Star Wars fans, isn’t Ahsoka Tano just the coolest character ever? I mean, she survived the Clone Wars, Order 66, AND the Galactic Civil War! And ladies, don’t you just love those adorable dresses that are Haunted Mansion, Mary Poppins, Mad Tea Party, and princess themed? How about being able to go to the Disney Store and getting some awesome matching Avengers athletic gear for your whole family? Isn’t that great? All these things and more are the result of some dreaming and a lot of hard work from actress and entrepreneur Ashley Eckstein. 

Ashley recently wrote a book that details her journey from Disney Cast Member daughter to struggling actress to the Founder of Her Universe. It’s called It’s Your Universe, and it’s a great read for all ages! 

The Disney Editions book tells the story of how Ashley uses her love of all things Disney to inspire her to reach out and follow and work for her dreams. She grew up at Disney World, literally. Her father was a Cast Member and her family could be found at a theme park on a regular basis. She had dreams of dancing in the Main Street Electrical Parade so she started taking dancing and singing lessons. Through ups and downs over the next several years, she landed a job at the newly opened Hollywood Studios before leaving for college to pursue another dream; acting on Disney Channel. 

When acting school just wasn’t her thing, Ashley took control of her future and made the brave decision to move to Los Angeles. Hey 90s kids, remember That’s So Raven? Of course you do! After working hard and facing so much rejection, Ashley kept her head up and eventually landed a part on the show as Muffy. 

Ashley goes on to recount the story of how she continued to struggle as an actress before what would become the role of a lifetime as Ahsoka Tano in the animated film and then series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. While doing so much promotion for the show and attending Star Wars Weekends and conventions, Ashley noticed what us female Star Wars fans had known for years: there was no merchandise geared toward us.

I won’t go into much detail about this because you should definitely read the book for the whole story, but after trial and error, Ashley finally convinced LucasFilm for a license to design Star Wars clothes just for women. And thus, the beloved Her Universe brand was born. Ashley is an icon to all Star Wars fans but to the ladies especially. She proved everyone wrong and did what had never been done before: successfully create and market Star Wars fashion for women. For that, fans will forever be grateful. Her eye for design has branched out into other realms such as designing for Disney’s The Dress Shop and expanding Her Universe to include the Our Universe line for all members of the family. In fact, several years ago, Her Universe had grown so large so fast that Ashley sold the brand to Hot Topic! Talk about a dream come true! 

How was she able to accomplish all this? Well, just like it was all started by a Mouse for Walt, it was all started by a wish for Ashley. This book isn’t just a biography, it is an inspirational guide to help you dream big. Ashley, like many of us, grew up with Disney films, but they were never just movies to her. She uses examples from movies like Tangled, Brave, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and more, to show readers how to achieve their goals. What I LOVE so much about this book is not only is it inspiring, it is also practical. Ashley is a hard worker and will never tell you dreaming is enough; you have to chase and work for everything in life! Her steps in the book for achieving your goals are Dream, Wish, Believe, Do, Transform, and Trust.

Throughout the book, Ashley includes sections for you to write down your dreams. But there’s more to life than just dreaming. She also has sections where you write down the next steps for your dreams. Your plan of action. What will you do? What is standing in your way? What is plan B,C,D, and so on? It is a very visual way to make your wishes a reality. 

Speaking of visual, Disney artist Ashley Taylor, who is accompanying Ashley on her book tour and is behind many of the fabulous Her Universe and Dress Shop designs, illustrated the book with Disney and Star Wars characters. Honestly, the illustrations could be literal pieces of art on their own. They are amazingly beautiful and whimsical at the same time. 

The book is relatively short (I finished it in one day) and perfect for fangirls of all ages. I highly suggest it for Junior and Senior high girls as a source of inspiration during some of their most formative years. When I was their age, there weren’t any clothes or accessories or patience for girls who liked Star Wars, Marvel, and other historically male fandoms. But, girls today get to grow up with role models like Ashley Eckstein and can flaunt their world thanks to the nerd-tasic Her Universe.

It’s Your Universe is available NOW online and in store at the Disney Store. Pick up your copy today and follow Ashley Eckstein on her book tour. 

Susie Bryan
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