Meet Ashley Wagner After learning how to do her makeup using YouTube video tutorials and…
Meet Ashley Villa
Ashley Villa is a leading expert in talent management for digital content creators and many YouTube stars. Before her position as CEO of Rare Global, Ashley started off with gigs at a law firm where she felt that digital style stars were lacking legal and financial direction. She then paved her own career and has established her presence in the beauty industry. Get to know Ashley and learn what a typical day in her life looks like, what she looks for in new talent and her work with the Be Rare Foundation below!
- My name is: Ashley Villa
- My social handles are: @rareglobal | @theberarefoundation
- Find my website at: www.rare.global | www.theberarefoundation.com
1) Tell us a little about yourself. How did you build your career from lawyer to CEO in the beauty world?
I had been an attorney (first at Lionsgate, then at Sierra Affinity) for several years, when I found myself in a transitional period. Jenn Im, now my longtime client, reached out for help to find an attorney to help represent her on brand deals. At the time, the digital media space was very new and I couldn’t find anyone who specialized in brand and influencer contracts, so I ended up helping Jenn myself. At some point it hit me: this was a whole new niche and opportunity — the market was changing and brands would only work more with digital talent. Jenn became my first client and our relationship grew organically, leading me to manage her, then to make the leap from film to digital media. I gained great experience by working for StyleHaul, one of the first multi-channel networks that crafted the world of influencers you know now. After a year, I felt ready to venture out on my own — making that final leap to entrepreneur and business owner (something I had almost never thought I’d do.) In hindsight, it was a natural progression, but truly a surprise — scary and exciting. That was four years ago.
2) As the CEO of Rare Global, a female-owned and female-ran agency, who is a woman that inspires you and why?
Judge Ruth Ginsberg, Supreme Court Justice and historic advocate for Women’s Rights. Her entire life has been a testament to fighting for women’s equality and freedom (equal pay and anti-discrimination). She has pushed women forward. I love her quotes — one that resonates with me a lot is “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” The opportunity to decide who and how we want to be shapes not only our lives, but everything and everyone around us. And women will continue to fight for that.
3) When looking for new talent to manage, what are some qualities you look for?
The world of digital media is the Wild Wild West — slowly becoming more structured, but constantly changing. There’s a lot of opportunity, but it requires commitment, consistency, hard work and a great team to truly leverage content and digital influence into a career. When it comes to clients, I always consider if they’re really ready to take that next step, to take their job to the next level — commit themselves to their content and become a brand. I also look at their vision for who they want to be and what they want to achieve. At Rare Global, we value diversity, inclusivity and female-forward missions; we always want to help our clients realize a career path that aligns with that as well (whether it’s a gender inclusive clothing line or a makeup line made for all skin tones).
4) What does a typical day in your life look like?
A LOT of emails and LOT of phone calls. I start the day by reading up on interesting and important news or developments in the industry. I love The Business of Fashion and Tubefilter — very informative content on what’s happening today. Then I regroup with my team. Lunches are usually filled with meetings and calls about my clients: deals, projects and campaigns. Sometimes there will be evening events that I attend either with my client or the whole team. In the evenings, I’ll go over contracts until around 9 p.m. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to wind down with a book I listen to on Audible.
5) You are the co-founder of the Be Rare Foundation, a project dedicated to empowering the next generation of female entrepreneurs and creatives. What inspired you to create this movement?
When Rare Global started growing, I don’t know if I thought of myself as female entrepreneur… it was more like, “I’m on my own! I need more help!” I hired a female assistant. I signed more clients, also female. I’ve always worked closed with one of my best friends, Vannga Nguyen (who is a creative director and producer for Rare and our various client campaigns), who is also a female entrepreneur. Suddenly, I looked around and realized I was working with all women on a day-to-day basis. The sense of community, collaboration and dedication was just magic, an integral part of the Rare DNA… This year, Vannga and I co-founded The Be Rare Foundation as a way to continue to build and support the female community, in a tangible way: by facilitating opportunity. Funding projects and businesses run by women — in essence, helping females forward. In March, we threw our first annual women’s summit and networking event called A Rare Day, featuring inspirational talks and a career panel, to benefit the foundation. We were amazed and humbled to sell out the 300-person event and raised $10,000 for our “Female-Forward” Grant, which will be awarded in October. The entire experience and process was born from the passion that, if given the opportunity (and financial help), we can all achieve more together. We’re actually reviewing grant applications now; we’re very excited. And we’re looking forward to continuing to evolve our events, initiatives, and alignments!
6) How did your previous role at StyleHaul prepare you for your role today as CEO of Rare Global?
To be able to work as the in-house legal counsel for StyleHaul was an invaluable opportunity. It gave me crucial insider insight and specialized knowledge at a time when the broader marketing and management world was just figuring it out. That foundation allowed me to give Rare Global and my clients a severe competitive advantage from the jump. StyleHaul, a multi-channel network, is the pioneer network in normalizing brand and digital talent relations; it created the opportunity to monetize content and to build teams around digital media talent. Without platforms like StyleHaul, the world of influencers in beauty, fashion and lifestyle would not be what it is today.
7) Describe your perfect “Boss Babe” outfit.
Simple, chic silhouettes, complemented by a great purse and shoes. I’m a fan of power pants, minimal, tailored tops or dresses and a pop of Louboutin and Chanel!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Interested in learning more from professionals in the digital marketing and beauty industries? Check out the rest of our As Told By series.