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Pivot With Purpose S2

Pivot with Purpose with Meghan Houle Season 2 Ep 1

As founder of Lunya and Lahgo, Ashley Merrill is reinventing sleepwear for modern women and men, respectively. Both brands share a simple mission: to make people feel confidently comfortable — at home and within themselves. 

Beyond her sleepwear entrepreneurship, Ashley is Chairwoman of the Board at Outdoor Voices, a direct-to-consumer recreation label. She is also CEO and cofounder of The Deep, a media platform that makes philosophy and personal exploration accessible through thought-provoking questions and content.

As principal at impact investing firm NaHCO3, where she leverages her background in venture, technology, and the arts to invest in ways that create opportunity and move humanity forward. Both personally and professionally, she is an active supporter of organizations like Girls Inc., Upstream, and United Medical Corps.

She is a Southern California native and resides there with her husband and their two young children. 

Shop Luyna: https://www.lunya.co/

Find out more how you can change your conversations with The Deep: https://www.thedeep.life/products/the-deep-a-card-game

Click Here to Read Full Transcript

FC Podcasts: [00:00:00] Pivot with Purpose, a podcast that highlights the unique stories of
professionals that pivoted their careers to align with their work lives and personal lives,
more purposefully, and with more joy.
Pivot with Purpose is hosted by Meghan Houle, a globally accredited career and business
coach and creator of the Meghan Houle Method.
Meghan Houle: [00:00:33] Welcome back to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I’m your host,
Meghan Houle and in this episode, we talked to Ashley Merrill CEO, founder of the luxury
sleep and lounge wear brands, Lunya for women and Lahgo for men and co-founder of The
Deep.
FC Podcasts: [00:00:48] Thank you for listening to Pivot with Purpose with hosts, Meghan
Houle, you can find out more information about each guest, including full transcripts at
pivotwithpurposepodcast.com and if you’d like to share your own Pivot with Purpose, click
on the share button and add your story to the conversation.
Finally be sure to subscribe and share your comments wherever you listen to your favorite
podcast, your support amplifies our voice, and now this week’s episode.
Meghan Houle: [00:01:21] As founder of Lunya and Lahgo, Ashley Merrill is reinventing
sleepwear for modern women and men respectfully. Both brands share a simple mission to
make people feel confidently comfortable inside.
Ashley is also co-founder of The Deep, a media platform that makes philosophy and personal
exploration accessible through thought provoking questions and content and the
chairwoman of outdoor voices, both personally and professionally, she is an active supporter
of organizations like Sola, Upstream and United Medical Corps.
She is a Southern California native and resides there with her husband and our two young
children. Ashley Merrill welcome to the Pivot with Purpose podcast. I am so excited to have
you on thank you so much for joining us today.
Ashley Merrill: [00:02:09] Thank you for having me.
Meghan Houle: [00:02:10] No thank you, and then also THANK YOU for bringing Lunya to
life.
As I will have to tell you beyond all the amazing sleep where there was no way I was sleeping
, through the night, without my silk sleep wear mask.
Ashley Merrill: [00:02:25] Oh, I’m so glad!
Meghan Houle: [00:02:26] I love them all. I have four of them, everybody. I need all the
colors it’s called, like get some rest.
But whatever it takes to get us through the night, you know, it’s what it’s all about.

