Ashley Merrill, Founder of luxury sleepwear line Lunya, has proven that you can have your cake and eat it, too with pajamas and loungewear that is equal parts flattering, soft, and beautiful. This inimitable entrepreneur's journey led her to create sleepwear that was comfortable and chic. On top of loving her brand, we admire the overlap in her values as a business leader and mama.
Read ahead in our special #IAMABLE Q&A - hopefully while sporting a set of Lunya's delicious pima-cotton or washable silk!
Dana Rae: ABLE loves good, healthy self-care, and a beautiful night's rest is one of those starting places, so we're huge fans of Lunya. Your brand fills a gap in the sleepwear market - what was your path like to creating the business?
Ashley: The idea for my business practically hit me over the head a few years ago. One evening before bed I walked past a mirror and happened to glance at my outfit. I almost laughed out loud at what i was wearing - my husbands boxer briefs and an oversized Star Wars shirt. That realization sent me on a journey to finding sleepwear that would be both comfortable and beautiful. Getting my company off the ground was hard work. I spent the beginning working hard before me hoping to get things rolling before my pregnancy slowed me down. I called everyone I knew in the fashion industry and asked them all sorts of dumb questions. Lunya started in my home with employees sitting around my dining room table. Today Lunya is expanding and growing. We have our headquarters and showroom in Santa Monica and our team is growing fast to create an amazing product that will help women everywhere get their sleep together.
Dana Rae: What do you wish you had known about entrepreneurship before you started your business?
Ashley: Being an entrepreneur is not nearly as sexy as sometimes portrayed. It's a lot of sleepless nights (ironic I know) and agonizing decisions but, even in spite of all the chaos, I cherish this time.
Dana Rae: We are seeing so many terrific female business leaders taking center stage. Many of them also have children. Can you talk about what that interplay looks like for you? What advice can you give to others about creating a support system?
Ashley: My life is a pie graph and everything I do divides the graph and takes a little from everything else, so I try to prioritize and be intentional about what I spend time on. I used to overbook myself and say yes to everything. I've since learned that saying no is important in manifesting the life I want. "Doing it all" is bullshit and if you plan to work in a demanding career, 40 hours a week just isn't realistic. Even with help, I was under water with work, kids and home responsibilities at the beginning. Women are usually the primary caregiver, even when both parents work, and all this pressure for them to enter leadership positions needs to be balanced with realistic support from their partner. My advice is that you should be realistic about your finite amount of time and ensure that between family and help you can be successful at home and in the office.
Dana Rae: What values overlap in your approach to both business and parenting?
Ashley: As a mom and as a leader I tell my team that they can count on high devotion and high expectations from me. I do my best to clearly communicate goals and objectives and follow through.
Dana Rae: How are you fueling empowerment through Lunya?
Ashley: Lunya strives to make women's lives better through product, experience and example. Our product helps women feel more comfortable and confident in a period of their day that is generally overlooked. We hope to provide an experience with our events and content that provides value to the community. And as a women led company we want to be part of the statistical success cohort and a company that not only does well but is home to thriving growing employees and gives back to less privileged women and girls to help facilitate more upward mobility and opportunity for the next generation.
Dana Rae: As a busy founder and mama, how do you self-care?
Ashley: Exercise is my church. I workout almost every day, usually pilates at lunch.
Dana Rae: Lastly, what are you ABLE to do that makes you unique?
Ashley: I am determined. I have pushed through some incredible curveballs and can now confidently say my extreme commitment is one of the unique attributes that has made me successful.