Have you heard of Ashley Brooke Designs? If you haven’t, you have to check it out. I interviewed the founder, Ashley, and she has fantastic advice, great products, and one of the best Instagram profiles ever. I love her story and the fact that Ashley Brooke Designs was founded when she made the best of a lousy situation.
Ashley Brooke, Founder of Ashley Brooke Designs
What was your first job out of college?
My first “big girl job” out of college was working as a junior designer at a fancy Interior Design firm… but that didn’t last too long! Ha!
What inspired you to take the leap and start your own company? Was this something you always planned on doing?
Honestly, it was an idea that was birthed out of necessity. I was laid off from my fancy interior design job when the market crashed and just decided that I needed to do something and do something fast. No one was hiring for ANYTHING, so I decided to do my best to take control of the situation and start something. I put all my skills together with the resources I had, and Ashley Brooke Designs was born. It’s been pretty crazy.
My family is amazing, and lucky for me I grew up with parents who were and are still today successful, creative entrepreneurs. My parents run a high-end photography company, so I pretty much grew up in their studio playing with old negatives and watercolors… so I guess you could say I was destined to be some sort of entrepreneur–I didn’t really know there was any other option.
What were the first steps you took to starting a company? What logistical advice do you have for other people who want to start a business?
I didn’t have a business plan or an outline. I just asked a bazillion questions to anyone who would listen to me, read every business book I could get my hands on, and hustled. I worked really hard and made lots of mistakes, but every once in a while I would succeed and that is what kept me going. I have a fairly persistent personality, so I focused all my energy on that.
As far as advice is concerned: be ready to fail and fail often, and ask questions…. never be afraid to ask questions! Persistence and willingness to try new things is key.
How would you describe Ashley Brooks Design in a few sentences?
Ashley Brooke Designs is for the girl who loves life and is always looking for an opportunity to be just a bit sassy! We realize life can be difficult; Ashley Brooke Designs isn’t. We’re having a party, and we want you along for the ride.
You are so good at promoting your business on social media! What advice do you have for self promotion, PR, and social media?
Be yourself! You are the only you there is, so use that to your advantage!! People buy our products because they want to be a part of our lifestyle… we capture clients as friends before we capture their wallets!
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out?
To put my personality into my business. When I started out, I wanted to keep my business separate from who I was personally, and I realized that I was working 15 times as hard each day to create something that wasn’t me! But when I stopped doing that and started creating products for me and not what I “thought” my clients wanted, my business life changed dramatically! I love my job now; it’s so easy to wake up everyday and know I get to be the best version of myself each and every day!
What has been the biggest challenge and, on the flip side, the biggest reward of starting your own business?
Our biggest struggle changes all the time. A challenge that we are facing right now is growth. I love it, and growing is good… but where in the heck are we going to fit all of these mugs?!!!??? I know God has an EXCELLENT answer for that, He just has yet to share that particular answer with the class.
What is a typical day like for you?
Oh gosh, it changes a bit everyday but the normal day usually looks like this:
Spin Class from 5:45 a.m. – 7 a.m.
House Chores, taking Lucy for a walk, and getting ready 7-8:30ish
I sit down to do my daily devotions and journal around 9ish
…And around 10 we start! We have our morning conference calls around 10 o’clock every morning and depending on what we talk about in that call really roadmaps the rest of my day! I then work on e-mail, social media, and blogs and spend the rest of the day working on projects!
Where do you see yourself, and your company, in the next five years?
Oh wow! Well, a lady does not spill her secrets! What I can tell you? The next few years are looking very bright and very sassy!!
You have brand consultations. What is your #1 tip for branding?
What advice would you give to someone who is about to graduate from college and enter “the real world?”
Success doesn’t happen overnight and working hard at something doesn’t mean that it will actually work. Keep in mind that success takes time, and working smarter and not harder is what will take you and your brand to the next level. Lastly, you have something to offer; you are one of a kind and that’s what makes you different. Your best asset is your “you-ness”.
What is on your desk right now?
Oh gosh, what isn’t on my desk right now might be a better question!
One of our new tumblers, filled with ice water and lemons!!
My bunny jar filled with washi tape
Pencil and pen cup!
A C. Wonder picture frame
A Whitney English Day Designer
An illume candle
An Instax Camera
My Brilliant Ideas Notepad
And my Wacom tablet!
Where do you turn for inspiration?
Truly? My everyday life. My life in general is a bit crazy, and so the sassiness and the touch of girly-snark just comes out and I realize, “Gosh! That would be cute on a mug!” I have stopped designing for what I think my clients might like and I’ve started designing for myself and things that I need… like a Happy Thoughts notepad!
Who is your mentor?
My parents! They have a very successful portrait studio and it has been an honor to watch them work together over the years to create something truly remarkable! They are my most spirited cheerleaders! 😉
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
“It’s never wrong to do the right thing” – my mom
What advice do you have for other young professional women?
Don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face… failing isn’t always a bad thing; you are just that much closer to succeeding!
Thank you so much Ashley! I’d also like to thank Francesca from Ashley Brooke Designs for helping to coordinate this interview!