We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Bonnington and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I was active duty military for almost 10 years and when I separated in 2015 I had a lot of free time that I hadn’t been accustomed to before then. I left for boot camp right after high school graduation so after I separated I decided to get my degree in biology and start a new career working with animals in some capacity. To help with the anxiety of a completely new life (a civilian life), I took a few jewelry classes as well as sewing classes to learn basics and then started playing around with my own designs. The thought of me turning these new hobbies into a small business had never even crossed my mind until a friend saw a pair of earrings I made and asked me how much I’d sell them for. I guess I have her to thank for planting the seed, and after two years I had finally built up the courage to open an Etsy shop.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In an oversaturated market of handmade items it has been a struggle to find what makes my brand stand out, but I have stayed true to myself and authenticity is very important to me. Being an introvert at heart makes it difficult to constantly put myself out there on social media, but as a small business I’ve learned that it is so important to promote yourself on multiple platforms to reach as many potential customers as possible. I wish we didn’t live in a time where right now there are no markets or in person events, but it has pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me grow the online presence and portion of sales that severely lacked until this year. I finally finished my bachelors in biological sciences in Fall 2019, but I got married and became a mom during the 5 years that it took to finish the degree so I am currently a stay at home mom with no plans to pursue that new career I’m biology. At least not anytime soon. I’m having fun with this small business of mine and I enjoy meeting new people, especially fellow makers. I have been introduced to such supportive and amazing people. They are my tribe.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I moved to the LA area in 2017 and had my first child shortly thereafter, so between being a full time student and new mom I haven’t explored as much as I’d like. What I have seen though I would want to share with my best friend. We would start her visit with a whale watching tour at Newport Beach and walk around to check out the local shops afterward. Another day we would go to the Griffith Observatory and be sure to catch one of the programs in the Planetarium. Maybe hike a little while we are up there, depending on the time. Another day I’d take her to the Fullerton Arboretum, and if she wanted to see my Alma Mater we could walk around the campus while we were there. Other places I would want her to see on her visit are the La Brea Tar Pits, Big Bear, Santa Monica Pier, and the Mission Inn Hotel (if it’s Christmas time). As for restaurants we would be sure to visit, Frisella’s in the Glendora Village is one of them and we could walk next door to Knot Too Shabby after we ate so she could could see where I teach jewelry workshops. Another must go to is I Like Pie Bakeshop in Claremont Village. There are many cute shops in the Village that we could shop at while we were there also. There is so much more to do and see, but these are most the places I have been since I moved to Southern California.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Michele Rivard, owner of Knot Too Shabby, provided so much opportunity for me to learn, grow, and become what I am today. My first market was the Knot Too Shabby Bazaar in 2018 and then shortly after that I became a guest instructor at Knot Too Shabby teaching jewelry making workshops at least once a month.
J Michelsen photography, LA Lens Photography, Killer Cupcake Photos