The Founder’s Story interview started as an audio interview and now has been listened to seven million times! We interview incredible entrepreneurs who are thought leaders within their industry. In today’s publication, we interviewed Ashley Ching.
Ashley Ching is an American businesswoman. She is the Founder and CEO of Inhaven, a vacation rental-focused procurement platform that helps property owners and managers furnish and replenish their rentals with hospitality-grade products in the US. She has over 15 years of experience in merchandising and e-commerce, with previous roles as the Chief Merchandising Officer at The Company Store, a Home Depot company, and head of Global Merchandising Operations at Tiffany & Company.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
I was born in Minnesota and grew up in Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, with my parents and younger sister, Whitney. My mom was a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines and we traveled the world as a family. Since a young child, I have always loved traveling and learning about different cultures and places. At Tiffany & Company, I spent several years living in Hong Kong where I led Asia Merchandising and my travels eventually inspired me to pursue a career in the travel and hospitality industry.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
The idea of becoming an entrepreneur was born from my frequent family trips around the US. Having 4 young children under the age of 8, I always booked a homestay when traveling but found that there was very little consistency in what to expect on arrival. We are always in need of a fully stocked kitchen and comfortable beds to sleep in, and I found the uncertainty of not knowing what I would walk into precisely the motivation I needed to bring the vision and concept of Inhaven to life. During my travels, I got to personally know many vacation rental hosts and learned about the multitude of joys and challenges that come with hosting a vacation rental. One of the biggest challenges hosts faces is furnishing and replenishing their properties with quality, affordable products. As an experienced online merchant in the home furnishing industry, this piqued my interest. I believed there had to be a better way to simplify the shopping experience for hosts and provide better experiences for guests. And thus, Inhaven was born to help both hosts and guests live a beautiful vacation experience.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Every failure is a learning opportunity. Fail fast, understand your failures, learn from them and keep moving forward.