We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Ashford and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shannon, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve always looked at risk and seen adventure. Not to say every risk is worth taking but throughout my life opportunities have presented themselves and I have always trusted my gut to answer. I have found that with the big things- deciding to start my business, flying to Kenya alone for the first time- I reached a point when I knew the need to try outweighed the risk of failure. Everyone has a different threshold for risk but I would rather be haunted by an “oh well” than a “what if”. This philosophy has led to some spectacular failures but no regrets and a life I am proud of.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I love to sew. A few years ago I decided to turn that into a business called Tom Foolery and began making women’s drop seat jumpsuits designed to spare ladies from going free bird on the porcelain. All women know the complications of peeing in a jumpsuit and to this day, one of my favorite aspects about this business is seeing a woman’s face when I explain the drop seat concept. It’s like giving the perfect Christmas gift. Two years into the business I started a partnership with a non-profit called Elimu Girls. It is a sewing college in Malindi, Kenya providing the opportunity for young girls to learn how to sew and start a business. This is far and away what I am most proud of. The process of starting a business is thrilling and tedious. It’s an intense study of who you are as a person, all your shortcomings and all your talents. But it has helped accept everything I am, everything I’m not, and find my purpose in life. And that purpose is to help others using my talents. What I hope people learn from Tom Foolery is that there are ways of doing what you love and helping change lives in the process.
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?
My first stop would be Three Arch Bay in Laguna Beach. It’s where my grandparents lived and my favorite place in the entire world. Happy hour at The Deck is a must and a meat lovers supreme from Gina’s on the beach is the only proper way to watch a sunset. Another hidden gem I love in LA is The Alcove. In high school it became one of my favorite spots to go with friends and still is. It’s more magical at night with the twinkly lights on the patio and it’s a short distance from Griffith Observatory for the most cliche (for a reason) view of Los Angeles. And if we’re staying on the pizza train there’s no better spot in LA than Cosa Buona. Lastly, a surf day at Sunset Point in Malibu. It’s not always a reliable beach but when the waves are just right it’s a dream for longboarders. And a close drive to Dogtown Coffee for a vietnamese iced coffee and breakfast burrito.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh wow I could go on for days about the number of people and books that have helped me along the way. My mom and my sister, Lindsay, have been there for me every step of the process and always had faith. My best friend, Maryam, has been with me for every triumph, every breakdown, every failure, and held her hand out for every bounce back. If I had to choose just one book, Originals by Adam Grant, is probably the one I recommend the most to others starting out. It’s just amazing and it leaves space for every kind of leader and entrepreneur.
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tomfooleryllc/pins/