Designer Ashley Brooke was born and raised in Florida, so after a childhood spent regularly watching the launch of the Space Shuttle, it seemed perfectly fitting for her to launch her own business in the Sunshine State as well. She’s had a life-long love affair with textiles and worked for a time as an interior designer before founding Ashley Brooke Designs, a creative studio and lifestyle brand with a “mission to make every day just a bit more fancy”. She creates bespoke personal stationery and a bevy of other lifestyle products that add both functionality and sass to the daily routine. The signature ABD style is all about bold colors and catchy sayings and is created by a team that loves to celebrate both the big moments in life and the everyday adventures. Preferably with mimosas.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? I always knew I wanted to have my own thing, so when I got laid off from my fancy interior design job, it was go time!
Did your former career prepare you for running your own business? Yes! I use a lot of the skills I learned in design school every day at ABD. But I learned most of my entrepreneurial skills from my parents; they have owned their own business for over 35 years, and they are geniuses!
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? It changes all the time! If your business plan can’t grow with you, then it’s a bad plan! We started out selling strictly stock cards online, and now we do a whole lot more than that.
What makes you different from your competition? Me. I put a lot of my personality into my business, and I think that is why it stands out.
“No one else can be me, just like no one else can be you! Just remember, you are the cool thing, people want to know you and be your friend. That personal element is what will make any business stand out.”
What has been your biggest challenge to date? Shipping and space. It is a challenge that we still haven’t quite gotten a handle on, but trust me…we are working on it!
How long were you in business before you started to see real growth? What do you attribute that to? Almost four years. I was really shy (still am) and was afraid to put my personality into what I do. But once I did, wow. Everything changed.
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? Martha Stewart. I love her, and not for the normal “I wish I could craft” reasons, but for her sheer drive. It’s impressive to say the least, and scary at its worst. But she’s a fighter, and fights for the perfect pie crust, business deal, and fluffy dog. I like any woman who’s like that. Also, I’d ask her if we could have a slumber party, because I mean, really…have you seen her house?! I want her to make me pancakes while she tells me how she achieved world domination.
The key to balancing it all is… There is no key to balance. You have to do what is right for you and for your family. Some days will be perfectly balanced and you will feel like a genius, and others won’t be so perfect and that’s OK. Balance is a mindset, not strictly something that is written in your planner.
If I had to do it all over I would… Be myself from the get-go. Goodness gracious, that would have saved me a whole lot of time.
The most important thing I have learned so far… Business is hard, but being yourself and doing it the way you know is right makes everything just a wee bit easier.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
My favorite place to go on vacation is… My family’s cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia. It’s a pajamas-all-day kind of place.
My favorite nail polish and/or lipstick is… Chatterbox by MAC.
My favorite scent is… Wild Bluebell by Jo Malone.
My favorite TV show… Scandal! Why is it so good?
My favorite food is… Popcorn.
On my playlist right now… Taylor Swift‘s new album, on repeat.
My favorite non-business book is… Love Does by Bob Goff.
My favorite type of workout is… Spin Class. I’m addicted.
What is one talent you wish you had? Sing. I cannot, even a little bit, hold a tune.
A woman who inspires me is… My mom. She’s incredible. She’s the most loving, encouraging, and hard-working woman I know. And she’s something fierce in the kitchen!
WHAT’S IN YOUR OFFICE:
My ratty, old student Bible from like 1998 or something. I love it and use it every day.
My husband gave me a pair of gold Happy Plugs headphones for all of my conference calls. I love them, and they make me think of him every time I use them.
My All The Things notebook. I journal in it every morning and also use it for ideas that pop into my head throughout the day.
A collection of Instax polaroids of my team. I love my team – they keep everything moving around here and inspire me daily.
One of our sassy coffee mugs – nothing gets the day going like an “Every Day I’m Hustlin’” coffee mug!
And my office would not be complete without… My phone! I listen to audio books on it throughout the day while I’m working, my husband sends me encouraging texts, I chat with my dad about business daily, my mom texts me great recipe links, and my sister snapchats me hilarious photos. My phone is my “Affirmation Station” ground zero.
Tell us what LIVING THE DREAM means to you: I wake up every morning to a job that I love and that is both fun and challenging. I get to keep what is important to me (God and my family) first in every workday and cultivate a bright spot on the internet that you can always count on. I am totally living the dream!
Want to connect with Ashley?
Images: [Gregory Daniel Portrait Artist Gallery + Ashley Brooke Designs]