Let me set the scene for you. Picture a rundown farmhouse on the edge of our little volcanic town. It was a brisk winter’s morning and I was standing in a floor-length lace gown held together with a suave bulldog clip, my bust stuffed with tissues and the masterpiece, a jewelled bouquet in my hand. This was my Miranda Kerr moment, I was making my (amateur) modelling debut for a huge role model in my life, a young woman who I am lucky enough now to call family. This was the start of the Ashlee Lauren collection.

Fast-forward five years, and the farmhouse shoots are long gone. This almost serendipitous moment in time, however has played an integral part in our adventure and ultimately can be considered the building blocks of what the label has become today. From rustic jewelled bouquets and simple bridal accessories, Ashlee has transitioned her label into hand-made couture designer headwear. Now, with a couple of upper-class photoshoots to our name we are ready to embrace the dazzling lights of New York.

Earlier in 2017, Ashlee created her very first fashion-based accessory collection which soon captured the attention of celebrities and icons in the industry. This collection was daring, bold, different and before long a Sydney & NYC PR events agency, Fashion Palette approached Ashlee to host a runway. A runway at……New York Fashion Week. You read correctly. New York Fashion Week, the messiah of fashion and culture. Quick flashback to the farmhouse, if only we knew.

I’ve been close to Ash for a long time, I’ve followed her success and quietly longed to join her business, not simply as a last minute model – I know Ash will be both amused and saddened by this. Having a gig in a 9-5 retail store had a few perks, but my desire was to be deep within the Fashion industry. I was achieving where I was, but I’ve since realised success without fulfilment has a lot to answer for . Ashlee approached me in June this year, and offered me the chance to take on an important role in her business, with the genuine possibility of heading to New York Fashion Week. Here’s an actual visual representation of me in that moment…..

via GIPHY

On commencement with Ash, we sat down and began to assess the mammoth task ahead of us. New York was no longer a dream, but an overwhelming, exciting reality if we were willing to put in the hard yards. The dollar signs were our biggest obstacle, with costly upfront expenses necessary for the experience. Getting on the runway alone would cost $25,000. This figure did not include flights, accommodation or any other overheads. For Ash, now a work-from home mum of two young gorgeous boys (ok, so I might be biased) and a twenty-something store manager, this sort of cash was kind of a big deal. Behold, our tight-knit community caught wind of this enormous opportunity and quickly came to our aid. We were able to successfully reach a Kickstarter goal of $10,000 with the cherry-on-top coming in the form of a fundraising event Thyme For New York at Thyme at the Lakes in which the generosity of the community was made evident in a very short time, and had us lost for words. We raised the money, and could now really commit to the trip of a life-time.

Amidst this New York whirlwind, the last two months has seen us launch a new business venture, Designer Crown Hire, tackle many photoshoots, create our own original branding, participate in collaborations, glammed up for the Women in Business Awards, construct a brand new website which will be unveiled shortly, launch a wholesale side to the business and Ashlee has designed and created her 10 pieces for New York, the Zenith Collection. Another amazing opportunity came our way, when we were invited to showcase a collection at Adelaide Fashion festival in October, a mere month after The New York Runway. As you can imagine, it’s been a real stress-free couple of months! Jokes aside, the dedication I’ve seen from Ashlee and her commitment to these projects is simply awe-inspiring. She is calm and focused, she gets into her studio and she just gets on with it. Her mind taking off to a fantasyland helping to inspire these creative, bespoke pieces. How she does what she does, in time afforded to her is simply astounding.

With our ETA for New York less than a week a way, the past few days have been a novel time for reflection. The lead up has been overwhelming, chaotic and phenomenal, but we have loved every single minute of it. The process has been challenging yet humbly rewarding and the generosity that we have experienced from both friends and complete strangers is astonishing. We are eternally grateful for the unexpected helping hand we have received.

So whilst we find our passports and gather our belongings, our hearts full, I’d like to leave you with the meaning behind our Zenith Collection;

‘The SS17 Zenith Collection represents the concrete jungle in its enormity and vibrance. Taking meaning from “the time at which something is most powerful”, it aims to embrace the strength and femininity of women, turn heads and release the creative and untamed version of herself. While being fearless and bold, the designs will still have an underlying softness and provoke excitement, power and a spark that we all have inside us’

This is it, our time to be most powerful, turn heads, release the untamed versions of ourselves and be fearless. It’s time. This is our moment and we thank you for sharing this journey with us

Xx Kellie