Ashley Cooper’s love for design started at a very young age. The daughter of an interior designer, she grew up learning valuable design lessons from her mother and experimenting with different kinds of artwork. She eventually received a degree in fashion design and founded Ashley Cooper Design, a brand that offers textile and surface designs, fashion illustrations, typography prints, and more. As a designer, wife, and mother, Ashley has built her career around exactly what she loves, and has received plenty of accolades and national recognition along the way. That’s why we’re thrilled to feature her and celebrate her achievements as a entrepreneur: “Get It Girl!”
What was your “aha!” moment when you realized that you wanted to go full throttle with your passion?
I was still in school full time, working on my fashion design degree, when the opportunity arose for me to enter a design contest via Project Runway and Aquafina water. I entered one of my fashion illustrations and made it to the final four. I was flown to New York City for the final “Pure Challenge” design competition. At that event, I was approached by a company to create a custom fashion illustration for their branding, and many others asked me where they could buy my illustrations. The light bulb went off! My illustration had gotten rave reviews on the scale of Project Runway with its first ever exposure. I knew I had something that people wanted and that it was the most logical product to launch my own design business.
What does a day in the life of Ashley Cooper consist of?
Well, first, I am a wife and a mother of two toddlers and I work from home. My studio space is right in the center of my home (literally), which makes playing both role of mother and designer very easy and practical. Every morning I dream of sleeping in till noon, but that never happens! My day usually begins around 7:30 am when my kids wake up. I will get my kids fed, dressed, and ready for the day. They usually want to head straight outside, so that’s when I begin answering emails, checking Instagram, and usually posting something on Instagram as well. I keep a very detailed calendar with all my design deadlines and the list of current projects that I am working on, so I always have that close. It’s kind of my monthly to-do list and I try to stick to it religiously. I will check my calendar to see what is on the agenda for me to create that day. I will try to get some design work done on and off for an hour or two throughout the morning, taking breaks when my kids need me.
Around 11:30, I’ll stop to make lunch for my kids, take my son to preschool, and get some house work done. In the afternoon when my daughter takes a nap I will work more on design projects or create an impromptu illustration of an inspiring look from some of my favorite fashion bloggers. Most days I take a long break in the late afternoon to play with my kids outside and maybe get some more housework done. I like making dinner and we regularly make an effort to eat together at the table as a family, I think it makes for some quality time and fun conversations with the our kids. After, I’ll get my kids ready for bed (bathed, teeth brush, prayer, scriptures and book reading). Once they are in bed I usually take a deep sigh and eat a little piece of chocolate or some kind of sweet treat (chocolate is kind of my favorite thing… it’s definitely an addiction!). I will then spend a few more hours designing, working on the fun projects and custom illustrations that I get so lucky to create. Designing for me is so much fun, it never feels like work. I feel blessed everyday that I get to design and feed such a big part of my creative core while being home and fulfilling what I feel is my most important role: being a mother.
Side note: I have this funny rule with myself that I have to be showered, dressed and ready for the day before 10 am. It seems pretty funny that I have to create a deadline for my daily showers, but it really makes a difference and helps me when I’m “working” to be ready for the day. I feel better about myself and more productive, too.
What has been the most memorable business opportunity you’ve had so far?
I have been lucky since I launched Ashley Cooper Design to have had some pretty awesome features and press exposure. I think the most memorable business opportunity I have had was working with Taylor Sterling, the founder of Glitter Guide, to create a custom illustration for her daughter Elodie’s nursery. The surreal moment came when Taylor’s nursery was revealed and our custom “Miss Elodie” print was featured on Glitter Guide. It was a goal of mine to have my work featured on their site and still is a humbling to think it happened. Hopefully, it won’t be the last time either!
What are your favorite and least favorite parts of being an entrepreneur?
My least favorite part about being an entrepreneur is that everything falls on you. You are responsible to propel your brand and business forward and no one else will do it for you. It something I think about constantly; how can I expand the exposure of my brand in a positive way that makes people want to stick around? On the other hand, the best part is that I have complete creative control. I can create something new or go a different direction if I want. I can have “aha” moments and actually fulfill them. I get to decided what the face of my brand looks like. It’s pretty empowering feeling to do all the work of building an evolving brand and have people respond so positively to it. It makes all the late night design sessions and doubt turn into sheer confidence as I gain stability in my point of view as a designer.
Looking back, what one thing do you wish someone had told you about becoming an entrepreneur?
Patience is everything. Your dreams can be achieved, just not overnight. Don’t give up and be realistic with your goals, but dream big!
What can we expect from Ashley Cooper Design in the near future? Any new goals or plans?
This question gets me super excited! Currently, we are undergoing a complete re-branding with a new website, shop, blog, and logo. I can hardly wait for it to be complete so I can finally reveal it to everyone. In addition to recently expanding our services and products to offer things like web and blog banners, invitations, blog buttons, and logo designs along with our fashion illustrations and typography prints, I am ecstatic to announce we will launch greeting cards in the near future. Greeting cards have been a long-term goal of mine since I began creating and selling my illustrations. The other big goal for this year is to release a fabric line. Textile (or fabric design) is really the core of what I do and was the emphasis of my design degree. I am thrilled to be able to showcase another facet of design in a new capacity than what most of my followers and customers expect. But the best thing coming to Ashley Cooper Design this year will be our newest member of the team, baby number 3, who is due in May!