Footwear designer Ashley Cole has had a passion for business and fashion from a very young age. After graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Bachelors of Fashion Merchandising, she worked for Giorgio Armani, Diane von Furstenberg, and JetBlue Airways.
Ashley comes from a very entrepreneurial family – her father, David Neeleman, is the founder of JetBlue Airways. Her first real job after college was working at JetBlue under Stan Herman, an American fashion designer who was President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), until 2006 at which time Diane von Furstenberg took over the position. He is also known worldwide for his leading-edge corporate uniforms.
Ashley tells us she feels very lucky to have worked with Herman, as he was hired to lead JetBlue toward being a fashion-forward airline. And while that was an incredible experience to work with him, Ashley was ready to go off and do her own thing.
In 2015, Ashley created Cecelia New York, named after her first daughter. Her designs incorporate style and comfort with the highest quality of materials and craftsmanship, using Italian leathers with a range of authentic and luxurious materials.
The Cecelia New York shoe line is now carried at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, SAKS Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and specialty stores internationally.
In this episode, Ashley tells us about life as a designer and business owner, while raising her 6 children in Holladay, UT, near Salt Lake City. You read that right. 6 KIDS. She continues the family tradition of raising entrepreneurs by involving her children along every step of the design, production and marketing processes and values their input!
Holly asks about Ashley’s design background and start in the fashion industry:
“In my life, I have to be really engaged. And I if I can hyper-focus on something, I feel like I can make anything happen. So, I wanted to find a place where I could do business and fashion because fashion is such a passion. But I knew I loved business, too. So, I did some electives in design, but it was not my major. My major was actually in business.” – Ashley Cole
After hiring different designers to help start her business, she felt frustrated when no one was able to really get to what she had in her mind. She found herself sketching out her own ideas. She wasn’t formally trained for that, but she feels her exposure while working with major designers and mentors gave her a real-time learning.
Who is the Cecelia New York Customer?
Ashley tells us that her customer is a woman who doesn’t mind getting noticed, and who likes a little something special, a little different. But it needs to be wearable. As a mom of six herself, she is always chasing kids. The Cecelia customer needs function, but also a little extra. The target age is mid 30’s and up to whoever wants a little more style in their life. #YESPLEASE
What is the price point of your shoes?
Ashley says she is sensitive to the expense of her shoes, but just cannot skimp on the craftsmanship of her shoes, or compromise on the quality of the materials she chooses.
“I wish I could help people understand what a quality shoe costs to produce. We use the best leathers, we bring them in from Italy. We really work on quality and comfort. And, try to give a price that is attainable. There is so much that goes into making a quality shoe.” – Ashley Cole
Sustainability is also a factor. Her team spends a lot of time in their factories in Italy. There are very strict tests that monitor the chemicals and processes they use. They are working toward more sustainable designs because Ashley knows it is so important. People want durability, but not by hurting our earth, when wearing something beautiful.
Key to this area is taking care of the people who work in her factories. She says the workers are happy and love their jobs. She makes it a point to visit the factories and to care for the people who ultimately produce her designs.
The Cecelia Shoe Designs:
From Ashley’s famous Hibiscus flower embellishment to high-style boots and functional, pretty flats, not only are her designs fun, flirty, pretty, and unique, but they are COMFORTABLE!
A bold flower blooms at the ankle of an attention-grabbing, lace-up sandal lifted by an angled block heel. Comes in a rainbow of beautiful colors!
Heel style: block/chunky
Toe style: open toe
The LILA Flat is the perfect flower flat.
The leather upper and moldable flower add a chic touch to a comfortable flat – designed to wear comfortably all day.
The BRACKETT ankle boots are ideal to wear from season to season with transitional ease. These bootie style leather uppers have leather fringe dripping off the top, a pointy toe and padded insole. YES!! THANK YOU FOR THE COMFORT!
A sheer mesh, suede synthetic, stretch boot with a clear 3-inch heel. Please run to Holly’s Pinterest board to see this fabulous style!
The Whinney is a standout wedge sure to turn heads, with an ankle strap, a 4-inch wedge heel, padded foot bed, 2-inch platform, fabric bow detail, double toe strap in bright color combos like blue and red, or multi-pinks.
Tweed fabric upper flat with a large buckle detail and soft sole is the perfect slip on shoe for all your needs.
There’s so much more to learn about this amazing designer!
We loved getting to know Ashley Cole and how she built her designer shoe brand. You too will love learning about her journey through the fashion industry, the importance of her family in her business model, and her passion for beautiful and highly-crafted footwear designs – that are as comfortable as they are stylish.
To learn more about Cecelia New York, visit their website at www.cecelianewyork.com.
You can also follow them on Instagram @cecelianewyork.
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