Meet the New ABD

 

Blogger Ashley Brooke and her husband Ryan in their sunny Florida home | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

 

Well, welcome to the brand new Ashley Brooke Designs!

I have been writing this blog post in my head for months now, so I am over the moon to finally be able to share it with you here. But before I get started, buckle up, because it’s going to be a long (and exciting!) update. And in advance, I just want to say ‘thank you’! Thank you for following along, thank you for faithfully visiting ABD each day, and thank you for your incredible support… my hope is that this next season of ABD is just as exciting as the last!

Okay, so now that my thank-you’s are out of the way, I’m just going to dive right in. As many of you know, in 2008, when I started Ashley Brooke Designs, that very same day I started the ABD blog. I had no idea how to advertise my custom illustrated stationery at the time so I figured I’d start blogging (on blogspot.com, ha!) and talk about the things I love, along with my stationery… and that is exactly what I did. Who knew that buying this domain name in June 2008 would put something truly amazing into motion!

I have blogged nearly every day for the past nine years, which is quite literally insane to even type out. As my business changed, grew, and exploded the one thing that stayed constant was the blog. Day in and day out it was my very favorite place. I’m not a writer by nature. I spell most things wrong, I put WAY too many commas in my sentences, and the rest of my grammar is less than stellar. But for some reason the whole blogging habit stuck. I loved the ability to create and share things with you instantly. To brainstorm ideas and connect with my readers and clients in a way most businesses weren’t doing. The blog, to me, has always been the heartbeat of ABD. It’s where all my good ideas started.

In December 2012, after a particularly devastating year, I hand-made coffee mugs for my girlfriends as Christmas presents. Every year my girlfriends and I swap gifts and that year I was barely able to afford more than the $5 white mug from Target. So when I saw the Pinterest hack, “draw on a mug with a sharpie and bake it,” I figured I had my gift for the year. I made each of my girlfriends their very own mug with a saying that fit them the most, and they were a HIT… even if they were faulty.

I was shocked to find that each one of them loved their mug so very much. I honestly thought the gift screamed “handmade”, but they didn’t care. Although a few weeks later after the sharpie had worn off the mugs I decided to bite the bullet and remake them via an online print shop so that everyone could actually enjoy their Christmas gifts without fear of ink poisoning.

 

The very first Ashley Brooke Designs Coffee Mug | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com
The very first Ashley Brooke Designs Coffee Mug | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

 

The very first ABD coffee mugs! | Left: made with sharpie | Right: first printed mug

Betsy, my BFF and original ABD partner in crime, Instagrammed her “let’s always be fancy” mug and a few people asked her where they could buy their own. She came into work later that week and said, “I think we should sell coffee mugs” and I said, “you are nuts!” A few short months later we had sold more than a thousand mugs.

 

Shipping Ashley Brooke Designs Coffee Mugs | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

Shelby shipping orders from my spare bedroom.

Those first few months in 2013 were like nothing I had ever witnessed. No one had seen handwritten sayings on coffee mugs. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we had started something truly spectacular… a real live trend and it was unfolding right in front of our eyes.

 

Shipping Ashley Brooke Designs Coffee Mugs | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

more than 3,000 coffee mugs in our garage!

In 2014, Ryan and I fell in love and got married. The year was full of romance, but also late nights trying to de-jam the shipping label printer and packing boxes. Our house became full of interns, bubble wrap, chaos, and excitement. In November of that year after receiving a shipment of 3,000 coffee mugs in our garage we decided it was time to move out. That month, two weeks before Black Friday, Ryan moved our precious cargo into a shiny new warehouse as I drove up to Charleston to welcome our newborn niece into the world. Life was thrilling and less than calm.

 

Shipping Ashley Brooke Designs Coffee Mugs | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

The first few days in our new warehouse.

When January of 2015 hit we sat down and decided that it was high-time the blog started shining on its own. Ryan had started a company with his brothers a few years before called Brother’s and Craft (which is still a thing by the way!), so he knew all the SEO and link things that I didn’t. Honestly, I had no idea you could make a living off of a blog so I was fairly shocked when he started putting some muscle behind my posts. I had started on Instagram in the early days, so it provided a lot of traction to start… and to my surprise, the blog grew. We were working with partners I had never dreamed of and each day was a new whirlwind of excitement.

I’m so thankful Ryan sat me down and told me the blog had potential of it’s own that day in 2015, because he was right. It was where I first fell in love with business and by late 2015 the blog was making a enough money to stand on it’s own two feet, apart from the coffee mugs. That’s when we knew it was time for Ryan to leave his fancy finance job and risk it all with me over at ABD.

