was vulnerable to crises like drought and fires, climate change was and remains an important focus. In general, it’s my belief that as a publication that serves to influence people’s decision-making day to day, we have a responsibility to encourage more sustainable living. In a luxury lifestyle market, that means showing that you can enjoy the finer things in life while still supporting the environment and fair business practices. And where the two conflict, what’s more important?
Share a bit about your writing process. For example, do you have specific music or rituals you need in order to focus?
Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Dolly Parton, but that’s because I have a 4-year-old at home whose favorite song at the moment is “Jolene.” The days she’s at school, it’s mostly Dylan or The Lumineers. And nothing happens until after I’ve had an espresso. Sometimes two.
How have you adapted to the evolving COVID-19 regulations?
Our staff has been working remotely since March. I know this time has been incredibly difficult for a lot of people, especially parents, but I find I am more productive when I can make my own hours. Taking breaks during the day—whether it’s coffee with a friend or a hike with my daughter or just 15 minutes of sunshine—is essential to keeping my energy high. I don’t think we’re meant to sit inside four walls all day. That does not inspire creativity.
Share one piece of advice you have for an aspiring writer or editor.
Find a profession and pursue freelance writing until you’re firmly established in your career. That said, unbiased, hard-hitting journalism is more important than ever, especially at the community level, so I admire anyone who dedicates themselves to the cause.
What are your career goals for the future?
It’s difficult to predict where any of us will be, because the news and magazine businesses are changing every day. My goal is to stay ahead of the curve. Despite ups and downs, it’s an exciting time to be in this industry.
Who is a Boss Lady who inspires you and why?
Any boss lady who juggles a demanding job, family and the proverbial pressures of just being a woman, and does it with humility and respect for others, is a hero in my book.
Just for fun…
If I wasn’t a writer/editor, I’d be: A photographer.
East Coast or West Coast: That’s a tough one. They’re each magnificent in their own way.
Last book I read was: Am simultaneously reading Gloria Steinem’s “My Life on the Road” and Maggie Downs’ “Braver Than You Think.”
Favorite self-care technique: Massage, reiki, time in nature every day.
When I’m not working, I’m: Soaking up the joys of motherhood.