We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Michaelsen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
The business actually came to me once I connected all the dots. About 10 years ago I was designing and running my own fashion line in downtown Los Angeles. On the side however I was modeling part time(To save money and finance my clothing line), styled other fashion shoots, and several side gigs. As I went through the learning curves of my own business designing developing and launching a brand, I started talking to my modeling clients who had established brands about similar struggles their company was facing as well. Everything I learned about my own brand (Like the importance of photography/branding, websites. PR showrooms, sales showrooms, social media trends and the introduction of bloggers/influencers) I would mention these ideas to my network of people, brands, and companies. I really was just venting and trying to get their professional advice. In reality, they were actually looking to me for guidance. But since I was modeling for them, I never thought they would take me serious outside of that. So as my fashion line grew, brands started taking notice and asked me to help them with marketing and social media plans and concepts. At one point, helping other brands by just conversing with them started taking up most of time, as I was really enjoying the stimulating business conversations, but it left me little time to focus on my own brand and I was also having trouble with my manufactures and money was running tight. So I took the risk of letting my fashion line go and turned all my “business side conversations” and knowledge into marketing services that I could charge people for. My former “modeling clients” turned into my first real marketing clients. I then took it step further and rented a showroom space that was way out of my budget in Hollywood. This allowed brands to have their actual product in Los angeles and give them the opportunity to have their product be loaned out for PR opportunities through contacts I had made along the way. When I first got the place though, I really had no idea how I would afford it or what exactly I was going to do with it. But again as I started created relationships with stylists, editors, photographers, and bloggers for my own line, I realized that sharing that network and knowledge had a value that could be monetized. So long story short, I accidentally created a marketing + showroom agency. The best part was that I realized I never cared to really have my own fashion label, because it wasn’t until after the designs and collection was ready for the market place that I got really excited about it. I loved producing the photoshoots, fashion shows, designing websites, creating long terms marketing plans and networking. My true passion finally surfaced which was helping OTHER brands be successful through marketing and branding. I always think it is so interesting how life works out, I never thought being a failed fashion designer, would lead me to having a successful marketing agency and fashion showroom that doesn’t even include my own line in it!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I own and operate a marketing agency and fashion PR showroom in Los Angeles. We work with clients who need marketing and branding needs such as producing and directing photoshoots, managing + growing their social media pages, overall brand development, website assistance and creative direction. We also pair brand’s product with celebrities/bloggers/influencers and placements in magazines/editorials and TV/Media giving them exposure in the market place, overall brand awareness and increase their bottom line. I think what sets us apart is we have filled a void in the marketplace and tend to focus on footwear brands, although we do work with all sorts of brands genres, we have became known best as a dedicated agency that focuses on footwear. I think we also know how to pivot quickly when the need of our clients change. It’s so important to not get stuck in your ways and can shift your workload from one thing to something else even if that not what the client originally signed on for us to do. Since we are a boutique agency we only represent so many clients at a time to make sure each client gets the attention and focus they need, we don’t stop working until the job is done. The “9-5 mentality” doesn’t work for me. It is an ongoing lifestyle that I have developed and am always thinking about fresh and innovative ideas for my clients, I really treat each client like its my own brand, and get personally invested. Although I like to think my agency is successful, there is always room to keep growing and thats what I love most about being an entrepreneur, there is no cap on how much money you can make. It really is up to the business owner on how they want to create their business model, how to implement structure and systems so every minute is impactful and productive, and be aware of how much you can really handle without things falling through the cracks. It is never easy building a business or career and challenges will always be there. It comes down to how determined, motivated and persistent you are. And as cliche as it sounds, if you are not 1000% passionate about what you do, it is so easy to give up. You absolutely have to be passionate and have long term plans. There were times I didn’t like what I was doing, but knowing the overall plans I had for myself kept me going. For example, towards the end of my modeling career, I was really getting sick of it and at times, I hated it, but when I changed my mindset of looking at my modeling career as the investor of my fashion line, it made it so much easier to continue to model, and eventually it did just that. So I always tell people, if you hate what you are doing currently, look at it from a different perspective and see what other elements you can gain from your current situation to apply to your future dream. I think emotional intelligence, plans/long terms goals, persistence, and being self aware can get you though challenges and lead you to your dream. I want people to know that we truly have the power to make anything happen, we have all the cards and control over our own lives and choice. and if you don’t, then change it until you do. Don’t focus on a new negative narrative everyday that gives you the excuse to give up, exhaust all paths first and make sure there is absolutely no other answer or solution and then pivot from there, but don’t ever give up if it something you really want to achieve. I thought being a fashion designer was my ultimate goal, and until something else surfaced that made more sense, and I was even more passionate about, then I pivoted. But I had a million challenges that gave me practical excuses to give up before then.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well I am not the best tour guide to be honest. I would probably put them on a Hollywood tour bus with a camera and check in with them later. Haha, only partly kidding. The city has so much to offer but I would say my go-to places for people to check out would be: Sloane’s Restaurant in Valley Villiage- Ask for the amazing owner Bobby Montes. They have the most amazing fried pickles and Bottomless Rose days! I just moved to Westlake Villiage and have been obsessed with Stonehaus they have Breakfast, a bakery, lunch and dinner. wine tasting and live music. All outside and a great vibe! Melrose avenue for good shopping- You can find a-lot of good deals and all the latest fashion trends-Not sure whats opened at the moment there but just strolling down melrose makes for a good time. Venice Beach- To people watch, grab a souvenir, and hang at the beach. Sunset Cafe in Malibu is one of my favorite places- it is literally on the sand. You can grab take out food and eat it on the beach for a cute picnic. Topanga Canyon- For hikes, breathtaking views, and a cute vintage store called “Hidden Treasures” they even have a basket of “Free items” from time to time. and I would end the weekend with a quick road trip to Palm Springs and stay at the Parker Hotel.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
You definitely need support around you no matter what you are trying to achieve, but owning and starting a business can be one of the most discouraging things to face in life. My “Never take NO” attitude comes from my mom. She always taught me by example to never take “no” even with little things, like getting your interest lowered on a credit card, she would call the bank to it lowered and be told there is nothing they can do. She would keep pushing and if it was still a “No” she would hang up and get another representative and start over. Eventually, after enough persistent she would get someone to say “yes”. My Dad instilled great business principals in me. He had several businesses and I got to witness that growing up. Both of them were always so supportive of my modeling career, spending money, time, and traveling to make sure I didn’t miss out on one opportunity. One of the most special people in my life is Bruce Moore who comes from the footwear industry. He took more chances on me than anyone, and gave me opportunities to not only expand on my current business but helped actually merge from being a model to a business owner. I truly feel if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be where I am today. In addition to being one of my mentors he also is a great friend. My friend Ali Afshar also has always challenged me to think outside the box and taught me how to handle people in general, how to read a room, and how to pivot when you need too. He also has gave me opportunities that have contributed to where I am today. The love and support I receive from my boyfriend Matthew Seifnia is something you cant put a price on and I am so grateful to have. He is the most patient person I have ever met, deals with my good and bad days and accepts me for exactly who I am.
Instagram: @ashley.michaelsen and @Ashleymichaelsenpr
Linkedin: ashley michaelsen
Facebook: ashley.michaelsen and ashleymichaelsenpr
Photographers- Drew Dailey, Matthew Seifnia, Joe Hang