Ashley Merrill: [00:02:41] I feel ya. I feel ya.
Meghan Houle: [00:02:42] I can’t wait to dive into all of our exciting topics we have here,
but to start off the podcast, I’d love to ease into the conversation and learn something fun
about our guests. So tell me, what are you loving to do beyond work these days?
Ashley Merrill: [00:02:57] Oh my goodness. I mean, it’s been a weird world for the past year
so maybe some of the things that I love to do historically are a little off the table for me. I
love to work out. I’ve been doing that remote and that’s been great and I have been using
Sydney Cummings on YouTube. So it’s like free, easy to work out any time I need to so I’ve
been loving that. So I’m doing a woodworking with my dad and that’s awesome because he
is so handy and that’s the thing that I get to do with him you know, just having like a shared
memory and yeah, hopefully I’ll make some really cool things. We’ll see.
Meghan Houle: [00:03:29] All right. Well keep us posted.
We’ll be on the lookout for your Instagram for all your woodworking. That’s so amazing.
Well, leading into talking about your businesses and your passion projects, obviously at the
heart of this podcast is really talking about our pivots and careers.
Give us a few of your proudest career highlights to start off.
Ashley Merrill: [00:03:53] Sure. I have some moments that feel really positive. Like Beyonce
wore our silk set for her New Year’s Eve last year that feels really awesome cause you know,
hello is Beyonce and that was really, I think a big win and then there’s then business
moments, you know, we got profitable in 2021 the first time and I think that felt really good.
But I mean some of the really big moments are not those kind of obvious moments and that
they’re the more everyday moments where just watching the teams start to connect and
leaders start to step up and own their departments and actually watching Lunya gain
momentum outside of me has been really cool, you know, where early on a company’s very
small and everything’s very driven by maybe the founder at an early stage.
And I think that that’s been a real maturing process of watching Lunya start to have these
different leaders within it that have their own kind of vision that meets into my vision and
executing their own plans and all of that and that’s been really cool.
Meghan Houle: [00:04:57] Yeah I always say like putting your stamp on the business.
Beyond all that you’re doing.
That’s so great to hear. So tell me as we talk a little bit more about Lunya and Lahgo and kind
of jump into all of the things, where did your career start off and what led to this pivot of
becoming this female entrepreneurial powerhouse you are? You certainly are! So please
take that a hundred percent.
Ashley Merrill: [00:05:19] Well, thank you. Yeah, so I started my career actually. I mean, I
went to undergrad, I was an art history major. I thought I was going to be a lawyer. And
then I’ve started meeting with lawyers and learning what the job was and realizing, Ooh, I
don’t know that’s a perfect match for my personality.

And that left me coming out of college, being pretty unsure because here I’d had this plan
the whole way along of what I was going to do. And then I went to culinary school because I
thought maybe it’d be really neat to be in catering. I figured at worst it would be this really
great experience that would teach me a life skill and it was more the latter for me.
And then I went to a small venture capital company and it was a funny story. And I like to
say it sometimes because while I was in school, I applied for this role that they had, and I’m
not a perfect candidate. I wasn’t an econ major and you know, this kind of stuff taking sort
of a different path.
I worked for free for them after school for three months and said don’t worry about paying
me and this was before, so you were allowed to do that. And if at the end of three months,
I’m adding value, keep me, and if not, then don’t and that’s fine. And so that was kinda how I
got started in venture and they kept me in, I really enjoyed that.
And then I somehow felt like I was on the wrong side of the table at venture. It was really
great experience, but I kept thinking. You know, who am I to judge whether these businesses
are good or not. I don’t know anything yet, you know? And so I went and worked at an
online media company because this was around when, a lot of these websites were really
blowing up and I could bring my sort of M & A experience into this new forum.
And we were buying and selling websites and building web portals. And I got to learn a lot
at this company, I was there for maybe four and a half years. And It started in business
development and then ended up running an actual web portal called Momtastic, which I got
to create with a team and limited resources and got the opportunity to be an intrepreneur.
So we identified the problem and kind of built a plan to go after it and it was a very cool
experience. And so one of those things that I felt gave me a real chance to practice
entrepreneur, but have training wheels on while doing it. And so something I advise a lot of
people to do is one of those stretch projects, as they say, where I kind of started out being
like, well, if we can’t afford to buy something, maybe I could build something and really,
really great experience.
And then after that I wanted to be at a startup. I wanted to be somewhere I was really
passionate. So I had applied for business school and I got in and I decided to leave that
company while I was at school. Cause I figured I would probably either join somebody’s
startup at that point or start my own thing.
And I was really excited. There was a lot of engineers and folks that were at that school so I
was like, okay, cool. I can maybe partner with somebody who knows how to build things.
And I have this sort of marketing background and we can make that work. And then
somewhere in that I had had this moment in the mirror, which I kind of call it now, but
where I was looking at myself wearing my husband’s old sleepwear and was thinking, oh, I
probably should step this up a little bit, you know, just like it was it wasn’t so great.
Meghan Houle: [00:08:35] I feel you there!

