Hey everybody and welcome back to this week’s episode of Brand Your Passion. I am so excited today to be joined by the incredibly talented, wonderful Ashlyn Greer. Welcome to the show Ashlyn!
Thanks so much for having me, super excited.
Yay! Yeah, I’m so pumped to hear your story and learn about you and your brand. To kick things off, can you give everyone a quick intro to who you are and what you do?
Absolutely. I’m a personal stylist, formerly a brand stylist and commercial stylist, and the founder of Fashivly. What we do is basically online personal styling. We kind of fill the space between working with an image consultant, which typically costs hundreds if not thousands of dollars, and we’re definitely more personalised than the box subscriptions that people might be familiar with.
We’re all about building confidence and helping people to find their style and look their best every day.
We’re all about building confidence and helping people to find their style and look their best every day.
I love that. I’m so excited to hear later on about how you nailed that gap in the market.
For you specifically, have you always identified as creative? How has your creative journey happened?
As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved fashion, even before I knew what fashion really was. I just always loved looking at what people were wearing and how it fit on them. Even in middle school, I remember looking at my teachers and thinking their outfit would be so much better if they just did this little thing.
It wasn’t until college that I realised that fashion was actually a career and something that you could do as a job. I grew up in a really, really small town in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains of the United States, so a very rural area. Besides TV and magazines, that wasn’t really a career path that people talked about, but I had a great college counsellor who told me that if that’s what I was interested in, I should go after it.
These things I’m always thinking about, analysing and reading about are actually something that I can do with my life.
As soon as we talked about that, everything kind of clicked for me and it was just off to the races. I was finally able to figure out that these things I’m always thinking about, analysing and reading about are actually something that I can do with my life.
Amazing. What a great guidance counsellor to help you figure that out. I had a similar experience in high school, I didn’t really know that design was a thing until my teacher told me you can have a career doing this thing. So thank you to all the teachers out there doing the great work!
Once you figured out that fashion was a thing and it was the career path you wanted to follow, what has your journey looked like since then to where you are now?
I started applying to any and every internship that I could find on the internet. Strangely, my first kind of ‘break’ was New York Fashion Week, which is obviously a big one. I went there and then started applying for grad school. I was in an undergrad program that was just business-based and started taking some visual communications design classes there just because I was interested in that, and that’s really what helped me build a portfolio to be able to apply to grad school.
I went to Savannah College of Art and Design and studied luxury fashion management and marketing for my masters degree. It was an amazing program, had amazing professors, and I had several internships there. Again, it’s all about connections and people that you can meet.
I was actually recruited out of there to work for a large department store, which was my first professional non-internship career. I did a lot of different things there, everything from project management for creative production, which was really helpful for getting to know how photoshoots work, to eventually working my way up to doing styling, which is what my real passion is.
It’s all about connections and people that you can meet.
Amazing. I did some mild stalking of your social media platforms and stuff before, and found an article that you wrote in late 2020 where you talked about quitting that job. I very much identified with the article that you wrote - you were feeling a bit like a workaholic, a little bit stuck in that hustle culture and weren’t really doing what was making you happy. Can you tell me about that and how Fashivly came from that?
Absolutely. I actually had a couple of those crossroads in my life. I left the fashion industry around 2018-2019 because I was feeling extremely burnt out. That was more to do with the corporate culture that surrounds a lot of that - the politics, the just insane hours, all of those things. I was really feeling like I was missing a connection to making things that mattered. At that point in my career, I was doing the thing that I love, but it was just to sell people things that they don’t necessarily need, so I was really feeling that missing connection point.
I was really feeling like I was missing a connection to making things that mattered.
So I left that and started working with a nonprofit doing a similar type of work. I was putting together looks, but really more on the creative production side and was so fulfilled. On the ‘making things that matter piece’ - I mean, every single thing that we did was directly tied to something that was just incredible and changing people’s lives.
Fashion has always been what I’ve done and what I love, so I was really feeling like I wanted to start something myself. When the pandemic hit, it felt very selfish for me to quit my job when obviously so many people were not able to work, but I did. I didn’t know what was next in my career and in my life, but I felt like this was something I was supposed to do to figure that out.
