We had the awesome opportunity to interview Aeshia DeVore Branch, Founder of Pretty Girls Sweat! We talked about everything from her organization's mission to her favorite travel experiences and everything in between. Aeshia is inspirational for more reasons than one! Love to see people living fully and following their passions. Read On!
Soul Society 101: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us. We’ve seen so much about what you’re doing with Pretty Girls Sweat, but for those who don’t know, what is Pretty Girls Sweat?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Pretty Girls Sweat is an unshakeable fitness program designed by the 501(C)3 nonprofit TeenDiariesFoundation.org to motivate young women (ages 13-22) to lead healthy lifestyles. In an effort to help end child obesity, Pretty Girls Sweat collaborates with the most popular fitness instructors, sports enthusiasts, athletes, female entertainment executives, celebrities, teen tastemakers and local resource providers to introduce teen girls to a variety of fun ways to stay fit through organized sports, non-traditional workouts, and wholesome recipes.
Our unique program also aims to flip ingrained perceptions of beauty and sweat on their heads. Society often tricks young women into thinking that sweating is unattractive, that sports are for boys, and if you want to be athletic you have to erase being pretty from your persona. To us, there is nothing more beautiful than making your health a priority through exercise and proper nutrition. With as many as 23 million children and overweight teens in our country, this program is quickly becoming the answer to the question - How do we shift the child obesity epidemic? It starts now. We are setting the foundation for a healthier America for generations to come.
Soul Society 101: What was the driving force in you starting Pretty Girls Sweat?
Pretty Girls Sweat: When First Lady Michelle Obama launched her Let’s Move campaign, I was truly moved (pun intended) to support her mission to end child obesity. As a former athlete who still thrives off of an active lifestyle, I am well aware of the importance of introducing children and teens to sports at a young age. Physical activity is vital to the physical, social and emotional development of young people. I personally wanted to empower youth by giving girls opportunities and an accessible platform / support group to keep them motivated to take care of their health. Teaming up with singer/songwriter and former athlete Keri Hilson to launch the initiative was the icing on the cake!
Soul Society 101: What has been your career highlight to date?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Every moment we induct a teen girl into our “sweat sisterhood” is a career highlight for me. Seeing excitement in a young girl’s eyes or the determination to complete a workout is all I could ever ask for. I know in that moment she will help motivate one of her peers to follow her lead. Working with the Hollywood Trainer Jeanette Jenkins has truly been an honor as well. She has been a great mentor in the short time I’ve known her and her support of our mission speaks volumes about the work we do because she doesn’t align her brand with anything she doesn’t believe in. Also, bringing Pretty Girls Sweat to the 2014 BET Experience, 2014 Essence College Tour, and the 2014 National Girl Scout Convention were all BEYOND a blessing!
Soul Society 101: I know you’ve been jet setting back and forth across the US. What are some of your favorite places that work has taken you? And what did you like about these places?
Pretty Girls Sweat: NY and LA are cities I adore and travel to often so I can’t begin without mentioning them. In NY, there are so many fantastic restaurants and ways to connect with people around the city because public transportation is merely a step away – love that! In LA, I am drawn to the variety of health food stores and restaurants on nearly every street corner. In addition, Runyon Canyon is by far one of the most breathtaking fitness hangouts on the planet. You’re always destined to run into someone you know. Most recently, I had the opportunity to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah twice in one week and WOW... what a beautiful city. It’s mountain-lined landscape is a work of art! I also took a challenging yoga class there at CorePower yoga and the session ended like a spa treatment when the instructor placed aromatic towels on our eyes while in Savasana. Pure heaven!
Soul Society 101: Outside of work, are you a traveler?
Pretty Girls Sweat: I travel quite often for fun. Whether it’s a few trips with family and friends throughout the year (St. John and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic are always annual destinations for us) or tagging along with my husband when his artists go on tour (London, Paris, Australia, Hawaii… to name a few), I never tire of seeing the world.
Soul Society 101: What inspired your interest in travel?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Pretty Girls Sweat: I have always been an explorer. I am half Jamaican and at the age of two, I took my first flight (solo) to the beautiful island (sounds unreal but totally true - lol). In my opinion, learning about other cultures, and cuisines is what life is all about. I want to see as much as I can before I leave this planet peacefully.
Soul Society 101: Awesome! Out of all the amazing places you've been, what are some of your favorites and why?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Australia for it’s shopping, Anguilla for the Viceroy Hotel, and Paris for its mind-blowing architecture hands down! I truly love Australia for it’s pristine cities (I’ve visited Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), beautiful beaches, Asian influenced cuisine and awesome shopping. Their seasons are also opposite of ours so I caught an incredible sale on fall clothes because their fall season was ending when ours was beginning. Score!
Soul Society 101: What are your dream destinations?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Italy and Morocco are HIGH on my travel to-do list.
Soul Society 101: What’s up next for your business?
Pretty Girls Sweat: My team and I are strategizing ways to encourage more girls across the globe to use fitness as a tool for empowerment. We will be kicking off 2015 with our annual yoga event in NYC, visiting LA in February to collaborate with Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter (the fastest woman in the world), and much more that I can’t reveal just yet… shhhh. :)
Soul Society 101: A little birdie told us that you’re moving to Atlanta. I know that there’s a huge business boom in Atlanta right now, especially for Black people. What prompted your relocation/interest in Atlanta?
Pretty Girls Sweat: Yes! Every time I’m in Atlanta, I feel so welcomed and supported by their caring community. I have many friends and family in the area and I know in my heart that ATL is the best place to expand my business, create more career opportunities for young women, and add some cultural diversity to my children’s lives. Atlanta here I come!