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Life & Work with Ashley Walling

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Walling.

Hi Ashley, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
In 2017, I started my small business Ash Art in Nashville, Tennessee. At the time, I was attending college at Trevecca in Nashville, TN pursuing a degree in communication studies. My grandmother had passed away in 2015 and I was looking for something to do in her memory. There were a bunch of mason jars leftover that were passed down to me that used to be my grandmothers and instead of keeping them in kitchen cabinets, I wanted to make something beautiful out of them. I painted a few mason jars and it all started from there & I decided to name it Ash Art. In 2017 there was a job opening at a local boutique called Bits & Pieces in my hometown of Nashville. One of the students that I went to school with posted the job opportunity at my college. I started working there as a shopkeeper. The shop was full of antiques, vendor booths, boutique clothing, records & it was so inspiring. The owner of the shop, Aubrey Prosser, had a few students who included their art in her store & sold it as vendors.

By 2018, I had my first vendor booth at Bits & Pieces Antique Boutique in Nashville, Tennessee. I had a small stand with painted mason jars, vintage clothing & jewelry. That year I began growing my business in other craft fairs and shops around town. In 2019 I graduated college and was still running my business. I decided to keep it going even though I took a job in Nashville within the country music television industry. My job in country music has inspired me in my small business growth. I grew up listening to country music and have a passion for the outfits country music stars wore on the Opry stage. The world of rhinestones & fringe soon came to be a part of my business and I developed a passion for embellishing jackets, shoes, hats & more. In 2021 I came across an opportunity to open a vendor booth in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This past October, I opened a booth at Painted Tree Marketplace as a second location. Ash Art is now located at two stores in Middle Tennessee: Bits & Pieces Antique Boutique in Nashville, TN inside the heart of Germantown & Painted Tree Marketplace in Murfreesboro, TN.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The main struggle I had was while I was in college. It took up a lot of my time & I had very little time to blossom or grow my business. Once I graduated is when my business really started to take off & grow. I had time to develop my passion and know what kind of pieces I was interested in creating. I watch a lot of fashion trends and try to make sure that I put my own personal spin and want the items to of course sell. I enjoy being a part of many women’s trips to Nashville. Whether it’s an embellished hat, fringe jacket, piece of jewelry or pair of rhinestone shoes that they take home- I want to make sure that people like my products and know that there was a passion or person behind that product. My vendor booth is not a chain business. Small businesses have had it very rough this past year from 2020-2021. Buying something local is supporting people’s passions and hobbies.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I work in television as a programming coordinator at a country music & lifestyle network. Country music has been a major influence on what type of styles I have designed within my small business, Ash Art. I think what sets me apart from others is that I developed this at nothing more than a hobby and it grew into something that I look forward to each day.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
The very first step I took being a vendor, I didn’t know if any of my items were going to sell. I just had to test it out and begin to see what people like or what they may want to take home that is unique when visiting Nashville. Once I got over that fear of something not selling is when I really began to flourish. Instead of wondering if something was going to sell, I just started making things that I liked, and that’s when I think others began to like it too. It caught attention. I want to make things flashy! With bling, rhinestones, all of the fringe…something you would see on a vinyl music cover from the 1950s all the way to the 90’s. That’s what inspires me.

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