One day the mother of one of my daughter’s friends, Tasha Gelling emailed me an invitation to an ASH + AMES jewelry event. Tasha is a Brand Ambassador for the company and was hosting the event. I love jewelry and wanted to support Tasha so I went. What I discovered was firstly, the beautiful jewelry – unique pieces in wide ranging styles, hand crafted with gorgeous metals and stones. Secondly, ASH + AMES is a start up with a difference – while philanthropy is a side project for many companies, for ASH + AMES giving back to artisans who produce their jewelry, supporting them and encouraging their growth is woven into the fabric of this small company. Large proceeds of sales are donated back to artisan communities. Distribution is through Brand Ambassadors, women who are encouraged to balance family and career and can choose which charities to donate proceeds to. I reached out to co-founders Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile and was thrilled when they agreed to talk more about their business.
What were you doing prior to working for ASH + AMES ? Tell us how you and Trisha met and started the company?
We met years ago pre-kids in NYC. Trisha was working in advertising and Amy was in PR. We both ended up in the Bay Area and had kids around the same time. Little did we know that motherhood would bond us in a very pivotal way! We each struggled with that question of ‘Can we have it all?’ and ended up interviewing hundreds of women for our best-selling books, the first of which is called ‘I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids.’ We hit a major nerve with women nationwide, and a movement was started – to empower each other to be our true selves, and redefine our futures. We then produced a TV show based on the books, with Lifetime. After that, we weren’t sure what our next venture together would be – and we instinctively went to Haiti on a volunteer trip. Soon, we found ourselves sitting beside talented female artisans carving gorgeous bracelets out of cow horn. Soon, ASH + AMES was born – a company that empowers female designers and artisans globally, gives back to designated developing countries and inspires women to become beautifully balanced via launching their own independent businesses.
How do you come across the artisans who make your jewelry? I know you work with creatives in India and Haiti, what other countries do you produce jewelry in? Is it challenging overseeing production abroad?
We travel a lot – and also hear about talented designers and artisans via word of mouth. We collaborate with women in Tel Aviv to Paris to Turkey to Sri Lanka. Working with designers around the world can be challenging – and sometimes certain details are lost in translation. But it’s been incredibly rewarding and we wouldn’t do it any other way.
Building a company from the ground up is challenging, how do you juggle so many professional and creative hats ?
The question of how to be ‘beautifully balanced’ is one we’ve pondered for years. With all of the pressures and expectations on today’s women – to be everything to everyone – it can be nearly impossible to feel balanced. We created ASH + AMES in large part to give women a platform to create a business on their own terms – so that they can fully embrace all of the important aspects of their lives, both personally and professionally.
You sell your jewelry through the Ash +Ames website and through brand ambassadors. Tell us about this and how someone can become a brand ambassador ?
We are so excited about this business model – next gen social retail – because it allows women to launch their own next chapters and do it in a way that works for their lifestyle. Our Ambassadors sell ASH + AMES via trunk shows, cocktail parties, 1:1 appointments and charity events. By being an Ambassador, a woman directly, positively impacts other women globally, and helps give back to developing countries. It’s a path that can lead to not only great monetary growth, but a truly fulfilling, purpose-driven career.
Owning a jewelry business sounds glamorous, working with gorgeous jewelry, traveling to exotic locations. Give us an idea about a typical day?
We wear about 100 different hats every day – from new product development to inventory management to website editing to doing media interviews like this! (And as you mentioned, we travel quite a bit as well.) We learn something new every single day and it’s fascinating and exhilarating and sometimes overwhelming. At the end of the day, we almost always have a ‘this is why’ moment – whether it’s a comment from an Ambassador about her son being proud of her new career, or placing an order with a very grateful artisan. We’ve already raised enough funds via our giveback program to sponsor 19 year-old Michou in Haiti for a year – she’s learning English and taking computer lessons. We feel very lucky to have found our next chapter in ASH + AMES!
What are you most excited about for ASH + AMES in the coming months ?
We are thrilled to be finding additional talented designers and artisans around the globe. And of course, we are connecting with incredible women around the country who are becoming ASH + AMES Ambassadors. The more women that join together to further our mission, the bigger impact we can make, collectively.
Thank you Trisha and Amy for talking to me. What you are both doing with your company is so inspiring. I once owned a small business myself and I can tell you it is easy to become completely consumed by the tangibles of making money, overheads, day to day earnings and profits. The fact that you both run your business on a mantra of women supporting other women with their lives and their careers and everyone helping each other to move forward is incredibly empowering.
To check out the jewelry collection of ASH + AMES and find out more about the company go to www.ashandames.com