Interview by Sarah Shumick
After being diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2016, Achea Redd set out to create “a space to empower and equip women with the necessary tools to use their voices and become their best, most authentic selves,” and came up with Real Girls F.A.R.T. Though the name might induce a snicker or grin, Redd is shedding light on “the fact that women have an extra amount of pressure on us to always be perfect, regardless of what life throws at us.” She is passionate about helping women find their voice, and let it out. In addition to Real Girls F.A.R.T. (F: Fearless A: Authentic R: Rescuer T: Trailblazer), Redd is releasing her first book, Be Free. Be You., on June 18, which emphasizes awakening your full potential, saying goodbye to limitations, and letting go of shallow relationships.
Are you originally from Columbus? What is it about the city that endears it to you the most? I am a bonafide Buckeye, born and raised right here in Columbus. This always has been and always will be home. Even though it’s a buzzing city with a lot going on, it has a very chill and laid-back personality that I love.
Give us a snapshot of your career path: I graduated from Ohio Dominican with a degree in public relations in 2002, which led me to pursue a career teaching writing and speech to high school students. I loved working with youth, but eventually moved on to writing for Adopt Ohio. All this writing experience, combined with me needing an outlet to express myself, led to me becoming a blogger and soon-to-be-published author. My book Be Free. Be You. is set to release on June 18.
Tell us about your current career role: First and foremost, I pride myself on being my ‘husband’s girlfriend’ and a mother to my two children. And a few years ago, I launched my blog and have continually been growing that platform, while also writing my first book. My blog eventually grew into a community of women who support each other and facilitating this community has been one of my greatest professional accomplishments. We’ve even taken this online community to the real world by hosting get-togethers and intention setting workshops.
Tell us about Real Girls F.A.R.T. What should we know? Well, as a statement, it’s a truth that nobody can argue! But when I came up with this title for my community and movement, I wasn’t intending to be clever or crude. I chose this so that I could shed light on the fact that women have an extra amount of pressure on us to always be perfect, regardless of what life throws at us.
This nonexistent perfectionism can be so harmful to our self-esteem and mental health overall. After having my own breakdown (although I prefer to call it a breakthrough), I eventually arrived a place where I could speak very candidly about my own personal struggles growing up as a preacher’s daughter in an African American community and living in the spotlight as an NBA all-star’s wife. Sharing all of this, as well as the stories of my diagnosis of depression and anxiety, my treatment plan and how I choose to face life’s hardships, has been truly liberating for me. My hope is that by sharing my story, other women will be empowered to have their own reckoning, and if need be, seek the treatment that they’ve been missing.
What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek? This question always makes me super emotional and grateful at the same time. I feel so blessed to have found something that motivates me every single day. The funny thing is that the same thing that wakes me up, is also the same thing that keeps me up at night. Helping women find their voice and claim their own personal identity is MY THING.
What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way? If I’m being honest, I owe so much gratitude to an entire village of people. My therapist has been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today mentally and emotionally. I also couldn’t be where I am without my business coach or professional support teams who have helped me take my blog to the next level.
Of course, my husband and best girlfriends are on that list as well. They have been my sounding boards and cheerleaders and have taught me to believe in myself and trust my gut.
Explain some of your work-life balance challenges. How do you achieve success in spite of the hustle and bustle? I always prioritize taking time for myself. I have a very good understanding of the fact that I need to keep my cup full for myself, and then everyone else gets the overflow. I listen to my body, and if I need to cancel a meeting because I’m tired or just mentally ‘off,’ I do so. Most people or business professionals would never admit that because our society tells us we need to be ‘on’ all the time. But we all know that that isn’t the case. I try to be a big advocate for this by leading by example.
What do you do to unwind? I love to binge watch reality TV while snuggled up with a blanket and a good cup of coffee. I also really enjoy adult coloring books. They can be so meditative and therapeutic.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a famous actress, and I dreamed of attending Juilliard to study singing.
What might someone be surprised to know about you? I can sing!
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? As a woman who is always on the go, and as someone who loves to travel, I have to say teleportation.
What books/podcasts are you reading/listening to right now? My reading and podcasting life comes in ebbs and flows, and I usually go through cycles of reading, podcasting and writing. Right now, I have so many podcasts and books in my queue because I’m feeling really drawn to my creative side right now. I’m trying to take advantage of that by spending all my free time writing and dreaming up new content. But when I do take breaks, I’m currently reading Letting Go of Leo: How I Broke Up with Perfection by Simi Botic and listening to the Dr. Laura podcast.
What would your autobiography be called? That’s a great question. I would say, ‘And Courage was Her Name.’
If you could go to dinner with anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would you choose and where would you eat? Michelle Obama and I would let her pick the restaurant!
Which organizations are you involved with around the community? I am so excited to be serving as the official spokesperson and ambassador for Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s #OnOurSleeves campaign, which is raising awareness for children’s mental health. I think it’s great that they are shedding light on mental illnesses that kids might be suffering from, but unable to express. I believe that if I was able to seek treatment at a young age, I wouldn’t have such a hard time coming to terms with things as an adult.
My husband Michael and I will also be serving as co-chairs for their annual Woody Hayes Celebrity Classic golf tournament this summer.
Tell us about a community initiative that you’re most passionate about. Anything that is related to mental health, especially if it is geared towards minority communities, women or children.
What’s the most exciting thing about Columbus right now? Right now, I’m excited by the fact that it’s spring. I absolutely love Columbus in the spring. People are starting to come outside more, community events start to pick up, and it’s just beautiful.
What are three things you think Columbus needs?
1) A 24-hour daycare for moms who work nights and can’t afford a nanny.
2) A free mental health clinic.
3) A mental health gym that provides non-traditional treatments like float therapies and brain training.
If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them? It’s all about the Buckeyes! Even if you’re only visiting for a day, you can’t ignore the scarlet and gray.