Ashley Merrill: [00:08:36] You know, and I realized like this wasn’t a problem that just was
my problem with a lot of people talking to her, wearing all their old clothes around the
house, and there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with wearing old clothes. It’s just that
when you spend a lot of time there it starts to actually make you feel not good about
yourself, you know, and then it’s also not necessarily well-designed for sleeping. So it kind of
sent me on this journey of going well, could I wear something better? And I wasn’t thinking I
was going to build the company. I figured I would just buy something.
And so I went around looking and everything was very sexy lingerie or very traditional
pajama set, but wasn’t very comfortable or practical and it left me going, wow, there’s just
nobody doing this. And maybe there’s an opportunity here. And then I did what most people
do is I talk myself out of it for like a while, you know?
And I kept thinking, why would I do that? I’ve never made clothes before. What do I know
about this industry? I could find a lot of reasons why I wasn’t the right person. What I
couldn’t find though, was a reason why it was a bad idea. I mostly found reasons why I
wasn’t the right person for it.
And so what happened was I went into school, I kind of set that idea side. I started school. I
started school in September and around this time, my husband and I had decided we were
going to start our family. And I got pregnant end of September. And as soon as I got
pregnant, I realized this is a good idea, and I’m not doing it because I’m afraid.
But, it’d be way worse to tell my kids that I didn’t do something because I was afraid than it
would be to do it and fail. And so it just kind of changed the whole equation for me. And
then I decided to jump and I did it. So starting in October is when I really started working on
Lunya.
Meghan Houle: [00:10:16] I love it. So is that where the idea came from that led to your
desire? Was it like, okay, I need to, I need to step up my game and loungewear a brand. So
you have Lunya for women and Lahgo for men and did you see this sort of white space, like
you said, where it was just a lot more sleep sleepwear that was a little sexy and kind of like
occasion driven and to have something that is purposeful and that you can really wear out as
well. Right? Is that where the idea came from or any other thoughts or inspiration?
Ashley Merrill: [00:10:48] Yeah, I guess it felt like why would there be this distinction
between how I would show up in my, like, arguably my most important time of the day?
You know, it’s the time I spend with all the people that I love the most. Why would I have
this distinction on oh, well that’s the time to show up like I don’t care, you know? And then
when I go dress for other people, people I know less, well, then I’m going to pull it together.
You know, when you really look at it, it’s kind of funny where we place our emphasis and I
thought that’s such a reversal, a prioritization reversal.
It got me really going deep on that. Like, why am I willing to spend, you know, $250 on a
cocktail dress that I’m going to wear once or twice? And yet I won’t get myself some really
comfortable nicely made sleepwear that I can wear every single day. It’s the cost per wear
argument here.

And then also I’m going to feel like my best self. Everybody knows there’s a reason why you
wear a uniform for certain activities, it puts you in a state of mind. I think like people put on
a Jersey when they’re going to go play on a soccer team because they’re sort of setting aside
the individual and they’re buying into themselves as part of the team. The clothes you wear
can set the tone for how you show up.
And I feel like showing up with your old clothes that have like holes and hand me downs,
right. It’s just really not putting in the right headspace. And so that really got me going.
Meghan Houle: [00:12:13] Yeah, that’s exciting. Oh, I’m so guilty of having those pants with
the holes. My husband’s like, Hmm. Do you want to throw them out?
But I feel like you get so attached to these like old school, you know, Pink
from Victoria.
I like clean out my lounge for a drawer. Like throw them out. What if there’s a fire, Meghan?
Ashley Merrill: [00:12:31] It’s like the coming of age thing, getting rid of that. You’re like,
yes, I am that person. Yeah. I’m just like, I’m better than this. Oftentimes after I talk to
people about, you know, what got me started, they ended up sending me texts afterwards,
being like, I just went through my whole drawer. I think for people, they just forget about it.
I don’t think they’re consciously doing it. It’s just sort of like, who cares?
Or they’re saying, hey, I want to be comfortable. I’m like, but what if you could be
comfortable and feel like your best self and that’s really the win. And then by the way, it
started in this place and then, I proceeded to have two kids after that. And it only became
more true.
I started being on these women’s forums and realizing that, sometimes there’s such a
connection especially when people have kids too often you’re spending a lot of time at
home when you have a new child and like kind of bumming around the house, so to speak
and, it does a number on your confidence, you know, maybe your body’s not quite in the
spot that it was before and you’re not sleeping very well at all and the thing that would
make me the most crazy is when some ill-fitting pajama would wake me up because I wasn’t
getting a lot of sleep. And so then when I would wake up for a ridiculous reason, like, oh, my
spaghetti strap is falled off and I got all twisted up.
And then I was like, wow, joggers are cutting
off your ankle
in your calf. That happens. That makes it a cap problem. Crazy. So it’s like, to me, I was like,
there’s just no excuse for that. You know, I will not take that chance. So anyway, it’s kind of
started in one place and then I realized how much bigger it is.
It’s connected to sort of a lot of about how we see ourselves and how we spend our time,
that we’re not being like productive and I’m sort of air quoting right now. We working really
hard. What are we doing it for? We’re doing it for these moments.

