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Meet Ashley Mills

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

Hi Ashley, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

The Handmade Home’s motto is “We don’t believe in the dream home; we believe in your home.” And we feel like this pretty much sums up who we are as people and a company. We’re a small business owned by Ashley + Jamin Mills. College sweethearts and parents to three, our passion was born out of a desire to help people love where they live, now. Not in the next house, or in their eventual, maybe-someday home, but transforming it into something that they can love, that truly reflects them.

We literally started out in the small corner of our home, as a website of sorts. I {Ashley} was a stay-at-home mom with our firstborn and found that I craved a creative outlet. So, one day I started a blog, back in the days before social media. It was just for fun: I shared our everyday antics and projects in our own home online, as we went room by room, slowly changing up our {then} builder-grade home.

Slowly but surely that little website grew. I eventually decided to put my design degree to good use and started taking on clients. Jamin was able to quit his day job and joined on a few years later. So, we dove in together, head first.

What started out as a small blog, is now a multifaceted business which creates content, video, and photography for national brands. We also share ideas and fun creations almost daily with our readers. But our favorite part is helping clients both nationally and in the Nashville, area discover their own homes, and fall in love with them all over again, with our full-service rehab, construction, and design firm.

The Handmade Home was born out of a desire for connection, authenticity, and creativity. It’s what is at the very core of who we are today. We’re grateful to do what we love, with amazing people, every day.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There’s something that can be absolutely terrifying about making the leap in the world of pursuing your passions in lieu of steady paychecks and big corporations. All while feeding little mouths, and building something meaningful, can make it even scarier. So needless to say, I think that every small business hit different phases and it can feel like you’re in a pressure cooker at times.

Here are two of the biggest pieces of advice we would tell someone going out on their own, no matter what field:

Diversify your income. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to bringing home a legit paycheck. This way, when something unexpected happens, your business can continue to not only survive but thrive. We get it, sometimes things happen that are out of our control, but preparing for the unpredictable is the best way to sleep better at night when you’re going out on your own.

Healthy boundaries are another major thing to watch, especially when working with your partner. It can be tricky when you feel like you’re building something you love so much, not to let it take over everything. Our kids don’t like hearing about shop talk at the dinner table, for example. And burnout can happen quickly if you aren’t taking time to recharge. It sounds so basic, but these can be so easy to forget. So, make guidelines for yourself, and keep them.

We have to say though, the pros definitely outweigh those cons.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We’re known for bringing in unique ideas, colorful spaces, and one-of-a-kind designs to homes to give them a new lease on life. We fearlessly transform spaces from top to bottom for our clients, not only meeting their needs but taking it above and beyond their own vision to give them something they’re absolutely thrilled with. Remodeling and redesigning a home doesn’t have to be difficult, and we help make the process an easy streamlined one with years of our own expertise to help make the entire experience an enjoyable one. We’ve been there with our own home, and we love helping clients love where they dwell.

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
We’ve both been told that we have a lot of moxie. When I was younger, I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I was even told at times, that it was a bad thing, all because I didn’t like conforming to what others thought I should do. Now I’ve learned after years of growing something, that it’s probably the most important characteristic someone can have when it comes to building a business. The path will not be a straightforward one, and it can seem daunting and exhausting. Lots of people give up before it gets good. Moxie is something that helps… even if it doesn’t make sense at times.

I also think it’s important to have a grateful attitude, which I believe keeps us authentic and real. Design can be seen as a snobby topic, and I think that when you’ve been in the trenches, you don’t really take the opportunity to work with such fun people on amazing projects for granted. We believe it’s important even on your very best of days to hold on to what brought us here. It’s an honor to work with people who trust us with something so important like their home, and we adore taking that and turning it into something amazing. We’re grateful for every opportunity.

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