 

Ashley Brooke doing a smokey eye tutorial with Elizabeth Arden | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com
Ashley Brooke | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com
Campaigns for the blog in 2015

 

In January 2016 we made the decision for Ryan to make the jump and gave ourselves three months to get our act together. It was terrifying and thrilling. I mean, honestly, who leaves investment wholesaling to sell coffee mugs that say “Every day I’m hustlin’” on them and edit blog posts about lipstick?! A crazy person. Ryan’s first official day at ABD was April 1, 2016, which seemed fitting. He traded in his suit, tie, and after work cocktails for jeans, sneakers, and late night coding… we were living the dream or what we thought was the dream! We slept very little, lived on espresso, and got high of the adrenalin of each sale.

 

Blogger Ashley Brooke and husband Ryan | www.ashleybrookedesign.com
Blogger Ashley Brooke and husband Ryan | www.ashleybrookedesign.com
Shooting Ryan’s headshot to add to our about page and getting in his new business cards.

 

We spent the better half of 2016 getting our supply chain in order. It was time to move production to China, which was great since we knew NOTHING about product development in China. Remember, this is all just a Pinterest hack gone wrong. We learned everything by Googling incessantly and asking questions to anyone who would answer. We were less than prepared. That same year I landed a 360 deal with L’Oreal and I knew we were officially running two businesses.

 

Ashley Brooke in the L'Oreal League | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

 

my first shoot in L.A. with L’Oreal

Our days were spent working on the blog, shooting content, going over contracts, brainstorming ideas, and learning how to be a real full-time blogger. And our nights were Skyping with our factories in China, prepping our warehouses, and writing out marketing plans for the online shop. We stopped for nothing.

When 2016 came to a close we were exhausted to our core… and a little strung out on coffee. We loved what we were doing and we were FINALLY gaining real traction on both fronts. In January of 2017 we decided it would be the year of expanding in every direction. Our team grew, our product line up grew, our sku count grew, and our efforts behind the blog grew ten fold.

Ashley Brooke - New Products | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com
Ashley Brooke at the Daniel Richards Showroom | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com
Launching new SKUs & Showing in Atlanta at the Daniel*Richards Showroom

By July 2017 ABD was sold in over 700 stores nation wide and our blog was picking up speed so much that we were barely able to keep up with it. We were on the road for what felt like 100% of the time, bouncing from wholesale markets to blog travel. We lived in the Delta Sky Club lounge and would do just about anything for free wifi. It felt like we were in a very fast very exciting, movie that I never wanted to end!

 

up in the air - photos of clouds | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

the view from 30,000 ft 

In early August were getting the aching feeling that something big needed to change. Everything was going so well, we were busting at the seems on all fronts. We needed more space and a bigger team. We had grown our business on cash, only ordering what we could afford and hired the same way, which worked for us for a while. But we were at a crossroads. It was time to scale and scale up big. The blog was rockin’ and rollin’ yet the products demanded more, more, more!

We needed investment dollars to scale up and we were ready with pitch in hand. We met with potential investors, walked through retail spaces, and dreamed big but at every turn we both had a pit in our stomach. It didn’t feel right. But how could it not be right? We were confused, frustrated, and honestly I was downright mad. Everything was going so well, but why did we both feel so uneasy about our next steps?

That’s when we decided it was time to push the pause button and ask for God for some serious clarity. Doors started opening fast and furiously with the blog that month and while the products were still doing well, we continued to feel uneasy. We were beginning to place our holiday orders with China and I had new designs out for production. All signs pointed to go, but we knew it wasn’t the right decision.

After months of deliberation, prayer, and seeking wise counsel we decided it was time to wind down the product business and focus 100% of our attention on the blog that we had built together. We realized when we finally paused that we were in desperate need of rest and the freedom to focus on one thing. For years we were running two overly fulltime businesses. We knew it was time to stop, take a deep breath, and get back to the basics; the blog, the thing that started it all.

 

Ashley Brooke in NYC | www.ashleybrookedesigns.com

In NYC late September

We made this decision in the first week of October and we’ve been racing against the clock to re-launch our website before Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Have you ever built a website from scratch in a month?! Honestly I wouldn’t recommend it… but it has been one of the most fun months we’ve had in a long time. We are so excited and energized about this next season that we have barely been able to wait to get this out into the real world. Our branding, development, and overall look came to us so easily when we started re-designing and we knew, without a doubt, that we were doing the right thing.

So here we are, present day, with an all new but still very much the same ABD. Our hope is to take some time to really focus on this space and to be able to give you the very best of me here. To create content that is thoughtful, fun, interesting, and inspiring. And in the midst of it all get re-inspired myself. We are hopeful that this time will give us space to get refreshed and come back to create something new with fresh eyes and hearts. We have loved this crazy wild product ride but are far more excited about what we will be able to create together for you here on our new home. Our hearts are incredibly optimistic about the future and we already see God’s fingerprints all over this decision.