And then we’re showing up with, the shirts with the holes in it and all this kind of stuff. So
it’s kinda like interesting when you start to really analyze that. I think you realize, wow, this
is probably of all the places that I should be really caring. This is the one.
Meghan Houle: [00:14:28] I love you have something for everybody, from the trousers to
the sets, to the jumpsuits, which I’m obsessed with. I’m totally jumpsuits set girl and I feel
like your product it’s so easy to take care of. Which is really, really nice.
Ashley Merrill: [00:14:43] It was definitely part of the philosophy and like, I’m not trying to
add it to do. Many of us can relate to the feeling of just having tons of to-dos, you know, and
I kept thinking, I love silk. It’s a thermoregulating fabric. It’s a fabulous fabric, but silk that
your dry cleaning for sleep. Not right. Yeah.
Meghan Houle: [00:15:02] You know what it reminds me of, I don’t know if you watched The
Office, but I love The Office and Michael Scott, where he would dry, clean his jeans and put
them on and he was like a new Michael Scott.
So it’s like, you got your Lunya Lahgo for men. You put on the sleepwear you feel amazing.
You can wash it. I mean, win-win.
Ashley Merrill: [00:15:19] That’s the idea and I think it’s cool you’re saying there’s something
for everyone. It took us a while. When we launched initially I had 10 pieces and then over
time, and this is the beauty of, you know, as the company matures and you get really great
feedback from customers.
We learned a lot about what people want from us and realized, oh, wow, there’s like, desire
for intimates because a lot of people want to sleep in intimates and what they want out of
their intimates for lounging and sleeping is different than what they want or their intimates
for the day.
Lot of our product offering is an evolved product offering. It’s really come from a lot of
feedback and iteration.
Meghan Houle: [00:15:54] Well in the spirit of this podcast, I love to have a little teaser and
then we go to a quick break. So I’m going to give you a yes or no question, and then we’ll
take a little break and come back.
So yes or no. Do you remember the exact moment when you decided you wanted to build
your own business?
Ashley Merrill: [00:16:09] Yes.
Meghan Houle: [00:16:10] And with that, we will be going to a break and pick us up when
we get back.
So Ashley before the break, you said, yes. What advice would you give someone who may be
looking to build their own business or bring an idea to life and not know where to start?

Ashley Merrill: [00:16:39] I would say, reach out to people, be vulnerable about your
dreams and it’s amazing how much people will kind of lean in and help.
I mean, for me, a lot of it was once I convinced myself that I had something here that I had a
good idea. It, gave me the sort of fire and motivation to share that with other people and I
would reach out to people and say, I have this vision for creating a sleepwear company that
is really making end to end the very best product for somebody in that means I want
functional fabrics. Really, really great construction, all these things that do you know,
anyone in the industry? And it was amazing how helpful people were and sometimes the
person they’d connect with, maybe wasn’t the perfect person, but often that person might
connect me from there to someone else. And so I think just vocalizing it, putting it out there
and be really a sponge.
Meghan Houle: [00:17:31] I love that. Wow. I mean, that is the heart of the podcast. We
talked so much in previous episodes really about, what is on your mind? What is in your
heart, leveraging your network, asking people, for conversations, being fearless, not being
afraid because you never know where they can lead and genuinely people want to help out
if they can.
So thank you for sharing that. And tell us a little bit more cause as another passion project
that you have, I was kind of diving into and researching before jumping on the podcast with
you, let’s talk about The Deep and your thoughts behind building this conversation
community and really how it’s changing the way people are communicating with each other.
So what is The Deep all about?
Ashley Merrill: [00:18:12] Yeah, so I think been very concerned about the direction that I’m
seeing society go. I think that we’ve become so polarized and in a bubble in so many ways
that it’s really changed the dynamics, which we converse, we unfollow people who see the
world differently than us. A lot of topics are off limits, in social circles and in a way they
didn’t use to be, we used to be okay with discussing things and just, having different points
of view and that didn’t feel like such a personal attack.
And I think that one of the things that’s concerned me in, particularly through the last couple
of elections and, and whatnot is just the vitriol that I see kind of being spilled on both sides.
To be honest, I don’t think anybody’s innocent here. And I’m going to give you an example.
And this is really one of the reasons that I started The Deep is I had a conversation with a
friend of mine, we were talking about abortion and abortion is a conversation that
everybody has an opinion on. They know where they stand on abortion. And it can be one of
those things that also really alienate people if you see it differently. And I was chatting with
him about it. I live in a pretty blue state, so I just assumed that that he was pro choice cause
I’m surrounded by a lot of people. And what he did was asked me a question. He said, well,
when does life begin?
And I thought, wow, that’s a really interesting question and it gets us away from the
abortion topic. And I thought I may not change my opinion and he may not change his
opinion, but we had a really deep, really interesting conversation about when life begins.

