We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Woody and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
‘Til Death Creative Agency was formed at the peak of quarantine. It originated as ‘Til Death Weddings & Social Events, but quickly evolved to become an all encompassing creative agency. I spent my young adult life as a songwriter and was exposed to some really incredible artists, and within that community, I found a space that I belonged and made me feel accepted as a young artist.
I evolved from music to event production, and while I revel in the world of big budget events, my heart always belonged within the underground artist scene. ‘TIl Death was built to cater to those people; the non-traditional, the offbeat and those who are not faint of heart. We started with staging non-traditional, “punk rock” weddings and quickly evolved to this juxtaposing realm of sexy, gritty but highly editorial creative direction within photoshoots.
I’ve always wanted to put myself into a position of receiving passive income, whether that was property or a venue of sorts, however, it felt like every time I hit a milestone within my savings account to make moves, the real estate market also hit a milestone. That’s when it hit me – how could I create a microcosm of passive income while still pursuing what I loved as both an artist and an entrepreneur that wouldn’t break the bank?
I combined my skillset of creating unique spaces alongside my imagination and within the ‘Til Death Creative Agency umbrella, I created ‘Til Death Studios. I found a great space in Downtown Los Angeles and, in very simple terms, dumped 1300 lbs of sand on the floor, roman plastered some theatrical wall flats, installed some florals and foliage, and called it “The California Room.” I designed the space to be an ambiguous beach town; in photos or videos it could be mistaken for Tulum or Marrakech. I use Peerspace as the rental platform, and with us just opening in June, we have had an art gallery, several photo shoots, and 3 music videos!
I anticipate opening up two more of these spaces within the next year. While creating this “passive income”, I am able to return to large scale events, continuing to learn, grow and build my skillset as both a creative producer and entrepreneur.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
If there is one lesson I’ve learned along the way, it is this: You can either have time or money but you can’t have both.
Quarantine gave me time. It was crucial to have this time. For the first time in my life since I was 14 years old, I wasn’t working. It was very much appreciated. However, as unemployment dwindled and my restlessness picked up, I knew I had to create. I started by making hot sauce. Then I went to 8 hours a day of guitar playing. I then wrote an entire album. Then, I created ‘Til Death Creative Agency and started producing photoshoots and non-traditional weddings.
When the photoshoots were costing me more than I was getting in return, I knew I needed to shift gears. Perusing through Peerspace in hunt for another space to shoot another hopeless photoshoot, the lightbulb went off. I have the skillset AND TIME to create a space like this!
Within a month I had a space locked in. I knew I had time, but again, with time comes no money, so I had to do a ton of DIY. I did events on the side to help sponsor this endeavor, so I’d work 18 hours days on the weekends doing weddings and events and then do 12 hours at a time in the studio during the week.
The moment the studio launched, I was offered my former full time event production gig back. (We were the first lay off in 2020, seeing as events were inconceivable then, and the last to get our jobs back.)
Knowing it would take a while to get the studio moving and producing a monetary number that I could consider a full time salary, I took the job knowing the hours would be difficult. But, having A.) The financial security while I build my dream job and B.) Continuing to build my skill set doing something that I love didn’t seem like too bad of a trade off.
While I build my dreams, my time is limited. I am constantly having friends tell me to “slow down” or “take a breath”, but I am building my empire. I am setting my future self up for success. There was a ceiling on how much I could make at a full time job. While I work toward successfully employing myself, that ceiling is no longer a limitation to my goals.
Right now, I choose money so in the future, (hopefully near) I can choose time.
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?
If my bestie was to come out and visit, I would most definitely make sure we hit all the nooks and crannies of the city. I would love do a Topanga Day where we could hit Inn of the 7th Ray, go hiking and then watch sunset by the beach. Perhaps we do a Santa Monica day, where we go hang out in the brilliantness of Kelly Wearstler in the Santa Monica Proper, and then Main St. where we’d bar hop and likely land at Little Prince for some natural wine. One of my favorite places to go is the West Hollywood Edition when I’m feeling a little bougie, pregaming at the bar lobby and eating dinner at Ardor, but after the cocktails kick in, heading to get wild across the street at the Rainbow Bar and Grill. Then my friend would probably ask to see my studio downtown, so I’d make them wake up super early and head to the flower mart and smell the roses, go to my studio and then and after that bring them to Pilot on the top of the Hoxton for Happy Hour. But the ultimate peak of our trip would be Backstage in Culver City for karaoke. Lots of hiking, lots of yoga, lots of hotels and lots of food!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Raquel Grassano of Strukture LA is my mentor. We met working together at Best Events. She had a similar background to me in music, and gravitated toward social events and decor excellence. Like a big sister, through the easy times and the tough times, she “raised me” in the world of event production. That woman and I have bled, sweat and cried together while working 20+ hours at a time. I defer to her for every design opinion I make, as she pushes me to have confidence in my own self. After 10 years of working for our former company, she has taken a leap to build her own empire, Strukture LA and I am so honored to watch her do what she does best on her own terms.
Adam Wamsley, Elena Kulikova, Keegan Attlee, Bre Walker