We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Barton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business ReadHer is a subscription book box that brings those real Black love stories to readers; both avid and new. And we’re important because we’re providing a service to women that brings them joy and celebrates Black stories. Most importantly our social and community impact is bringing real Black stories to the world. One of the many challenging factors that the Black community experiences is invisibility. Yes, you see us in sports teams or entertainment artists, but what about in our everyday lives? How we live, love, and experience the world is often overlooked. Our stories are often told through the lens of struggle and hardships but rarely told through love. It’s important that all the ways in which we experience life is told; love included.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
ReadHer is basically any reader’s dream come true. It’s really the opportunity for me as a lover of books to bring more books to more readers. The business side of ReadHer started during the pandemic, where after looking at book boxes, I didn’t see one that spoke to me. So I decided to create my own! I’m a big fan of indie (independently published) Black romance. I love to see Black people come together and find love. But not in a cheesy way, in a real-life this is what happen when Black folks find love.
Creating ReadHer has not been easy all the time, but it has definitely been fulfilling. I started at first with the idea after not finding something like this already. Then I connected with fellow readers to get their idea on it. quizzed them to see what they liked, what they’d want and more. The next step was simply learning business. I’m an administrator in higher ed, but not a business owner. So I had to learn what it means to actually run a business. During that process (which is still in progress) I connected with Black indie romance authors to see if this was something that they would support. After getting the greenlight we went into production and design (which is the fun part). But the greatest part is that after going on sale, people bought it!! And some even purchased long-term subscriptions! Which has been incredible!!
The hardest parts have been with shipping! USPS caused me many stressful nights, as they had a major delay with delivering the books for our first box. But the customers were understanding and patient, and I really appreciated that. There have been many lessons learned through this first box, and most are related to being patient and learning to anticipate all the things that can go wrong so that I can be preemptive.
So now we just want to further our reach! We want more women to take care of themselves through our ReadHer boxes. We want for more Black love stories to be read and loved. We want to make women feel seen and appreciated. ReadHer does this for all of our readers. ReadHer proudly centers Black love and we proudly celebrate women. Join us!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If someone is new to SD, there are some spots/eateries that I always like to go to:
Swamis (Brunch is life)
Pacific/Mission Beach (cause its diego)
Balboa Park for exploration time
Gaslamp (turn up time!)
Old Town for Tacos!
Sunset Cliffs for the views
and Coronado for more beaches and sightseeing!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My goals, dreams, and aspirations would not be realized if it weren’t for my mother Caroll. She has not only raised and built me to go big, but she supports me in all the things I wish to do. When I have doubts, she cheers me on. When I need feedback, she gives it to me. And when I need a reality check, she’s honest. I couldn’t have done anything without her support.
These are my own photos, so the credits can be give to ReadHer @readherbookbox