I took 6 months and researched to figure out - what’s my next step? What is this business going to look like, where I can marry what I love to do with things that help people and really feel like I’m making a difference?
Fashivly was actually not my brain trialled idea, which I think is really awesome. It’s nothing that I came up with on my own, but a friend reached out to me and said she would love for me to style her. Long story short, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and I couldn’t do it in person, so I had to think about how I could style her remotely.
What is this business going to look like, where I can marry what I love to do with things that help people and really feel like I’m making a difference?
It just went from there. She shared what is now known as a style guide on her social media and I have not stopped since then. After seeing hers, people reached out and it’s been really cool to see how that naturally birthed itself.
I have not stopped since then.
That’s amazing. That’s such a cool lesson. Sometimes, we try so hard to figure out something that’s gonna work or design the best idea ever, but really, it just comes from listening and paying attention to what the people around you need and want.
Thinking back too, I have pages and pages in notebooks of different ideas. And at the end of the day, it’s like - no, what am I good at? What do people think of me for or know me as? What’s your area of expertise and your passion? That’s probably exactly where you’re going to be pulled back into.
What am I good at? What do people think of me for or know me as? What’s your area of expertise and your passion? That’s probably exactly where you’re going to be pulled back into.
Yeah, exactly. That’s everything that I teach when I’m doing brand strategy. What do you love to do? What makes you super happy? What is the thing that if you could do it every day, that’s what you’d want to do? And let’s figure out how we can make that a business.
Fashivly’s brand, imagery and everything is amazing. Did you do that yourself or have help? Tell me all about that process.
Working in different areas of creative production for the last 10 years, I have so many amazingly talented friends in everything from copywriting to motion graphics and photography, so it really is a collective effort between a lot of people.
I had a couple of friends, one a creative director and one a script writer, who helped me start brainstorming names. Those couple of sessions are what ended up in the name Fashivly. Graphic designers helped with the website. One of my really good friends is an absolutely incredible photographer and he shoots all the imagery.
It really is so cool to look at things and see that it’s just a beautiful marriage of all the people that I love and the things that they’re amazing at doing.
I could go on and on listing off people, but it really is so cool to look at things and see that it’s just a beautiful marriage of all the people that I love and the things that they’re amazing at doing.
It’s one of the coolest things about running your own business and being a creator. You can rope in all these different amazing, talented people to make things happen. It’s so fun.
You mentioned the photography and imagery. Obviously with fashion, the visual side of things is so important. Did you have a thought process behind the imagery and what you wanted it to look like?
Absolutely. From the get go, one of the main things was that I really wanted to show real people, not necessarily models, which is typically what I’ve always worked with and what’s in most imagery that you see. I wanted to show real people in their real lives wearing their real clothes. Almost every single person that you see if any of the images or videos that we have are clients or friends. We do the same process that we do for a regular client - it’s a style guide and we pick clothes together. We’re just trying to showcase them as a person, and I think that’s the most important thing.
I wanted to show real people in their real lives wearing their real clothes.
I wanted everything to feel really happy and bright, and if I had to say what the brand was or what I want the brand to be in one word, it’s confidence. That’s what I want people to get from the service.
If I had to say what the brand was or what I want the brand to be in one word, it’s confidence.
Well, you’ve definitely nailed all those things you just said! When I was checking out the website, it definitely felt bright, happy and confident. It made me feel like - I want to do this, I want to feel like that! If you’re listening, go look at it and you’ll see what we’re talking about. So it’s winning and it’s doing a great job.
I’m curious about the packages that you have, because that’s part of your business and brand as well. Fashivly has 3 different packages, which I think are so smart. Did you have these packages from the beginning or has that grown or changed over time?
I started out just doing this for friends and friends of friends and again, it just evolved. I saw there were a lot of people that were looking for more of a full wardrobe makeover, which is our package with 10 full looks, it’s a total wardrobe revamp. Then there were a lot of people wanting things like vacation packages, things for weddings, or they were starting a new job and wanted to kickstart with a couple of great looks they feel confident in. It was an evolution of things that I kept seeing people want, so when it was finally time to launch officially, those just made sense to me.
It was an evolution of things that I kept seeing people want.
