Platforming mental health and wellbeing, Instant Influencer‘s Ashley Strong is paving the way for a new and improved beauty industry.
Known as Strashme on social media, Ashley Strong catapulted to internet stardom after competing in YouTube Originals’ beauty competition show Instant Influencer last year. Crowned the winner of its first season, the makeup artist has taken her newfound influence in her stride— showcasing her fierce skills while using her platform to advocate for mental health awareness.
Centennial Beauty had the chance to chat with Ashley about her Instant Influencer win, her latest collaboration with Morphe, and how she merges her love of makeup with her passion for mindfulness.
Despite her social media success, Ashley’s journey hasn’t always been an easy one. In her audition video for ‘Instant Influencer,’ she explained how she fell in love with art at a young age— as one of six children, art became one of the only ways to get her mother’s attention growing up.
For Ashley, art slowly became something more. Not only did it blossom into a talent for makeup, but it became a way for Ashley to bring herself inner peace. “I taught myself makeup later on in life but sketching is where I started,” she tells us. “My father taught me how hyper-focusing on something creates calmness in your surroundings and, I’ve been hooked ever since pencil and pad.”
The Alaskan-native started her journey in the beauty industry as a M.A.C makeup artist. After moving up the company ranks and engaging with clients, Ashley explains, “A lot of people had no perception of what was real versus fake in the beauty industry.” Working in a world where photoshop and plastic surgery is the norm, Ashley decided to dive into social media with hopes of challenging these beauty standards.
She grew a following quickly, making a splash on Instagram and YouTube for her bold graphic eyeliner looks and perfectly sculpted brows. When creating her makeup looks, Ashley makes a point of staying zen and completely immersing herself in the experience.
On her creative process, she says, “The easiest thing to do is breathe in, clear my mind and internal environment of criticism, fear, and expectations, and let the ideas flow. Whatever happens, happens from that point.”
Winning Instant Influencer in 2020 came with a world of opportunity. Over the past year, Ashley’s Instagram followers skyrocketed, reaching 680K (and counting). The beauty creator has also had the chance to work alongside some of the industry’s most iconic makeup artists, namely Mario Dedivanonic.
Nevertheless, the world of internet stardom has compromised the influencer’s mental health. “My perfectionism was exposed to millions of people and maintaining vulnerability as an artist is hard enough as it is,” she tells us. “However, I have discovered secret reservoirs of strength and energy I didn’t even know I had. They’ve allowed me to take all the opportunities that came and use them to advance my career.”
Ashley’s newest project, a collaboration with Morphe, is her most exciting yet. The Morphe x Ashley Strong collection consists of the Affirmation Magic Artistry Palette, Alignment Cake Liner Palette, and two neutral-toned lip kits.
On working with Morphe, she says, “They let me create everything…It’s an honour as an artist for a huge brand to trust your creative vision. I poured my energy into every single detail of my collection and I couldn’t be more fulfilled with the outcome.”
The collection is incredibly personal and offers insight into the influencer’s mental health journey. Each eyeshadow is named after an affirmation— a strategy that has helped Ashley through challenging times. Speaking to the collection’s focus on mindfulness, she says, “When we are centered, grounded, and clear internally, the magnetism we create manifests itself all around us in things like epiphanies or random blessings. It’s like magic.”
The crossover of makeup and mindfulness is a breath of fresh air for the beauty industry. The Morphe x Ashley Strong collection sends an important message; that makeup should not only be for beauty but also for self-care.
On her future plans, Ashley remains tight-lipped, “I want to change the landscape of the online beauty community and how I’m going to do it is a secret,” she says. We can’t wait to see what Ashley has in store.
Shop the Morphe x Ashley Strong collection here.