“Hey y’all, I’m Ashley, better known as Multifacetedacg.” I remember the first time I used this line to introduce myself on a public scale. It was August 10, 2014, over two years since I began creating content on YouTube, and I was seconds away from moderating my first panel for KCON USA, an annual Hallyu Wave convention. I had years of experience under my belt with public speaking thanks to my love for the performing arts, but this didn’t strike the same nerves as executing dance choreography or reciting lines for a play. I was making my debut as a special guest for a convention that focuses on my hobby, which is now growing into a global company and brand. There was no way to know then that my career path would go in its current direction. There was no way to understand how it could inspire others. Honestly, had I known then what I know now, I would have found someone to more intimately help with the part I knew little about: myself. Allow me to explain.
I’ve been an entrepreneur, albeit apprehensively at times, for 18 years. I’ve sold snacks out of my high school locker and backpack. I’ve assisted college classmates with résumé revisions and typing essays. I’ve babysat and provided massage therapy services in my local neighborhood as a young adult. And I’ve assisted over a dozen American small businesses push through their first 18 months within the industries of music, food services, health and beauty, all by the age of 28. I love business and executing various business concepts. I enjoy the nuances and how the business of business is never static. The love for it all was directly honed through my parents — a late mother, who was a serial entrepreneur, and a stepfather, who gave his all to an internationally ranked corporation before stepping out and founding a niche competitor of his own. Through effort, research and observation, I could formulate what worked for service businesses and individuals who had a product to provide. What I could not do was manage a person as a brand. It figures that the first attempt at this business concept would haphazardly be for myself.
During the late 2000s, I was scoffing at “those people on the Internet” who were pushing conferences, workshops and other things I considered intangibles in concrete business. The media had not developed the terms “digital influencer” or “content creator” to the depth with which we understand it to mean now, but the concept is not new. Some businesses were much quicker to embrace celebrities and iconic leaders to promote the ideals and relevancy of a business. During those late years, I used Twitter but didn’t understand what the buzz was about. And YouTube? Well, it seemed like a space perfect for those with cats or a desire to openly ramble. During the fall of 2012 many life-altering changes occurred in my world that influenced me to become one of those open ramblers on YouTube. Needless to say, it is now the digital backbone of what would eventually become a part of my reputation and brand.
Branding is a vague business concept, truthfully. The best way to summarize it, is to say that it is the distinguishing features of an organization or product. From my first public YouTube video on January 13, 2013 until now, I was re-designing and cultivating a brand yet had no idea how far branding reaches. “Okay, this video intro seems cool and I like this font for my channel name” (without realizing that would be the mouthful-of-a-name that I’m stuck with) — this was as far as I knew to go. I did not have a concept in mind but figured only my close friends and family would watch my videos, therefore I did not commit to one style. But if YouTube is the digital backbone of the Multifacetedacg brand, surely (and unbeknownst to myself for time longer than I care to reveal) my personality is what reached farther than my limited scope would.
I didn’t know that my voice, my everyday speaking voice, would become an identifying feature. I couldn’t have know that my tendency to greet a group of people with, “Hey, y’all,” would evolve into a branding catchphrase. Not much later, my business knowledge landed me an ambassadorship for a tech startup and I was making great connections in the small world of North American Hallyu Wave content creators. I acquired a manager to assist me with maintaining schedules and softening my approach with negotiating opportunities, but I was still not buying into Ashley, The Business/Role Model. Therefore, on that fateful August 2014 afternoon, when I opened my mouth and said, “Hey, y’all. I’m Ashley, better known as Multifacetedacg,” I had cemented Ashley Griffin as an entertainer. I was not ready.
Although an ambivert now, I was an extroverted 20-something who had experienced hardships that made me recoil into myself. I was deeply wounded and healing jaggedly; and the sense of humor and enthusiasm shared on YouTube happened to be a space to live outside of the pain. I wasn’t living a lie but I was certainly protective of my truth. And as more opportunities came my way, I retreated further. People began sharing how my no-nonsense approach to entertainment was meaningful to them. Some shared that I had inspired them to begin YouTube channels, submit their writing for publication, and much later, produce music. These outcomes never crossed my mind and I had to learn to accept the impact of my influence. However, my lingering concern was that the decisions I make for myself would be detrimental for business. Even more so, my personal life would be invaded and I’d either not be able to have a personal life outside of the World Wide Web or become one of the people I used to talk badly about on social media years earlier. Those “other people” seemed so addicted to the attention, so tethered to their social media accounts, and I had become that way to an extent.
There were times over the course of the life of MACG Productions when I’ve expressed concern over Ashley/Multifacetedacg, The Business deflecting from the accomplishments of Multifacetedacg, the limited liability corporation. The diverse team of the corporation has worked hard to both individually and collectively represent a brand that stands separate from me fully. I’m grateful for their understanding, drive and compassion. I’m grateful because they not only allowed me space to step away and assess what being a leader means for the company, but also that they’ve allowed me to step away and assess what being a brand means beyond it.
I am Ashley, better known as Multifacetedacg. I am an entertainer, entrepreneur, K-pop commentator and the Creative Director of one of the most ambitious companies on the scene. I was not prepared to be an influencer — a role model — but I have embraced it over the years. I aim to be more philanthropic and forward-facing in business, but I will cleave more closely to my life beyond the camera and press releases. I am Ashley first and always and the older I become, the more important personal space becomes. I enjoy all that I’ve shared with my audience and the world over the years and finally know that I have found the perfect balance for myself. I cannot separate my public brand from who I am in private, but now I know that I have control over the narrative.