And I thought, how cool, I just spent 25 minutes chatting with somebody who has a different
point of view than me.
And maybe I didn’t change my opinion because maybe it can do the same conclusion, but my
outlook is different. And I don’t think he’s a jerk for seeing it differently. I understand his
point of view. And again, I can disagree with him or see it differently and then not villainize
him. And I thought, wow, this is such an unlock.
And I realized that about a lot of topics, a lot of things are more gray then you initially think,
you know, because a lot of the media they’re paid for clicks right now. So they’re building
these sensationalist headlines, which enrage people or spur, agreeing with people.
And it’s actually like stirring the pot of anger. And so I thought, we gotta teach people and I
look at my kids too, by the way and I’m like, I want my kids to be able to talk with all kinds of
people. And we talk about celebrating diversity and I’m like, diversity is about showing up
with an open mind is about not villainizing someone without like hearing them out, you
know?
And there’s a lot of things here that I think in some ways we say the words, but are we
really practicing it? The Deep came about because I just realized the power of questions
and in sparking curiosity and building bridges. I realized that a lot of people were sort of
thirsty for this
opportunity and my co-founder is an incredible human and has done a great job, kind of
really bringing it to life. And now there’s, you know, a lot of people that are sort of involved
in it and it’s amazing to see how passionate, I think people are about it because I do feel a lot
of people feel very silenced or that they’re in a bubble and they’re looking for ways.
And so that’s really what the foundation ofThe Deep is, and it shows up on Instagram so
people can check it out if you want to see how it works. And it also is a card game, so you
can get it and do it at home with friends and family.
Meghan Houle: [00:21:41] I saw that. Yeah. We’ll definitely link it in all of our show notes so
everyone can check it out.
And it’s so true, right. With 2020, isolating us all and maybe you’ve only been staring at your
husband and kids last year and a half, where it’s so easy these days to hide behind a phone
and internet and like blast people. It just gives you this anxiety in your heart and soul and
some people just holding their voices back because they don’t want to get into it. And you’re
right like going around family members. You’re like, I can’t talk about that. We can’t talk
about that. You know, how about having a productive conversation? I love that. Well, in the
spirit of asking you questions, real questions we’re going to jump into a topic where I know
you and I, when we first connected our so excited to talk about hiring and interviewing. And
as a CEO, I can imagine you’ve hired many people in your tenured career. So for listeners
looking for career pivots, we want to hear your firsthand advice of how to handle interviews,
job transitions, all the things. So to start off, what would you tell someone they need to
prepare for, to make a lasting positive impression during the interview process?

Ashley Merrill: [00:22:46] Sure. Well, I think You know, one of the things I like to think about
is you’re actually preparing for your next job in whatever your current job is. And so what I
mean by that is from the very first job you have, you’re building a reputation in a market.
You’re building peers and potential advocates for you.
And I think ask yourself, what they would say about you because you have to assume if
you’re in a small industry, that there’s a very high probability that through a friend of a
friend, you know, or something, they might actually end up becoming the advocates for you.
And so one of the things I think about is the job you’re in today is absolutely the stepping
stone to the next one. And sometimes when we get really sick of our job or tired of our boss,
or whatever insert emotion there it’s easy to kind of start to check out and get irritated and
not be our best selves. I would remind everybody that how you show up, particularly at the
end ends up being very career defining for you. So I would say, try to show up as your best
self, be the kind of person that other people really will advocate for, and then leave
gracefully, make sure that you’ve set them up with documentation of all the things you do. I
would say wow
people with your exit. And that sounds funny, but it’s amazing how many people are
incredible, their whole tenure and then, they’re on their way out and they’re checked out
and if you’re going to have two to four weeks of exit, it’s worth it to really be incredible.
So that would be my first, my first advice is really leave on a good note. And then I would say
the next one is when you’re applying to another job, make sure you really research the
company. Some people like to spray out a thousand applications, I am not a fan of that. If
you send me an application that doesn’t have a cover letter and
beyond that it feels like a templated cover letter. I probably won’t even read your resume. If
you’re not going to take the time to really understand the company and the position then
I’m not going to take the time to read your resume. Value the time of the people that you’re
going to, and also think of it from a marketing standpoint.
This is your chance to market, to them, really understand what the position is and help
connect the dots for whoever’s going to be reading this application for why you are a good
fit for the job. Especially if you have previous experience, that’s not a perfect tee up. So
really thinking about, what is it about me or the skills in my last one that might not even be
immediately obvious that I think are gonna really make me great at this job.
So I do think there’s a lot of opportunity there and how you paint that picture. In many
cases you may even find yourself rewriting your resume to make your experience feel more
relevant. So I’d say all of those things are really helpful to getting you in the mix. And then
once you kind of get your foot in the door I think showing up
really understanding the position bringing a positive attitude. I think another thing that
matters a lot that doesn’t get talked about that much is we’re thinking a lot about team
dynamics. So are you going to be a force for good or a force for negativity on the team? You
know, and sometimes it’s hard because it’s almost like dating where you might come out of
your last relationship and you’re kind of bitter, you know what I mean?

