Remembering and reflecting on my once wildest dreams, I never quite envisioned that all I have experienced would fill and become my life. Ashlee Lauren was once an opportunity, has become my journey, and now consumes my every day. It continues to fill and warm my heart, and bring me joy in an unmeasurable number of ways. But everything Ashlee Lauren has become, I owe it all to my mum. From the very start, she has been my biggest supporter and believer. Alongside sharing my journey as it stands today; I owe it to her to share the beginning of Ashlee Lauren.
My little brand did not begin with a single idea or going out on a whim. A life changing experience paved out this journey before me, which to this day, is a paradox. While I am eternally grateful, the start of Ashlee Lauren stemmed from an ever changing story, to which I still hold very close to my heart every single day.
I recall the day that put me on my journey as if it were yesterday. Only, I didn’t know it yet. In 2012, my mum and I were walking around the park close to my home. I was 5 months pregnant with my first child, Zac, who was also my mother’s first grandson. It was such an exciting time for both of us, but tainted with the words she spoke, ‘I’ve got something to tell you’. My heart sank as I could tell by the tone in her voice that her news would not be pleasant. She went on to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be going into surgery next week. I burst into tears. In that moment, I let all of the negative thoughts of what could happen come into our lives.
Only a few months earlier, I was a bride-to-be in the midst of wedding planning. One afternoon, we both sat down together with my grandma to start designing my wedding accessories. My grandma, mama, was a dress maker and was always determined to try new things. Ever since I was little I remember mum and I would imagine, draw and create things together, and it was always her artisan touch that perfected them. We began designing my accessories, which soon came to life alongside my dining room which transformed into a studio.
It wasn’t just a hobby though, it was our refuge. A pass time which inspired three generations with an escape from the reality of cancer. It gifted us with meaningful time spent together, and allowed a wholesome focus. We were swept away in the beauty of creating something that felt natural and was intrinsic within each of us. We were focusing our energy on something both pure and positive. It was a pass time that was worthy of consuming us.
Soon, with a brand new baby being rocked underfoot, mum and I set out to design new products, take photos and learn more about the craft of wedding accessories. My friends began asking me to create their bridal accessories, and soon, we began an Etsy store selling all things bridal. Because what did we have to lose?
I was fuelled by equal parts courage and fear. Courage driven from my mum, and fear of what tomorrow may hold. It terrified me – the thought of not knowing if my mum would be here today, tomorrow, or next year. This was the mentality that was forced upon us. So all of our creativity and passion was poured into what soon became Ashlee Lauren. An idea, which became both a brand and a business. It was our little project to work on together. Having her in my ear each day telling me to give it a try, give it all I had, and best of all, that she was proud of me. She built up my inner confidence which is what brought me to where I am today. Each intricate detail within every Ashlee Lauren piece is entrenched with her, our, philosophy to always pursuit a dream, to never hold back, to be fearless, brave and bold.
Looking back now, the past 18 months have been an unimaginable whirlwind of experiences and opportunities. Taking on New York Fashion Week in 2017 and launching Ashlee Lauren’s first couture collection, Zenith showing an array of designer couture millinery. Moving on to Adelaide Fashion Festival where I am excited to showcase my latest designs again this year, all the way through to dressing celebrities at Melbourne Cup and a range of other events – even Kesha at the Grammy’s after party. All of this from my garage (transformed into a studio) in Mt Gambier, South Australia.
So today when I sit at my desk, surrounded by my little team of mum, Kellie (my sister in law) and Dani, planning our next adventure, I am always reminded of how I got here. These walls hold many precious memories, and every time I sit down to create a design, or a bespoke piece for you, I am taken to that place where I am blissfully and wholeheartedly happy but most of all thankful for all the good I have in my life. The Ashlee Lauren journey has taught me that time is such a powerful measure, and yet, it is an integral part of the beauty of life.
-Ashlee Lauren x
Photography by: Louise Agnew Photography
Styled By: Kellie Nobes – What Kel Wore
Dressed by: Mangos Boutique Mt Gambier