Ashley Wray never thought she’d be the CEO of a modern meditation brand. Britney Gill Photography
Ashley Wray never thought she would be the founder and CEO of one of the most popular meditation companies. A few years ago, she was an award-winning journalist covering one of these least zen topics: murder trials. But after a chance encounter with a woman on a plane from Bali to Thailand, that all changed.
“Meditation was new to me and something I was incredibly curious about but felt I was doing wrong,” Wray told me. “We bought mala beads, crystals and took classes and lessons while in Bali. And on the flight from Bali to Thailand, we had a serendipitous encounter on the plane, sitting beside a woman whose mission was to spread mindfulness and meditation to the West — something her guru asked her to do through mala beads. They were the very same mala beads we had purchased that week. It was a chance encounter that has forever changed my life.”
That meeting got Wray curious about new ways to bring meditation into her daily life and led her to India, Nepal, and Bhutan. There she worked on her practice and was drawn to designing the products that supported it, knowing that these tools made it easier for a meditation novice. She started by creating mala beads before moving on to meditation cushions, crystal kits, and more. And in 2011, Mala Collective was born.