Don’t bring that. If you can’t show up positive, don’t even, you’re not ready to interview yet.
Don’t date until you can have a good state of mind and be open and optimistic again. But
I’m always very sensitive to people that feel like they’re showing up with negativity. And
conversely people that feel like they’re bringing it and they’re going to be such a great
beacon of positivity and optimism
and those are people that I would get really excited about. So I think the attitude is really
important, especially if you’re junior actually, because in that case, you may not have all the
skillsets that you need and you’re kind of coming to learn.
And so I’m looking at you as well kind of a blank canvas am I getting, am I getting a blank
canvas of someone who’s can do and positive? Or am I getting someone who’s already a
little embittered and kind of grumpy and is going to view problems as a problem instead of
as an opportunity to improve. Those are some of the hopefully less obvious tidbits, but
those would be key ones for me.
Meghan Houle: [00:26:51] And it’s all of those workplace cultures and I say this all the time,
interviewing candidates and like getting people through offers and everything is please do
not let the sins of your past like ruin your future.
Ashley Merrill: [00:27:03] Totally. And if you’re in a leadership, totally. If you’re in a
leadership position, talk about your team. I mean, this should feel obvious to you, but if
you’re a leader and you’re coming in, you’re saying I did this, I did that. I did that. I’m going,
that’s not a leader. That’s not someone that people are going to be excited to work for.
That’s going to be someone who’s taking credit and who’s self-oriented and I think that’s
another one especially for people in leadership.
Meghan Houle: [00:27:29] All really good points and do you think it is the responsibility of
brands to sell themselves when interviewing candidates and then on the other side, how
important is it for a candidate to sell themselves? And which one do you think needs to
come first? Or do you feel like it’s a balance on both sides?
Ashley Merrill: [00:27:46] Yeah, I think it’s a balance in the end, but I would say that
theoretically, if I’m creating an aspirational enough brand in whatever my brand positioning
target is that will be attractive enough that I’m hopefully getting people that are excited and
feel the desire to sell themselves to me because they feel excited about what we’ve created.
So generally people that I find do well in interviews are people that are familiar with the
brand and they’re excited and they clearly want to be at the company. So I’d say that’s a
helpful starting place, but if they’re awesome and especially the more experienced they are,
I think the more it puts me in a role of a pitching.
As a leader, one of the things that’s tricky though, is you want to pitch and you want to sell,
but you want to be honest, you don’t want to create an overly glamorous picture because at
the end of the day, if everything was perfect, I wouldn’t be hiring this person.