My hope is that you are just as excited as we are and will follow along on this next adventure!!

xo-

Ashley Brooke

 

Q&A

Below are a few questions that I thought I’d answer for you that I’ve already gotten this past month while telling friends and family about out exciting new business change. But if you have more questions feel free to comment below. I’m happy to answer as many as I can!

  1. You’re pregnant, aren’t you!?

HA! No. I am not, although that would be a very sweet ending to this blog post! One of these days I promise, but for right now we’re still pretending we are newlyweds. 😉

  1. Are you saying I can’t buy any ABD for Christmas?!

Actually you can! We won’t be bringing any new SKUs out this year or for the foreseeable future as of now, but we do have limited quantities of a few things left! The majority of our stock is completely sold out.

*Update* We are now completely sold out and will no longer be linking to the shop. If you ‘re looking for something in particular, you may find it at these retailers online or in stores: Waiting on Martha, AmazonMy Kind of Lovely, or  Swoozies.  

  1. So you are going to be a full time blogger?

Yes! Actually, I always have been! So really not much is changing there. The only thing that you can expect to see is better content from me since it will have my 100% focus.

  1. Are you sad? Do you miss the products?!

Oh my gosh, yes and no! I have already had the time to process, so more than anything I am so excited for the future. The future for the blog and what we will create next. Of course, I’m nostalgic, but change is good and I think this change will be great!

  1. What can we expect from you?

Well, my hope is that you will get a more consistent ‘me’ across the board. I will be sharing my favorite things, beauty and style tips along with Ryan’s amazing home DIYs. I’m planning on using this time to get re-inspired, refocused, and refine my design-craft. So hopefully you can expect to see some really REALLY good stuff.

  1. Are you still designing things?

Yes! I have a few studio clients that I am taking on each month. Right now I am in the middle of designing coffee mugs for a new coffee shop that will be opening later next year. So exciting, right?!

  1. Did you decide this because you were burnt out?

Yes and no. We joke that I could keep going forever and ever. I’m like the energizer bunny and I’m happy as long as I’m moving. But once we paused I realized that yes, I needed some time to get re-inspired. So a little bit of yes and a little bit of no…

  1. How excited are you about this next season for ABD?

SO. EXCITED.

48 Comments

  1. November 21, 2017 / 9:24 pm

    So proud of you sash! Exciting new chapter!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:00 am

      Thanks Carl!! Means the world! xx

  2. Kaitlin
    November 21, 2017 / 9:28 pm

    So happy for you, I love your blog! Can’t wait to see what’s ahead. Have a happy holiday season with some rest and relaxation!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:01 am

      Hi Kaitlin,

      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! We couldn’t be any more excited about this next season.
      xo

  3. November 21, 2017 / 9:52 pm

    How exciting for you both! It was nice reading your story. While I’ve followed you for some time, I’ve never really known the full story of your business. It’s very inspiring but at the same time really shows that it wasn’t an overnight success for you. It’s obvious that you put a lot of time and energy to get where you are now. Thank you for sharing and best of luck on your new full time venture in the blog-o-sphere.

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:05 am

      Vicky! Thank you so much for your kind comment, it means the absolute world. Definitely not an overnight success story, but one that should be told! When I wrote it out, Ryan looked at me and said “I can’t believe you’ve never written this down before”! Such a fun adventure. Thank you for your continued support! Ryan and I are so very thankful for you! You are the best!

      xo

  4. Anna
    November 21, 2017 / 9:55 pm

    So happy for you!!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:05 am

      Thanks Anna! We are so excited! xoxo

  5. Rachel
    November 21, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    I still have a few cards from your original stationary that I just love and am waiting for the perfect occasion to use❤. Crazy to see where ABD is now! I remember conversations with you in high school about you being worried about what you would study in college because you weren’t the “traditional” student. You were always meant to do something amazing and creative and beautiful and not “traditional” . So very excited for you Ashley!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:26 am

      Rachel! Hi!!! Thank you so much for your sweet message, and thank you for taking the time to write it. Means the world! Thank you for all of your love and support throughout the years. Hope to see you soon, friend! xoxo

  6. Prue
    November 21, 2017 / 10:22 pm

    Congratulations Ashley and Ryan on this new chapter, exciting times ahead! I first started reading your blog when I moved from Australia to Boston in 2008 and have followed it ever since. I loved that it gave me somewhere pretty to sit and enjoy as I was looking for work and making friends in a new country. I have since returned home to Australia but still enjoy my daily read of ABD 🙂

    I love that you have made this decision together and with so much love. Wishing you both continued success, I can’t wait to follow along and see what the world has in store for the two of you! 🙂 Prue x

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:24 am

      Prue! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment, it honestly means the world! I love that you’ve been a longtime follower, we couldn’t be any more thankful for you! Your love and support means the world! xoxo

