Ashley Eckstein in 2015 (Tish Wells)
It’s Your Universe, You Have The Power To Make It Happen by Ashley Eckstein.
For those unfamiliar with the name, Ashley Eckstein is the actress who voiced the Star Wars animated character Ahsoka Tano on Star Wars: Clones, and in the succeeding series, Star Wars: Rebels. She also created the women’s merchandise brand, Her Universe, aimed at women who enjoy genres such as Marvel, Star Wars, and the Walking Dead.
Eckstein wanted to be involved with the Walt Disney Company from a very early age. Her father worked at Walt Disney World when they lived in Orlando. In the beginning, she had ambitions to walk in the Main Street U.S. A. parade.
She achieved so much more through hard work.
That’s really the point of this book. If you want to make a dream come true, then it will take lots of effort, self-discipline, concentration, and a dollop of luck.
Eckstein’s autobiography is aimed at Disney-knowledgeable girls between 7 and 12.
Over the years, I interviewed her three times, and wrote about her twice when I was with the McClatchy/Tribune newswire.
After roles on some Disney television programs, she decided to add being a voice actor to her resume. After numerous auditions, she was cast as the breakout girl character in the Star Wars: Clones, Ahsoka Tano, who become very popular.
Eckstein’s next career step was unexpected. Going out to find some merchandise (think “T-shirts”) to help promote the series, she discovered a wasteland of merchandise for fangirls of the Star Wars saga. One of the Lucasfilm executives warned her that they’d “not been successful in making merchandise for women in the past.” So she was determined that there was a need from her Star Wars events, and Internet research on attendance at conventions which showed a lot of female fans attended them. Then she set out to figure out how to provide for their needs.
That’s part of the pleasure of reading It’s Your Universe. Eckstein gives many details of what it took to make her realizations into a success.
“An important lesson you have to learn in order to make the alphabet plan successful is this one: It’s OK to fail…. In fact, if you don’t fail at some point, you’re not trying hard enough.”
Her company, Her Universe, started small, selling clothing at conventions and online in 2010. Her sales showed that there was an underserved market for merchandise aimed women and girls in media fandoms. They joined forces with the store, Hot Topic, which in 2016, Her Universe was bought, with Eckstein remaining in control of the brand.
Eckstein’s perky tone and Disney inserts in It’s Your Universe make the book easy reading for younger readers, and their parents. It’s a story with serious undertones. Stripping away the writing aimed at young women, this is the story of a woman saw a need (fangirls being neglected by the marketers), did the research on how to answer the need, and made the connections necessary to built a brand and a safe place for fangirls.
It’s Your Universe might be a good book to read with your children. Highly recommended for 7-12 girls.