I’m hiring somebody to come into it, to help me improve things. Yeah to make thngs better.
So I think it’s important to be optimistic in the sense of here’s the vision. Here’s why it’s
exciting. But then honest about like, here are the gaps we have and here’s the things I’m
really looking for from you.
And so I’ve had examples in the past where maybe people if they’re believing that it’s too
rosy, they come in and they’re like, oh, there’s all these problems to fix. Yeah. So I think early
on, I was like, yeah, don’t oversell you. I want to be honest. I want you to know what you’re
signing up for.
And I’m not saying I’m not going to give you the pitch, like for sure. I’m giving you the pitch. I
want you to believe, I want you to be excited about where we’re headed, also just eyes
wide open, you know!
Meghan Houle: [00:29:21] Well, and not to get down a rabbit hole too far, but I have to talk
about this I’m not sure if you’re experiencing it, but there’s some serious ghosting culture
going on out there. And not like from a dating point of view, because this is a career podcast
people, but in general, like let’s not ghost anybody, but really experiencing this on the hiring
side where scenario wise, you have a candidate that looks interested that you’ve been
speaking with that falls out of touch and just completely disappears from the process. And
then also on the brand side, you know, what’s happening for candidates as well, where like
the candidate interviews, some of them do presentations and then they never get any
feedback or hear of next steps. I would love to hear how you make sure your teams follow
up after an interview to give some closure.
And why do you think that ghosting culture is happening more so than ever? Are people too
busy? There are too many options, no accountability. Like what are your thoughts?
Ashley Merrill: [00:30:14] So I think it’s an interesting thing that you highlight here. I
haven’t had a ton of it on the interviewing side. I’ve had some of it but not a ton. And I think
it’s one of those things where whenever it happens, we kind of know what that is. If
someone’s not being responsive via email, we know they’re either entertaining other offers
or somehow we’re moving down the list in some way.
So if that happens, we read it instantly as something’s off here. On the company side, I will
tell you, I don’t usually follow up with people. If I just have an entry call, I don’t usually do a
follow up to let them know when the position was filled or any of that. So usually the
process for me, looks like an intro call could be like a 15 or 30 minute call.
It’s a very short, let me just see if you’re even remotely the right person for this. And then if
that goes well, there’s a follow on call which would be, maybe more rounds and you would
meet with potentially broader set of the team. And generally if someone’s been far down
the interview process, they’ve met with a lot of people.
I’ll let them know, hey, we ended up filling it with somebody else. But if I just had an intro
call with them, I don’t usually, and the reason I don’t is if I’m just like really being honest
here, I have a small company and I don’t have like a dedicated HR person we’re hiring so
much that it’s just hard to keep track of all of those things. In some cases, if they haven’t

been deep in the interview process, I generally don’t and if they are interested, oftentimes
people will follow back up and say, hey, what happened, and we’ll let them know of course,
but I would say that’s fairly normal especially at a small company.
Meghan Houle: [00:31:48] And I think going back to what you’ve talked about before of just
candidates really being able to articulate why they’re reaching out, why they want to do
this. Before you really start the interview process, make sure you’re motivated by the right
reason. I think it really helps.
There’s a lot of PTSD that comes with switching jobs right now. People are scared and
uncertain and you know, they get deep into the process and they’re like, okay, well this is
happening. And then that gets scared and back out it’s like, get really clear on why you’re
starting this. It’s a serious thing I’m sure if you get excited about hiring somebody, and then
they fall off the face of the earth, it’s a lot of time spent and wasted, so, let’s everybody, get
real clear on our why and just make sure you’re in a good spot, as you start to interview and
wrapping up here, on top of being a powerhouse, female entrepreneur, you are mom, as
you were saying, and there’s a lot of moms out there. A lot of moms out there looking for
job pivots, maybe new moms, existing moms. That are feeling Ashley that because they have
kids, maybe they are less marketable to a company.
I know there’s a big conversation out there with all the women who have left the workplace
in 2020. So what advice would you give to a mom looking to pivot and feeling like they’re not
getting noticed or there’s a stigma behind that. Coming from some expert advice, with two
young kids of your own.
Ashley Merrill: [00:33:03] Yeah, I see that, I see that challenge I’ve been watching Younger.
Have any of you watched Younger?
Meghan Houle: [00:33:08] I need to get into that, but I hear it’s really good.
Ashley Merrill: [00:33:11] It’s so good. It’s about that, right? It’s this 40 year old woman
who is getting back into the workplace after 15 years of hiatus raising children and it does
highlight that. It’s funny, we talk about gender equality and we focus so much on the
employers. You know, they should hire more women or insert anything here. But I would
say, specifically around this gender thing, I think kids are the big, they’re the big divide.
When I talked to my closest friends about it, a lot of the conversation I have is when it
comes time for them kicking around staying home and staying with kids I usually say maybe
you can consult, try to keep a foot in. And even if the money’s not great, but just so that
your resume’s warm and honestly, it’s not just about your resume, your skills. If you think
about if you got a career in marketing and then you step out for five years.
Well, you know, think of all the things Tik Tok happened and Instagram happened and the
world changes. And so I don’t have an answer here. I really just see the problem. And I
think coming out of COVID you had a lot of women that had to step out to take care of kids.
And I think this is going to be a bigger problem than ever before, but you’ve got to think
about this very early on. And I remember having these conversations with my husband.
About, I’m going to work the whole time we have kids. So that was an early on conversation.

