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It's All In Your Head (How We Got Started)

Ashley, 26 (edit: I'm 27 now 🙄) , born in the suburbs of Boston.  

I have always had a dire need to create. As a girl with ADHD, I found myself buying up loads of new art supplies for my new hyperfixation of the month. Knitting, pottery painting, friendship bracelets, latch hook rugs-I’ve tried it all. After accumulating another junk pile from the craft store that I would never touch again, I decided if I was going to have this irresistible urge to create, I should try to find something to focus on that would propel my life forward rather than consistently drain my bank account.  

Fast forward to college, I accepted myself as a true creative and transferred to an art & business school in The City to finish up my bachelors degree. Studying fashion business management at the Fashion Institute of Technology surrounded me with peers like myself, busting at the seems to make something out of nothing. It was inspiring to see nearly everyone around me diving head first into their own endeavors of different mediums. This experience blessed me with the confidence to experiment publicly. I fell in love with YouTube and made a channel about miscellaneous topics to see what would catch on. I dabbled in making videos about life in NYC, going to a prestigious fashion school, and thrifting while simultaneously selling my finds on depop, but my best video ended up being an informational video about Electric Forest. Finally, it clicked - my niche was electronic music festivals.  

 

After college, I applied to jobs in Los Angeles in my field. I built up my knowledge about the fashion industry as an assistant buyer at off-price and specialty stores. I was able to lock down a position working with my favorite items to buy: graphic tees. You see, I am sickly obsessed with new and old graphic tees. Whenever I go thrifting I essentially B-line it to the men’s tee section. I mean it – I have a whole six drawer dresser dedicated to my collection. 

My job seemed perfect at first, but I quickly resented the control and power it had over my life. The fashion industry is a glamorized field employing mostly women, therefore it isn’t exactly known for great pay, benefits, or work-life balance. My job was keeping me from being able to attend festivals and reunite with my friends I so desperately wanted to see since being all alone on the west coast. – Did I mention I moved to LA without knowing a single soul? And that the first time I took a breath of Southern California air was the day I arrived with my suitcases to pick up the key to my apartment? Now I know it’s the ADHD, but I’ve always been a pretty big risk taker and felt a need to explore even if it was just taking a new route home from work that day. In college I studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia and between graduating college and moving to LA I booked a month long round trip flight to Hong Kong by myself with no plan beyond getting the fuck off that island and getting as many new stamps on my passport as possible. –  I knew pretty quickly that I needed to find a way to gain control over my life again and find a way to fulfill my itch to explore. No more calculating my miniscule PTO hours for festivals just to find out I’d have to spend Thanksgiving AND Christmas alone that year.  


  

Que my first miniature sewing lesson: one hour, one thrifted Patriots tee, one $50 craigslist sewing machine, and one fashion design friend willing to kindly help me. I find it ironic that whenever I was asked which school I attended, I learned to attach a multi-hyphenated auto-response because I always got asked the same follow up question: “I go to FIT in NYC! and-no-I-don’t-know-how-to-sew.” Everyone assumes fashion school=design major, but I never had a desire to learn to sew. I really just wanted to make myself a one-of-a-kind game day tee to rock at my favorite Patriots’ bar in LA where I found a piece of home in the west, but that sewing lesson taught me more than how to thread a bobbin or sew a straight stitch. I realized it wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn how to sew, I just thought of it as a skill impossible to master. Something outside of my realm of familiarity, therefore off the table. That night I learned that just because I didn’t have a specific skill or knowledge at the moment, doesn’t mean I’ll never be able to do it. And I might actually like it. The roadblocks in my head were only imaginary
 

  

Shortly after my first lesson, I got furloughed from my job like many of us did in March of 2020. Looking for structure and sanity during this jarring change, I bought a guided journal and wrote down in the affirmation section: “I am open to receiving creative inspiration” in hopes to think of a money-making business idea that would go side-by-side with my festival YouTube channel if it ever really took off. Within days I ended up dreaming up something even better, something I could do right now. I combined my knowledge of the retail business and buying, my obsession with graphic tees, and my love for music festivals to create So Butterfly Clothing. It was never about greed, instead I knew that this idea could be my key to unlock freedom. 

 

May 2020 I started experimenting with making graphics, tie dying, reworking new and thrifted clothes, and pulling it all together. June 2020 I switched up the name of my thrifting account @SoButterflyVintage to @SoButterflyClothing. July 2020 I uploaded a handful of items to sell on Instagram and nearly sold out. By August 2020 I found more momentum than I ever had with thrifting/depop, or even my YouTube channel, and launched a website. You remember how I said I always had a need to create? Well, in 2006 before social media, I was eleven and teaching myself how to make websites, code with HTML, and make graphics on a free Photoshop trial and that came in handy here. 

Fast forward to now, instead of nursing my closet with my 100th unnecessary t-shirt, I am able to revert my obsession of buying tees to creating them for others and helping you all make your own collection. To anyone still reading this: beyond building you up a bad ass t-shirt drawer, I hope to inspire you. To any woman who feels underpaid and undervalued at her job, to any neurodivergent mind who knows the world isn’t made for the way their brain works, and to any free spirit who doesn’t want to hand their life over to The Man’s rigid, suffocating schedule. Fear is imaginary. Most of your roadblocks aren’t real. Make it happen ;)

Ashley x

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