Karolyne Ashley gets inspiration from Bahamian and southern roots
BY STACY M. BROWN
For clothing designer and entrepreneur Karolyne Ashley, it all begins and ends with love.
The Drexel University graduate, who has been featured in Fashion Week events in New York, the Bahamas and Nigeria, said she has a passion for people and believes that the ultimate quality of life is created by loving each other “as deeply as we love ourselves.”
That importance, she said, reigns supreme as a core company value and acts as a guide in the process of planning the pieces she creates.
“We are excited to share our love and creativity with every woman that wants to tap into their inner goddess. Love is truly the key,” said Ashley, whose company, The Karolyne Ashley Atelier, has created “fantasy” evening wear pieces she says exude the most dreamy types of elegance and glamour.
Ashley’s designs are known for exuberant color palettes and innovative silhouettes, all which serve to capture the hearts of women globally.
“We pride ourselves in creating timeless pieces that will stand out within any crowd and turn heads on every red carpet. At the Karolyne Ashley Atelier we create custom evening wear pieces made-to-measure for each of our beautiful clients,” she said.
The company works within a community of sustainable design entrepreneurs whose vision is to reshape the impact that fashion has on the world from negative to positive, Ashley said.
Made to measure
With a strong focus on glamorous eveningwear and millinery, Ashley brings holistic values to the special occasion and eveningwear markets.
“We are committed to produce our garments through sustainable means by utilizing transparent supply chains, producing locally in small curated production houses, and ensuring fair wages throughout our entire production pipeline,” Ashley said.
“We believe that beauty shouldn’t compromise our value nor is overindulgence exclusively equal to luxury fashion. With that, all of our products are either made-to-measure in our Karolyne Ashley Atelier or sold presale via our website and at exclusive events.
Gave brother kidney
Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Ashley and her family later moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she spent her high school years before relocating to Philadelphia for college.
Eventually, she opened a shop in Brooklyn and then relocated to Houston after providing a kidney for her brother who needed a transplant – something Ashley called a simple act of obedience to God.
“I knew that I was taking a drastic physical action but had no comprehension of the sacrifices that I would have to make with my business, personal life and mental health,” she noted.
The January 2018 surgery proved successful and her brother is doing exceptionally well, Ashley said.
At Orlando conference
In Houston, Ashley has opened a studio where she creates lines of eveningwear, bridal, millinery and custom designs.
Last month, Ashley attended the NNPA Mid-Winter Training Conference in Orlando.
Recently, Ashley was appointed as the head of the Style Shop at Workshop Houston, a nonprofit that focuses on community building through the creative arts.
The Style Shop at Workshop Houston has fashion, music production, STEM and tutoring programs. Students perform hands-on projects within each discipline.
“As the coordinator of the Style Shop, I am building fashion curriculum that teaches both industry techniques as well as goal centric frameworks to build the students’ social and emotional attributes,” Ashley said.
On Ghana board
She also serves on the board of the AU Diaspora African Forum based in Accra, Ghana, where she’s developing programming and collaborations that ultimately will be formed into camps, schools, and training platforms with a primary focus on building up young ones through the creative arts, entrepreneurship, and economic development.
When asked where she gets her inspiration, Ashley said it comes from her parents.
“I would say that I am constantly driven and inspired by my family and mixed cultural heritage. My father is Bahamian and my mother grew up in Brooklyn, New York, but has roots deep in the south,” she said.
“So, I am drawn to the color and nature of the islands, the charm of the South, and the bustling energy of the city.
“This shows up in the layered colors and textures of my work. I have also always maintained a strong spiritual connection which guides me through various life experiences,’’ she added.
For more information, visit www.KarolyneAshley.com.