There’s also a yearly subscription. I was having a lot of repeat clients, so I wanted to be able to give people a discount if they were using this service a couple of seasons a year.
That’s so smart. We love brand loyalty and getting people coming back.
I want to talk a little bit about your social media as well because you do that so well, especially on TikTok. I actually found Ashlyn on TikTok via a viral series that you did about what shoes to wear with what pants. I was like, oh my god, FINALLY! These wide-legged pants that everybody is wearing, I finally know what shoes to wear with these flippin’ pants!
It’s so hard!
I’m curious about your thoughts on TikTok in general, how you started with TikTok, and then what it’s been like since getting some of those viral videos.
I got on just about every social media platform, including TikTok. I was like, ok I’m starting this business, I need to just throw a bunch of things at the wall and see what sticks.
Before TikTok, I was never someone that talked to the camera. I was very uncomfortable with that, and still am if I’m being honest. I’ve spent most of my career being behind the camera, so talking was just not something I was comfortable with. I’m still getting over that, but I just found really quickly that those types of videos seemed to resonate with people. It wasn’t following trends, it was really just me talking about what I know and sharing things that might help other people.
It’s been so huge for the business. I have 3 other people on the team with me right now in a regular weekly part-time capacity and 2 of those people are directly from the growth we’ve had from TikTok. It’s been amazing.
Those types of videos seemed to resonate with people. It wasn’t following trends, it was really just me talking about what I know and sharing things that might help other people.
That’s incredible. So would you say that a large percentage of your clients came from TikTok?
Yeah, I would say the last probably 3 months it’s been a large percentage. What typically happens is people will find us one of two ways. It’s either from discovery on TikTok or a friend sharing about us.
Before TikTok, it was mostly people that were a few stations removed from someone we had styled before or someone that we knew, so TikTok really just blew all of that up and created all these other little touch points. Now those people are telling their friends who are also sharing.
TikTok really just blew all of that up and created all these other little touch points.
Yeah, amazing. It gets you in front of those people who might never have heard of you before. I’d never heard of you, I have no physical connection to you via anybody else, but you just popped up on my ‘For You’ page and now here we are!
Is that series about the pants and shoes your best performing, most viral TikTok, or have you had some other pretty good ones?
The first one was actually me talking about a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch jeans. That was the first viral TikTok that I had, it was literally just satire and saying I’ll have a class action lawsuit, which I think a lot of people thought was maybe real. It was totally just a joke. I love Abercrombie, they’re super size inclusive and their clothes are amazing. But 15-20 years ago, that was not the case and I think a lot of people just really resonated with that.
After that video, I just talked a lot about sizing and the industry overall. It’s so interesting because for me, this is just what I know, but you realise that not everyone knows all this stuff. Like the reason why clothes don’t fit you between different seasons is because they use a fit model and if they don’t use the same fit model as your body, it’s going to be different.
Those pieces that are more educational where people can learn something from it just really hit home.
It was just so interesting. Again, those pieces that are more educational where people can learn something from it just really hit home.
Very cool that you’ve figured that out and now can combine the things you love to talk about and the things that are obviously working on TikTok to accelerate that growth. That’s awesome.
As well as TikToks, you also have Instagram, blogs and a newsletter. As a creative, how do you balance all of that marketing as well as actually running your business and just being a human?
It’s so tough. I feel like anyone that’s ever worked in any creative role knows that it’s all-consuming. Whether you’re working for yourself or for a company, if you are a creative, you are used to being a workaholic. I don’t think that's necessarily a good thing, but unfortunately it’s just how it’s been. So I am a self-proclaimed workaholic, but I’m trying to get better about that.
My word for this year is ‘focus’.
I think past experiences have allowed me to be able to have a high capacity to do a lot of things. But now, it’s such a small team and there’s only so much energy that I have and we all have, so my word for this year is ‘focus’. I’m really trying to narrow in on what are the most important things.
I’ve got to let some things go, even though I don’t want to. I want to be posting on the blog 3-4 times a week, I love writing too. But there are other things that are a higher priority, so we’re going to do that when we can because it’s still important, but it’s about choosing priorities.
It’s about choosing priorities.