So I need you to be an equal parent with me. Is that something you’re on board with? I
mean, I remember us having those conversations before we got married and he said, yes,
and we’ve been working that out, you know, trying to make this all work. And, I have a
nanny, there was no way when my kids were young, that I could make that work.
It makes me have an unfair advantage in that I can afford this nanny and I can make that
work. And I know not a lot of people are in that situation and I don’t have a great answer to
it. I think it’s actually one of the things, if we want to solve the equality gap, it’s not just a
pay gap.
It’s sort of really connects to this, this childbearing thing. There’s a great documentary on
Netflix about the wage gap and it really women and men will make about the same until
they have kids. And then there’s a massive change. And a lot of that is because, there’s this
whole new workload that is being absorbed by the women.
And I share the childhood duties with my husband, but the house I run the household. And
so that puts a lot of extra work on me. So I empathize with it, but I don’t have a solution for
it. But I think if a career matters to you, I highly suggest finding ways to keep a toe in the
water as best as possible.
And then, if you’re looking to pivot or to change I think you’re going to have to be really
willing to kind of start over, you know, sometimes I’ll meet people and it’s like, they’re used
to making, whatever it is, X, Y, and Z, and then they want to shift careers and they’re not
prepared for what that number looks like.
You know what I mean? And it’s different because I can’t pay you based on the skillsets that
you’ve spent your career getting, because now you’re wanting to shift and you don’t have
those skillsets. So I think it’s just tough. I don’t have an answer for that at all. I do value
older employees because they bring in parents in particular, I don’t know, there’s, there’s a
lot of similarities between managing people and managing children.
Meghan Houle: [00:36:14] You know, the CEO is at home. Like they put you in your place,
right?
Ashley Merrill: [00:36:19] Like I find them to be a little more realistic, they’re not coming in,
like where’s my summer break? They’re mature adults emotionally too and I think they’re
good at working with other people and being clear and organized. And there’s a lot of things
that I think being a parent does help build your skill sets in, but it is just, that’s tough one. I
don’t have the answers.
Meghan Houle: [00:36:37] Well, you, definitely highlighted some key things, which is, keep
your foot in the door if you can. I think now with a lot of jobs being flexible, work from
home. I mean, that’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think it would give some flexibility,
trying to learn new skills, maybe bringing a passion project to life and even leveraging that
network, like keep up, the conversations and contacts with people that maybe can help you
and support you with all those things.

So really great points there. And I appreciate you sharing. In closing, any fun things in
store for you and your various projects in the future. I know Lunya Lahgo. I mean, you guys
have an amazing collection, which before we started this podcast, I was yelling at Ashley
cause my favorite thing was sold out.
I would like to talk to the manager, please.
Ashley Merrill: [00:37:21] You got to all of our capsules when they come out, we buy small
so that they sell out and they do. I always get those texts from my friend. Wait, I missed the
window. So yeah, we’ve got our linen silk resort collection will launch in the near future.
We’ve got a bunch of cool things coming out for summer. We’re going to maybe get into
some flannel which we’ve never done for holiday. Lots of really new fabric collections and
cool stuff coming in that regard.
Meghan Houle: [00:37:46] I love it.
Ashley Merrill: [00:37:47] Yeah. So definitely follow along and check it out.
Meghan Houle: [00:37:50] Yeah and with that note, how can listeners find you and engage
with you?
Ashley Merrill: [00:37:55] So I’m on Instagram at Ashley with a double underscore Merrill, M
E R R I L L. And if you want to follow on Lunya at L U N Y A on Instagram or online Lunya.co
Lahgo is L a H G O on Instagram and Lahgo.co online and the deep.life is the email.
And it’s the Instagram handle. Highly recommend checking out the Instagram there and
getting in the questions. It’ll probably blow your mind. Cause we usually go into some pretty
fun rabbit holes and I’d say that’s the best way to follow along. Perfect.
And we will link everything and Ashley, you know, thank you so much for sharing your pivot
story, you know, long with some of your valuable career in business building and interview
insight.
And we really look forward to keeping an eye on all you’re doing and please everyone check
out Lunya Lahgo for the best sleepwear loungwear offering looking good feeling good from
home and as we’re getting out and living our lives again. Amen.
Seriously!
Meghan Houle: [00:38:56] Thanks so much for being here, stay tuned for more stories
coming.
Yes. Can’t wait to keep shopping with
you.

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