Gossip Station: Ashlyn Gibson
We are so privileged to be joined by the wonderful Ashlyn Gibson who is not only an extremely inspiring, strong woman but also a very good friend of ours at Alegre.
Alegre Charli first met Ashlyn in Stoke Newington at her shop, Olive Loves Alfie almost a decade ago. Charli was Ashlyn's FIRST EVER customer and let's just say the rest is history as they have been friends ever since.
Ashlyn is an incredible business woman who has worked on numerous creative projects. How she juggles them all we don't quite know but what we do know, is that she does a fab-u-lous job in doing so! She just recently held a launch event at her new store in London's East Village E20 - to quote Vogue "London's coolest new postcode" for both the official opening of the store and the release of her new book! The launch was a great success and we had so much fun seeing what was first an idea become a reality! AND if you're wondering - yes Alegre Charli was yet again the first person to purchase something! The tradition needed to be upheld...
So, enough gassing from us let's get to it! Ashlyn thank you so much for joining us, can you start off by telling us how you would best describe your style?
It's hard to pin me down! I am a Gemini and I have never adhered to one style but think the word eclectic is over used. I wear what I like and don't follow trends. So, perhaps individual is the best word? That is the message that my store carries and is the way I have encouraged my daughter to be too. Right now I am living in temporary accommodation whist we are undergoing a huge renovation project in the factory where we live in so today, I would say graphic - basic - capsule.
You know what, we like individual! Samey samey is boring isn't it? Our motto is out of the box so we are all over that! So tell us, how did you get start designing for Red or Dead shoes?
I had my own jewellery label for a decade in the 80s. It was an amazing time where independent retail defined the high street. I was in my early 20's and we were exhibiting and selling around the world. I absolutely loved it as it was a dynamic and creative time here in London. Things began to change and we saw lots of our customers go bankrupt. It was a tough time and one that left me feeling quite disillusioned. So, I took a step back and ran a restaurant for a spell and then after a chance meeting, I changed course and found myself with a place on a shoe design HND at the prestigious Cordwainers college in Hackney.
That's incredible! The stars always line up in some way or another don't they? What then made you decide to go in to children's fashion?
Whilst I was travelling the world with my job I started picking up interesting pieces of clothing for my daughter Olive. As a single mum with a full time job my overseas travel became too demanding. I wanted to have a job closer to home and I was desperate to be my own boss. Without over thinking it I knew that my aesthetic was right for the neighbourhood where we lived. Olive Loves Alfie was the culmination of 10 years working and travelling as a designer where I researched around the world from New York to Tokyo.
There's nothing more that we love other than travelling and learning about new cultures. It opens your mind and exposes you to so many new experiences. So you're a stylist, author, creative space designer - the list is endless! How do you juggle it all? What's your secret?
I really don't know! I am an ideas person! Don't get me wrong, there are lots of ideas that get away but thankfully some of them stick and become a reality.
And what fab ones they have been! Can you tell us about the projects that you're working on?
There is a long list of ideas but I don't know which will come to fruition. I have written a children's book that I keep on thinking I should try to publish and I am talking to someone who works in sustainable furniture design about a potential collaboration. My new store is the biggest thing right now Olive Loves Alfie East and my styling work is on going. I have just come back from a really exciting 2 weeks shoot in Asia where I went to Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and China.
Oh wow that's incredible! Is there one area of your work that you most enjoy?
I just enjoy making things happen! I think true creativity is about problem solving. For me, just having an idea isn't enough.
We absolutely love that! We love seeing ideas become reality and seeing the passion and drive of the person who has it! When you've got time - What do you do to relax?
I love being outside and finding a big slice of sky. In the summer we are avid campers and festival goers.
I really enjoy cooking and throwing parties. The factory where we will eventually move back to is a great place for gatherings. As someone who was a single mum for a long time my friends are really important to me. I love hanging out with Olive (12) when she wants to hang out with me! Generally, you can find me running after her on her skateboard! I am a morning person and love living in East London. In the summer, I'll be able to cycle along the canal to my new store which will be a great way to start the day.
My mum lives in the Hebrides. Her beach hut is my bolt hole and where I get my fix of fresh air. It's important to take time out and to recharge.
It's so nice that you and Olive have got a close relationship. What does she think about all the amazing projects you're working on?
When I start something new she always says to me "Mum you can't do everything you know". In many ways I don't think I am an easy Mum to have but I think she secretly appreciates what I do. I have always encouraged her to find her own path and to stand up for what she believes in. I think she knows the value of following your dreams and I hope that she will follow hers.
She's very lucky to have a strong, inspirational Mother. We both had incredible Mothers who have helped shaped our lives and for Olive she has the same and that's something that money can't buy. After releasing one fabulous book you have recently launched another...can you give us some insider info?
Writing books about family style and children's creativity is a culmination of everything that I am passionate about. My first book ended up being part of a therapeutic process for me after being ill. I haven't talked about it much but throwing myself into something so vibrant and positive with so many brilliant people was a reviving process. I poured my heart and soul into it and was bereft when I had finished it. Working on my latest book was a very different experience but one that I think I have probably grown in to. I hope that they are both an honest reflection of modern family life at a point in time. I wanted my books to inspire and to encourage parents to embrace individuality. I have never wanted to be aspirational or untouchable. For me, being inspirational and real is far more meaningful to me.
That's something we admire so much! So tell us what's next?
BUT...on olive loves alfie east - As an ideas person, my new store isn't a carbon copy of Olive Loves Alfie in Stoke Newington. It has developed into a lifestyle store with my own hand-picked selection of womenswear, children's wear, books, perfume, plants, homewares and children's furniture. It's a beautiful sunny space and we are planning workshops and Q&A evenings for Spring next year. AND coming up very soon, we have a late night opening for residents of East Village on the 30th November from 4pm till 8pm with 10% discount and drinks. If your followers haven't checked the store out already that would be a good time.
We went to the launch of the new store and we know we've said it already but you really have done a fab job! The store looks fantastic and you're right - if any of our Alegre followers haven't yet checked it out then make sure you do as it's wicked!
Ashlyn, it's been an absolute pleasure having you on #gossipstation today! You're truly inspiring and we admire you so much for everything you have achieved to date. You should be so proud as we know we are! You've been a friend for many years and we can't thank you enough for your continued support! We can't wait to continuing your journey!
Big Besos Alegre Ladies xox
Portrait photo credit: Laura Alice Hart