Rejection, renewal and representation: Avantha Arachchi’s authentic leadership and trailblazing work

Avantha Arachchi had done everything right, and she was one clearance away from achieving her life-long dream of joining the CIA when she was rejected because of her transgender identity. In response, she built her career around encouraging others to be their authentic selves. As COO of A-Frame Brands, Avantha works with celebrities—including Gabrielle Union, Dwayne Wade, John Legend and Naomi Osaka—to develop personal care brands like PROUDLY and Kinló that create products for culturally diverse consumers. In this episode, hear why representation matters and why you don’t have to compromise who you are for your work.

Diversity Beyond the Checkbox is brought to you by The Diversity Movement, hosted by Head of Content Jackie Ferguson and is a production of Earfluence.


[00:00:00] Jackie Ferguson: Thanks everyone for tuning in to the Diversity Beyond the Checkbox Podcast. My guest today is Avantha Arachchi. Avantha is the Chief operating officer of A-Frame Brands, a portfolio of brands developed for underrepresented groups founded by celebrity talent, bringing more than a decade of building and scaling startups, and CPG fashion and tech.

[00:00:21] She is a former behaviorist, current data nerd, and has won accolades for thought leadership and talent. Reported fastest growing companies, and blazing trails as a trans woman of color at the forefront of business and innovation. Avantha, thank you so much for being here.

[00:00:39] Avantha Arachchi: Thank you for having me Jackie.

[00:00:41] Jackie Ferguson: Of course. I always start every show by asking our guests to just talk a little bit about themselves, your background, your family, your identity, whatever you’d like to share.

[00:00:51] Avantha Arachchi: Yeah, absolutely. So, I, I, as you mentioned, I am trans woman of color. I think that’s where my identity starts. it’s the way that I exist in [00:01:00] the world. It’s the way that I, I, it colors so much of how I experience things. and I think part of it is also because I, it’s actually, fairly rare that, like I transitioned later as I was already in business.

[00:01:12] And so, I experienced the world when I identified as male, and then now I experience the world identifying as female. And like just the things that kind of changed in my life, because of that, struck me to my core, which then wanted, like, I’d talk to somebody who, like, her favorite question is like, what radicalized you towards what you wanna be able to build in this world?

Full Episode Transcript

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The Inclusive Language Handbook: A Guide to Better Communication and Transformational Leadership, by Jackie Ferguson and Roxanne Bellamy

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