Definitely. Picking those battles and figuring out which ones are going to get the most return on your investment of time, energy and money. I can definitely relate, I’m just myself and have a couple of people who help me as contractors here and there. As a one-person band or small team, it can get to be a lot.
I always think about the fact that it’s some people’s full-time job to manage an Instagram page! For us, it’s one of many, many jobs that we have. So give yourself some grace if you don’t post the blog post or aren’t able to post however many TikToks a day. It’s about getting perspective on the energy that we have to do all these different things.
You mentioned that you’re a writer as well as everything you do with Fashivly. You’ve written articles and have a poetry book, which is incredible. Tell me a little bit about your writing and your other passions. Again, how do you balance those as well as running a business?
Writing was something that I found in that in-between period I talked about, that 6 months where I was really just trying to figure out my next step and what I was going to do. It was just something for me that I was never intending on anyone ever seeing or ever being put out into the world.
I don’t do it as much now, which is unfortunate because it’s such a therapeutic thing, but I think even just putting that little book of poetry out into the world was such a great step for me personally in just releasing something that I wasn’t necessarily trained in and had no prior experience doing. It was one of those things where I decided I was going to put this out and not be afraid to look stupid.
Putting that little book of poetry out into the world was such a great step for me personally in just releasing something that I wasn’t necessarily trained in and had no prior experience doing.
I think I needed that before I full-fledged launched this company, because I was just in my head a lot thinking about - what if this fails, I’m gonna look stupid, what are people going to think? So that was a really great therapeutic release for me.
I decided I was going to put this out and not be afraid to look stupid.
Yeah, beautiful. You’re so good at segueing into other questions I have because you just mentioned being afraid and worried that it wouldn’t work. In the article I read, you said a really brilliant quote: “Whenever I start to feel afraid, I remind myself that the only thing there is to lose is the chance for something incredible.”
I think a lot of creatives have that fear of taking a risk and releasing things into the world, so I’m curious about your thoughts on that philosophy. Is that something that you live by that helped you to release those things and helped you with Fashivly?
100%. I feel like that’s something I have to remind myself of daily, weekly. I think I almost had a false sense of confidence before this period in my life of jumping out on my own. If you have the name of a big brand or job title, you kind of hide behind that a little bit and that serves as your confidence and identity. When all of that’s stripped away, at least in my case, I thought - oh my gosh, am I good enough? Is this going to be good enough?
If you have the name of a big brand or job title, you kind of hide behind that. When all of that’s stripped away, I thought - oh my gosh, am I good enough? Is this going to be good enough?
It’s come up every time I’ve come to one of those crossroads, even in the business. Before I formally launched under a name and not just myself promoting this, it was the worst couple of months I’d had as far as revenue. I was thinking, is this the end? Do I need to pack it up and figure something else out? It’s just one of those things where it’s like - you know what, I might as well just put everything I have into this and at least say I’ve given it everything and I’ve tried, versus playing scared and retreating based on fear of the unknown. It’s definitely something I have to remind myself of a lot.
I might as well just put everything I have into this and at least say I’ve given it everything and I’ve tried, versus playing scared and retreating based on fear of the unknown.
Totally. I think it’s something that people listening will definitely relate to and find really helpful. When I read it, I was like, damn that’s good. And it’s obviously true, right? Like you said, in those couple of months, you could have given up and forgotten about it, but you kept going and now the incredible has happened. It gave you that chance to make something incredible, so good on you for committing and going hard.
You also just mentioned that you changed from doing things under your name to the Fashivly brand. With the Fashivly brand and your own personal writing and everything, how do you divide or balance having a personal brand and a business brand? How did you decide that’s what you wanted to do rather than having it all under one?
I felt like I had reached a point where I needed it to be a brand in and of itself, and really wanted to step out of being the face of it. When I originally launched and started the Instagram page, I very purposely split up my content. Anything that was on the brand’s page did not have me in it and anything on my personal page was promoted with myself.
It was really interesting and tough for me with TikTok because it’s been the opposite, where the things that seem to be resonating are me sharing educational content. But again, I think that for where I want the business to go, having other people styling and being able to grow to where it needs to be, it needed to have a name, it needed to have a look and it needed to have a personality. It needed to have all those things so that when people saw something, they could think, “That’s Fashivly. It’s happy, it’s confident.” I didn’t feel like I needed to always be the face of that.
