What happens when your dreams don’t go according to plan? You compromise. At least that’s what the young and hopeful Rick-Ashley Foster did when she set out to attend dental school at the University of Technology back in 2017.
Her dream was finally coming to fruition, but her choice to pursue a Doctor of Medicine in dentistry suddenly didn’t sit well with her. “I just wasn’t excited about going to school for five years,” she confessed.
Placed in the precarious position of sacrificing her calling for peace of mind, Foster conducted extensive research, which led her to dental hygiene. Had she signed up for the five-year dentistry programme, she would not possess the flexibility nor the time to discover new opportunities in philanthropy and entrepreneurship. Now, she had the chance to explore other areas of interest.
Her parents weren’t initially on board with this swift shift, because it came as a shock to them. However, over time, they adjusted. Following the completion of her Bachelor’s of Science degree from UTech, she found that it was difficult to secure a comfortable job. But she has since settled into a new office with no complaints.
“My parents raised me and took care of me. So I made it my mission, and my duty, to do them proud and be successful. They are very supportive of me, and I appreciate that. Otherwise, I am a very ambitious person. I always strive to be the best at whatever I do, so it was no different when it came to this career move,” said Foster.
Known by the sobriquet ‘The Smile Fairy’, the Montegonian is today a dental hygienist, an entrepreneur, as well as a YouTuber, and she couldn’t be happier.
“The dental hygienist programme was the perfect compromise. I’m still in the field of dentistry. I get to see my patients and do procedures, and I really love my job. My office is the greatest environment to be and grow in,” she told Flair.
So what exactly is the difference between being a dental hygienist and being a dentist? The Smile Fairy was happy to see the record straight. One of the most significant differences between the two, she says, is the primary activity of each.
“You really only spend a fair amount of time with your dentist if there’s a problem; for example, you might need a tooth removed or have a cavity that needs to be filled. A dental hygienist, on the other hand, is there to maintain preventative care and help you to avoid any significant issues. They are usually the person responsible for cleaning your teeth during your routine six-month appointment,” she said.
In 2018, Foster started her first official business. The Art Cloud provided an online platform for persons who were in the business of buying and selling products like art and accessories. Imagine it as the Jamaican version of Amazon for artisans. “It taught me a lot!” she remarked. These lessons include all the aspects involved with starting a business in Jamaica and the skills needed to maintain a business. The company closed in 2020, but that isn’t her last foray in entrepreneurship.
With all intentions of starting more businesses, she is focusing on building her brand as a YouTuber and completing her master’s degree to become a dental therapist. She also has her hand in a tasty food venture. She shared, “I recently launched my mom’s business, Freshly Baked By Audrey. So I have my hands full with managing and marketing that culinary initiative”.
Her YouTube channel, The Smile Fairy, provides informative content on her day job as a dental hygienist, her role as a business owner, and her interests in haircare and culinary arts.
She says starting a YouTube channel was an impulsive decision. “It was always something in the back of my mind, but I didn’t think that I personally could have done it. But after careful consideration and encouragement from others, I thought, ‘Why not?’” she said. With the decision made late February of this year, she recorded her first video by the second week of March, amid the global pandemic, and continues to add content, giving viewers a glimpse into her life.