Tell us about yourself.
My name is Ashley Hinkle, and this is the closing of my first year as a first time business owner. I went to ArtCenter College of Design and graduated in 2017. They always prepped their students for a first couple years of hardship. I guess this is because the world of art and design is a very tight knit community and you can't just get in by slaving away for four years in one of the top universities. You have to build your own brand first and essentially be a slave to the in-betweens of getting experience while also not being given experiences because of your lack of experiences. It's a crazy rabbit hole! Which really comes first? Because somethings not adding up! Anyways, after I graduated, I interviewed at a few places but I was also 6 months pregnant at the time and quite frankly they aren't kidding when they say no one wants to hire someone who is about to go on maternity leave. So I had to settle. I worked at a couple showrooms as an interior designer but turns out being an "interior designer" in a furniture showroom is a lot less about interior design and a lot more about bringing in 50k worth of sales a month AT THE MINIMUM! At the end of last year, I had a beautiful 1 year old son, a very supportive fiancé and a new home we were moving into (yay for first time home owners!). If I didn't leave the showroom then, then I would never get to enjoy any of the things I had right in front of me. So I quit. Ok, fine I didn't quit. I was fired. Poor sales. You know I got the whole "Come to my office Ashley, don't bother clocking in.....we love you...customers love you...you are so talented....BUT.....your numbers are low...you aren't selling enough...." I'de be lying if I said I wasn't heartbroken. I have a very relationship based personality and I took this like a breakup. I mean, I knew my sales weren't good. But my reviews were amazing and customers loved me because I loved them back. I thought that would make them turn a blind eye and they would see my value as a relationship builder. But the higher ups just see numbers. So here we were with very few numbers. (In my defense, I actually made the 50k mark the month I was fired)
I walked out, all my belongings in a box they had already packed for me, and took my pouting ass back home. I wasted ZERO time. I began writing and mapping out exactly how to never go back into sales. And the answer was there already waiting for me and this day. It was time for Hinkle Studios to come into full bloom. In January, I completely my business license and have dove straight into being an entrepreneur and consultant. And every day has felt so good being able to say yes I'm a woman, yes I have a small child, yes I run my own mother-effin business.
What led you to your line of work?
It's hard to say exactly what led me to interior design but I did study surface design at ArtCenter and for those who don't know what that is, its designing based off of dimension and space. Rather than graphic design which is meant for a more 2d application, surface design takes into consideration the 3D nature of what the design will be applied to. To me, that meant full rooms I started molding all of my assignments into interior design pitches; mood boards that included upholstery fabric. Heck, for my sewing class, instead of sewing a dress or purse like a lot of the other students, I reupholstered not only a chair but a whole sofa too.
Where do you get creative inspiration?
I think the easier question is where do I not get creative inspiration from. There is inspiration in literally everything. Hikes. magazines. showrooms. Pinterest. T.V. Instagram. I try to just always absorb absorb ABSORB. I think that's what makes you relevant. You always want to be looking and observing things. The design part is how you process that information. I follow a lot of other interior designers too. I don't think of them as competition. Everyone will have a different approach. But I love how social media lets us into the mindset of designers via their stories. People love to talk about how they got from point A to point Z. To be able to have that information is an incredible gift. All you can do in return is also share your process. I try to do that as much as possible. And also give credit where credit is due for inspiration. I don't believe, design should be elite. It should be attainable because at the end of the day, interior design is about making people more at peace and relaxed in the safety of their home.
Who do you look up to in your girl gang or industry?
I am so freaking lucky to have a size-able girl gang. Let me just shoutout the girl gang real quick in no particular order. April! Becky! (Everyone has to have a Becky in their girl gang by the way) Monica! Bahar! Susanna! Melissa! Sarah! Gloria! Amanda! Hopie! Mallory! Like I said, so lucky! Everyone is so different and has their own strengths and their differences make them really amazing. I feel like I have a girl for everything. Some are moms. Some are super successful in careers. Some brought themselves up from literally nothing. Some are Vegan. Some are local. Some live in other states. But they are all a key ingredient in my personal girl gang.
But the top of the top is my twin sister, April. I mean she inspires me so naturally. She is creative, yet a social advocate and counselor. She spends all day hustling to help other people and bring people of all walks of life together to help each other. Meanwhile she is also a new mom and living in West New York. "Diva is the female version of a hustler" sums her up. I definitely strive to connect people the way she does. Especially women!
In my industry, there's a lot of interior designers that I follow and love. I.e. Amber Interiors, Christine Dovey, @ChrisLovesJulia , @MrOrlandSoria etc. And their work is impeccable! But in all honestly I love following and watching Sivan Ayla. As you all know because she has been interviewed on the podcast, she is such a badass entrepreneur. I've been following her for about 7 years and watching her grow was crazy. She's constantly looking for ways to branch out and build her career and business.
Best advice you’ve received?
I just remember being in my final presentation in my last studio class at school. The class was about building your physical and online portfolio. It included building business card designs and designing and printing a hardcover book of your work. And a final presentation to sort of pitch what you want to do in your career. My professor looked at me and said that the presentation was good and I seemed to know exactly what I wanted to do, but aside from the work, whats going to get me there is my passion. He told me he could see the passion as I was talking and no matter how many no's I get, I'll push through it because its what I truly want. I remember that every time something doesn't go directly to plan. Passion will take you there. Don't give up because no matter how hard it is to get "there", it is worth it when it's what you imagine doing for the rest of your life.
What does Support Your Local Girl Gang mean to you?
It means talk about your girls! Praise your girls! Introduce them to each other and spark the curiosity to work with each other. It also means to share your weaknesses with each other. I think with girls we are always trying to be the best and theres so many failures that aren't talked about. But if we can all sit down in our pajamas and face masks and talk about what might not have worked along the way for us and what mistakes might have happened, it will show our girlfriends that their struggles are also normal and it doesn't mean its the end.
Favorite things: I use all of the creative cloud. Between InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator I create most of my content. I also am loving using Canva for social media content. And for photo editing on my phone I use Lightroom.