For where I want the business to go, it needed to have a name, it needed to have a look and it needed to have a personality. It needed to have all those things so that when people saw something, they could think, “That’s Fashivly. It’s happy, it’s confident.”
I’m totally the same. I have Maker & Moxie, which is my business, and then me. And I’m the same with Instagram Reels - it’s like, ok well I need to be on there to film it, but I also don’t want it to be all about me.
Do you think you will have other people in your team or clients eventually being in there as well, or are you just going to be that person for now?
I think for TikTok, I’ll probably keep it as me for now, just because I feel that that platform is more about connecting with people and personalities.
For Instagram, we’re doing another big shoot on Saturday so we’ll finally have some new content and be able to move forward with that. I’m still trying to keep Instagram really aspirational with beautiful imagery and things like that, so I think I’ll just continue to figure it out as I go. That’s not a great strategy, but that’s where I’m at with it right now.
I think that is a good strategy. All the platforms we use change so much, there’s always new ones coming up and new features that we have to get used to. It kind of is a good strategy to just try stuff, figure it out as you go and when you find what works, do that.
To wrap things up, I have a couple of questions that I always ask everybody. Firstly, what do you think is the biggest lesson you have learned about branding your passion?
Oh man. That is really tough. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is from going through a couple of those time periods of questioning what my passion was. I’ve always identified as this girl who loves fashion, loves clothes and believes in getting dressed as a way to express ourselves and our confidence. I think it’s just remembering what that is, even when you go through those periods where you’re not really sure what you’re supposed to be doing with it at that moment.
At my core, this is who I am.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that lesson again - that at my core, this is who I am. I’m so many other things, I can write, I can do all these other things too. But whether people agree or not, I think we all have one given thing that is just our number one. It’s our passion, it’s what we’re great at, and we have to hold onto that as much as we can. That is usually where you will end up or figure out that it’s what you need to do.
I think we all have one given thing that is just our number one. It’s our passion, it’s what we’re great at, and we have to hold onto that as much as we can.
Yeah, totally. It’s what some people call your zone of genius or your purpose.
I just semi-recently feel like I moved out of what I thought was my zone of excellence into now doing this, which I feel is definitely my zone of genius. And once you find it, you can’t go back.
I will not forget this ever again!
Yeah, this is what I need to do, I get it now. That’s such a great lesson, so thank you for sharing that.
My last question is what advice do you think you would give to other creatives who are starting to brand a new passion or start a creative business?
You just have to go for it 120%.
This is probably the opposite of what most other people say and it’s probably also a little personality based, but I think you just have to go for it 120%. Obviously, you have to be able to provide for yourself and eat and have a roof over your head, but just going one foot in, one foot out isn’t the way. You’ve got to go for it and figure out how to make that happen, even if that’s a two year plan to where you jump off the ledge.
I spent a lot of time just creeping up to that ledge and then had my toes over it. I could either take a step back and start retreating or I can jump off, figure it out and see what happens.
If you’ve found and know what your zone of genius is, you’ve got to go for it, all in.
I could either take a step back and start retreating or I can jump off, figure it out and see what happens. If you’ve found and know what your zone of genius is, you’ve got to go for it, all in.
Yeah, 100%. You and I are on the same wavelength, because I’m a jump kind of person, so I love that so much. It’s great advice for anybody listening who’s in that crossroads of whether to do it or not do it. Ashlyn is saying do it.
Go for it. You will figure it out. The worst that happens is you fall on your butt, you get back up and you try something else. That’s the worst.
And hopefully, you find some people around you who can help you to get back up, figure it out and make it work.
Thank you so much for this whole conversation. I’ve had a blast learning about you and what you do. You’ve shared some incredible insight into running a creative business, being a creative and balancing all of your passions, so thank you so much.
Do you want to tell the people where they can find you and anything you’ve got going on right now that people can check out?
I am 100% going to book one for myself or even as a gift! This would make such a good gift for a relative or friend, so definitely go check out the different packages and see if one of them will work for you.
April 13, 2022
Brand Your Passion