Today’s amazing #ForteFemale is Ashley McDonnell, a marketing and media executive within the luxury industry. Ashley joined international luxury conglomerate PUIG in 2021 as Global Digital Media and E-Commerce Manager. Ashley was nominated as a candidate for the Forbes 30 Under 30 EMEA list in 2022 and was runner-up at the IMAGE Women in Business Awards this year. Passionate about education, Ashley funded a school for children in Cambodia, which has provided free English and IT classes to over 800 children since 2013. Most recently, Ashley has launched Tech Powered Luxury, a podcast dedicated to the unison of the luxury and technology industries, providing a platform to the brightest minds and leaders with guest speakers from Auroboros and Seabody to Chupi.
YOU WORK AS A GLOBAL DIGITAL MEDIA AND E-COMMERCE DIRECTOR AT PUIG WORKING WITH BEAUTY BRANDS SUCH AS BYREDO, CHARLOTTE TILBURY AND PENHALIGON’S - WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?
As Global Digital Media and E-Commerce Director for PUIG, I have a really varied role. PUIG is one of the world’s largest luxury groups and is home to incredible fashion and beauty brands, including Charlotte Tilbury, Penhaligon’s, Carolina Herrera, Paco Rabanne, Jean Paul Gaultier and many more. As my role is at group level, I’m lucky enough to work with many brands on a daily basis, developing our digital strategy. Digital can mean many things, and in my role specifically it covers influencer and content creator campaigns, paid digital media, e-commerce and e-retail, the China digital ecosystem and lastly, Web3.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY LAUNCHED A PODCAST - TECH POWERED LUXURY - WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO LAUNCH THIS AND WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO HEAR WHEN WE TUNE IN?
I have been working at the crossroads of luxury and technology for 10 years now - since my first internships in Paris when I was 19. At first, digital was viewed as something that compromised a luxury brand image, and the industry was very slow to realise that it’s often the first touchpoint with a customer, and in fact a brand-building, as well as community-creating opportunity. Today, brands simply couldn’t survive without a technology strategy and a digital-first mindset. Through these experiences, I began teaching at business and fashion institutes around the world, to help prepare the next generation of leaders within the industry. I realised that the pain-point of tech upskilling within luxury fashion and beauty exists not only with the younger generation, but most definitely within the industry. The podcast, Tech Powered Luxury, aims to close the knowledge gap for anyone interested in the luxury and tech industries, and is a free resource streaming on Spotify, Google, Amazon and Apple Podcasts. Since launching on November 1st, it has risen to a Top 10 Podcast within the Business and Fashion & Beauty categories in Europe and Asia.
HOW DID YOU SELECT THE GUESTS ON YOUR PODCAST AND WHO WAS YOUR FAVOURITE SPEAKER TO DATE?
I leaned into my own knowledge gaps and assessed what the biggest technological changes will be in the next months and years to map out the key topics I wanted to tackle, and then I sought out experts in those areas to share their own experiences. Episode 1 was with the founders of Auroboros, the first couture house of the metaverse. For anyone struggling to grasp the concept of digital fashion and how the metaverse is evolving, this is the episode for you!
WHAT DO YOU FIND EXCITING IN THE BEAUTY SPACE AT THE MOMENT?
I love that there is more representation and diversity within the beauty industry now than ever before. Consumers can find brands and products that not only provide performance, make them feel and look good, but that also align with their values.
WHAT’S YOUR BEAUTY ROUTINE?
My beauty routine starts with the Seabody Beauty supplement, which takes care of skin and hair health from the inside out, and drinking at least 2 litres of water a day. For my face, I cleanse daily with the Irene Forte Skincare Lavender Foam Cleanser, always start with a serum followed by the Irene Forte Lavender Face Cream and of course SPF. I am a makeup lover, so I wear makeup most days, which means I need to take extra care. For me, my hair routine is just as important as skin, and I use the Fable and Mane scalp serum for healthy roots, followed by a cleansing shampoo. I love trying new products, not just as a consumer but also as an industry insider; seeing the new innovations coming to market is always an interest of mine.
WHAT IS THE BEST BEAUTY ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
Always use a serum or oil before moisturising, and SPF as a final skincare step -no matter where you are or what the weather is!
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL MORNING LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Every morning I do a 10 minute meditation, get ready for the day ahead and use two journals; the Intelligent Change Gratitude Journal, and the Head Plan. That way I feel like I can conquer anything, and I have the perspective to remember that we’re all on a journey and the small challenges facing me today are quite insignificant in the greater picture.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE…
Book: The Cartiers by Francesca Cartier Brickell
Documentary: The True Cost
Podcast: Founded Beauty by Akash Mehta
Irene Forte Skincare Product: Lavender Face Cream
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