Founder/CEO of Lunya & Lahgo
As the founder of Lunya and Lahgo, Ashley Merrill and her team are reinventing sleepwear for the modern woman through innovation, design, and quality; resulting in a carefully edited collection of must-have pieces. Lunya’s core mission is simple - to make women’s lives better through product, experience and example.
№1 — What drives you and brings you joy on the day to day?
I get joy from the relationships and people around me. Professionally I love overcoming challenges with my incredible team - they are smart and creative folks that help me think bigger and better. My friends and family keep me living and enjoying life with humor.
№2 — What has helped you persevere through tough times?
I think overcoming challenges is a muscle that you need to flex to get strong. Lunya is constantly throwing me weird curveballs that require me to meet disappointment and challenge with a “can-do” optimism. It’s not easy but I think that some of these skills have been honed by my less professional pursuits. When I was young I was a competitive equestrian and that means dealing with the stress and disappointment of competition. I would have to pick myself up and push through even when I wanted to give up. I learned early on that the first rule of winning is not giving up. As an adult I really appreciate how working out continues to sharpen this mindset. Progress is made only through incrementally pushing myself and continuing to move forward even when I need to work around injuries. I have had to train my brain that obstacles are not impediments but challenges to overcome.
№3 — Tell us a little about your mentors and how you have gotten to where you are today.
Most of my mentorship has been informal, it could be a one time conversation with someone new to a more frequent touch point. I’m always trying to learn from and to give to those around me. Some of the more regular mentors are people who have cheered me on (thanks mom and dad, best girlfriends), people who have helped me course correct through very vivid business obstacles (eg. Carrie Kirkman and Nancy Richardson) to those folks who are always there to help me think through big picture challenges (my husband, Dylan Jadeja, etc). It’s taken a village!
№4 — Sustainability: how do you use your brand platform to promote sustainability.
Generally we are more focused on trying to do the right thing than promoting it to others. As a business we look at each product we have and try to think about how we might lessen its environmental impact because not all products have the same impact - for example with many of our natural fibers dyes are the most important area to focus on in, in pesticide heavy growing situations it’s about going organic and in other cases its about transitioning more and more fabrics into the natural fiber direction. It’s a very nuanced approach.
№5 — What advice do you have for female business owners looking to make a difference in the world?
I think starting with a “problem” is always the best place to start. What problem needs solving, what problem are you capable of solving, and which one also could have a viable business model? The same approach that has always worked for entrepreneurs applies here. It just requires a new filter to add which is asking whether this also makes a difference in the world.