We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Carson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, how do you think about risk?
Leaving the world of comfort and delving into the unknown is quite possibly what I can attribute most of my success. Most fear the unknown, and so do I to this day. I remember the sign in my first art studio in New York City that read something along the lines of artists knowing that safety is an illusion. I meditated on Saint Joan of Arc saying, “I’m not afraid, I was born to do this.” I studied other brave souls like Amelia Aerheart, Christopher Columbus, Richard Branson, and singer/songwriter Santi White “Santigold.”

While I studied those brave souls, I also devised a plan, but had to adjust my plan as certain factors changed.

In New York City, Phase 1: work a job that I could make enough to live there (in the Plaza District), take the F train every night after work to my Lower East Side studio, and work until I couldn’t keep my eyes open, bartend 1-2 nights/week to pay for my studio. Phase 2: take the risk and quite literally go for the gold (I make gold jewelry)–bartend and cocktail waitress so I had more time in my creative process. Phase 3: take one month off of serving, recruit from the deep talent pool in NYC, do whatever I can to get this off the ground, if it doesn’t work, go back to serving. Within those 30 days, I hopped a plane to LAX in hopes to meet Equinox fitness clubs’ buyer–I landed a national contract with Equinox. In that time, I worked as a first mate for a yacht charter, and ended up diving off the 59′ yacht to rescue a client’s yellow floppy hat in the middle of the shark-infested Santa Monica Bay…which landed my jewelry front and center in People Style magazine on Hailey Bieber one week later, as the client ended up being Hailey’s wardrobe stylist. I had actually gifted Hailey my own personal body chain after that charter. I googled her measurements and discussed her measurements with her stylist, so I could then tailor/cut apart my own piece to fit her. She wore it on the red carpet.

Taking repeated risks of delving into the uknown without a plan, without a backup plan if the original plan doesn’t work, without studying others before me for years prior, without taking the risk of moving to NYC with a suitcase and a credit card, without working tirelessly for years in NYC, without believing in myself and having reason to believe in myself, without all of those elements, it is foolish to think I could have been successful by just “taking a risk.”

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a wizard with chain and wire. The medium I choose to work with, 14k gold filled (never plated) is mostly only available in chain and wire, and a few other findings. I chose this medium because when I began making jewelry for myself with gold plated, I realized how quickly it would turn, chip, and even discolor my skin. It’s really disheartening as an artist to spend hours creating something, and then to find you can only wear it for a week or so, or who knows. So this led to my curiosity in finding a medium that would last longer. Gold filled doesn’t just last longer, in my experience and my customers’ experiences, it’s gold weight standardized by the Federal Trade Commission. Translation: with gold filled, I know what I’m getting–that the elements are at least 5% or more of gold. I’m super particular about the suppliers I work with, but that limits my creativity. My primary supplier has been in business for half a century, and they are also advocates for gold filled. However, having only chain and wire to work with limits my creativity and any jewelry artist’s creativity, but that’s why the designs are unique. Gold filled cannot be cast into the shapes that a visionary or creative imagines–you just have the chain and the wire, and the limited other gold filled components you come across, along with any other findings such as stones or pearls, I am adamant about sustainability and creating something that lasts. I want everything I love to last. Don’t we all? I experienced a lot of tragedy at a young age in losing my father when I was just out of college and my childhood best friend. I think subconsciously I then desired that whether it be another human, pet, object, home, job–if I loved it, I wanted to care for it so that it would last.

It was not easy, but I found fun in the challenge. Every situation was different in how I overcome the challenges. There is no quick fix or no quick answer to that–I just had to be resilient, no matter what was thrown at me. I had to be resourceful, often lean on my mentors, and know that there is always a way to overcome the obstacle, but knowing that the way will not always be easy, but having to be gritty and humble to come out on the other side. Most importantly, I buried my ego before I did anything

I’ve learned how few people are willing to do all of the above. I’ve learned that once I went off on my own, I was presented by many people wearing (metaphorically) theatrical masks, promising an oasis in the middle of a desert, when it in fact was a mirage. I learned to vet out the theatrical mask-wearers. I learned the more vulnerable I was believed to be, the more these actors would flock to me. I learned how to determine who I could trust, and how much I could trust them, and how much I could ask of their help when needed. I learned the more I persevered to the top, the less the ankle-biters would stray away. The hardest of all the lessons was in learning that many that used to be by my side would relish in my failures and tried to remind me that I needed to stay where they were (comfort zone), and by me leaving, these by my side (former friends) abandoned me. “It’s lonely at the top.”

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d spend most of the time on the water. We really take our ocean for granted over here being so close to the Gulfstream. In Miami, I’d start with a boat tour of the Miami waterway. There really is nothing like it in the country. I’ve lived all over–New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and none have anything like this experience. Weather permitting, I’d take the boat out to the ocean, grill out on the swim deck and go for a swim. I’d take the boat through Stiltsville, stop by The Cleat at No Name Harbor. I don’t even think The Cleat has a menu or a website, but I’d say a safe bet is a Pina Colada and shrimp cocktail. On our way back to land maybe enjoy a local beer at Monty’s or close it out with a mezcal negroni at The Standard. On this week long adventure, we’d make our way up north, stopping in Ft. Lauderdale, then Delray, then Palm Beach, then Jupiter. In Ft. Lauderdale, I’d take the water taxi and restaurant hop during the day, and hop around the speakeasys at night. In Delray, I’d sit at the bar with my girl Courtney (bartender) at The Grove in Pineapple Grove. I’d get the mushroom soup, the burger, and the Ginger Rabbit (swap the bourbon for the tequila, personal preference). After dinner, we’d head over to Atlantic Avenue to visit Mit and his wonderful staff at Avalon, and again, sit at the bar while enjoying a glass of Super Tuscan, and hope that Mit would give us each a rose. I’d head up to Palm Beach and sit at the bar at Meat Market for a filet and whichever bottle of red suits our fancy that night. In Jupiter, I’d do a half day fishing trip and another paddleboarding the inlet and finishing at Guanabanas and/or Square Grouper.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Who deserves a lot of credit and it has not been given, in my opinion? The men and women who leave their homes or this country to protect us, and not knowing if they will ever return. They have made this possible for me, and for all of us. My late father taught me how to protect myself, fight for what’s mine, and always encouraged me create to sign my own paycheck. Why? After his 242 missions as a fighter pilot, getting shot down, evading capture, taking a bullet, and coming home to get spit on, he must not have known that as much as you might fight to protect others, grateful or not, you will always have to look out for yourself. Coming home to then navigating his post-war life, watching those in playing in stadiums and on stage receiving more recognition than him is the reason I will always choose to recognize the men and women who protect us, before anyone else.

Website: https://ashleycarsondesigns.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleycarsondesigns

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashleyccarson/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashleycarsondesigns

Image Credits
Jonathan Orozco, Kriti Bisaria

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