It's November 2014, and Ash & Rose has officially launched! This shop may be brand spanking new, but the people and ideas behind it have been at work since 2007.
It all starts with Nea and Mary, a mother-daughter duo with a shared passion for style and shopping. In fact, the pair loves shopping so much that their closets were once overflowing with clothes and shoes, most of which they barely touched. Nea's closet was loaded with dated-yet-sentimental styles that no longer fit, while teenaged Mary's entire bedroom was full of cheap, trendy impulse purchases. It's a pretty familiar story!
Image courtesy The Four Season Apparel Fast
Yet… Nea was a huge believer in "experiences over things," she was an avid environmentalist and an enthusiastic recycler, who loved to cook with local organic ingredients. And Mary's favorite high school memories weren't formed at the mall, but on outdoor adventures with friends, like the two week wilderness hike through the mountains where she lived off nothing but the contents of a backpack.
Both women felt a need to change their approach to shopping to better fit in with their personal values, but didn't quite know how to go about it.
Mary carrying a tent, a sleeping bag, a change of clothes, freeze dried food, and a whole lot of water.
2007 (Mary's senior year in high school) was a turning point. Nea decided to sell off most of her overstocket closet on eBay, and soon Mary joined in. They loved finding "new homes" for their excess stuff.
Once they had successfully pared down their own closets to the minimalist, artfully curated collections of their dreams (well...almost), the two decided to keep going. They made regular trips to thrift stores and flea markets to find "new" merchandise, and started an online store called My Fashion Finds Online (sure it's a mouthful, but CuteUsedClothes.com was taken).
Soon Nea, who'd left a career in fashion design years ago, started coming up with new designs featuring vintage and recycled materials. Mary, now a sophomore in college, started researching eco-friendly fashion, and looking for ethics-conscious designers who might be willing to work with her. In 2009 they launched their next project, Nancy's Gone Green, an online shop selling gently used clothes alongside new eco-friendly designs.
Fast forward to 2014. Nea's designs have taken off, and she can't find enough hours in the day to really work on her collection. Mary is done with school, she's married to her high school sweetheart, and she's 100% certain that the eco fashion business is where she wants to be for the rest of her career. Both women want to take a step back and consider the long-term direction of their business. Together with a close friend they hash out a plan:
1. Change the name to something a little less campy and a little more chic.
2. Let go of the secondhand business, and focus our energy on showcasing designers who are creating new looks without harming people or the planet.
3. Acknowledge that we have a unique style point of view (we'll call it boho-sophisticate), and only work with designers who fit with our ethics AND our aesthetics.
4. Build a better website, and hire a top-notch photographer to showcase our collection.
5. Commit to connecting with our customers every day through this blog or our social media channels, to share what we're thinking about, and more importantly listen to what you have to say.
And here we are! This is, of course, just the beginning of another big journey, one which we plan to continue for many years to come. We hope you'll join us!