  7. Kelsey Hayes
    November 21, 2017 / 10:36 pm

    Continued success to you and Ryan!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:20 am

      Kelsey, thank you for your sweet comment! We are so excited! xo

  8. Sarah
    November 21, 2017 / 10:54 pm

    This is so exciting! I’ve been a loyal ABD follower (and buyer) for some time now, and I’m so excited to see what’s to come in this new season

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:21 am

      Sarah! You are just the best! Thank you so much for your continued love and support throughout the years! Sending lots of love your way this morning!
      xoxoxoxo

  9. Kristen Ley
    November 21, 2017 / 11:48 pm

    So so proud of you for your courage and for listening to God. Love you, sweet friend!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:22 am

      Oh Kristen, that means the world coming from you. Thank you for taking the time to send this sweet message! Love you! xoxo

  10. Cheryl
    November 22, 2017 / 12:46 am

    Ashley! I have always wanted your mugs and have waited too long…not anymore! Just snagged some awesome items and so glad I did. Good on you for following your heart and looking to God for direction. I’ll continue to follow because you guys are awesome and make the day brighter! Enjoy this next chapter!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:23 am

      Cheryl! I’m so glad you snagged a few mugs.. they are so fun, you will love them! Thank you for your sweet comment and taking the time to write it! We are so excited for this next chapter. Thank you for following along!

      xo

  11. Ashleigh Chambers
    November 22, 2017 / 6:21 am

    So excited for y’all! What an amazing ride it has been for you both. We are so proud of you! Love you guys

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:20 am

      Ashleigh!!! Thank you! Love you! 🙂

  12. November 22, 2017 / 8:38 am

    How exciting! I look forward to your blog and Insta Stories each day. I also think pausing to listen to what God is telling you and Ryan is wonderful.

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:20 am

      Farrah! Thank you so much, and thank you for your sweet message! We are so excited for this next chapter and can’t wait to see what God has in store! Thank you for following along, it means the world.

      xo

  13. November 22, 2017 / 8:54 am

    Congratulations Ashley, I am so excited for you as you start this next chapter! I loved reading the story of ABD over the years and am so inspired but what you and Ryan have worked for! Sending lots of love and well wishes!

    Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:18 am

      Taylor! Thank you so much for your kind comment, honestly.. it means the world! So thankful for you and for your support. We couldn’t be any more excited for this next chapter. xo

  14. Bailey
    November 22, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Congratulations to you two! It is so inspiring to read the real-life back story behind all of your success. It gives me so much hope as a young professional trying to build my career that things always work out how they are supposed to and that you don’t have to do everything you think you “should.” Taking care of yourself and doing the right thing for YOU is always the best course.

    I’m snatching up some remaining products now! I’m going to miss them, but I can’t wait to see how y’all grow. XO

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:09 am

      Bailey!

      Thank you so much for your super thoughtful comment. It honestly means the world to me! Thank you for your love and support during this next season. Sending you a virtual hug this morning.
      xoxo

  15. November 22, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Ashley, I am tearing up at my desk! I am so excited and happy for you and this next journey. I have loved following you every step of the way. I still have some of your first paper products. I am loading up my cart as I type. I am a little sad to say goodbye to ABD products.

    xoxo,
    Lindsey

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 9:07 am

      Ah! Lindsey! You are the absolute sweetest! Thank you for your kind comment and for supporting ABD throughout the years. I hope this next chapter is as exciting as the last. Thank you for loving our brand so well!

      xoxo

  16. November 22, 2017 / 10:41 am

    Congratulations!!!! Many blessings and success for ABD!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:55 am

      Hi Jennifer! Thank you so much for your comment! We couldn’t be any more excited!
      xoxo

  17. Kbhembree
    November 22, 2017 / 11:03 am

    I totally just ordered the mistletoe mug, just in time for Christmas:) I loved reading the story of ABD, and congratulations on the new website! You guys are inspiring and I feel so lucky to know y’all 🙂

    Much love friends!

    Kristen Hembree

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:57 am

      Kristin!!! Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you scooped it up and thank you so much for your sweet comment! So glad New City brought us all together! See you soon, friend! 😉 xoxo

  18. November 22, 2017 / 11:51 am

    Sometimes we just need to slow down and recalibrate! You are a blessing to many!! have a wonderful thanksgiving with your family and I’m excited to see all you have in store for us in the future! Thanks for being so transparent! MUAH!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:58 am

      EXACTLY! Brooke, thank you for your sweet comment it means the world! xoxo

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:55 am

      Thanks Katie! We are too! Thank you for following along, it means the world!

      xo

  19. Kati
    November 23, 2017 / 12:27 pm

    It’s cool to see two businesspeople listening for and responding to God’s leading! You are an example to many. I am excited for where His voice will lead you!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:54 am

      Kati! Thank you, your comment means the world to us! We can’t wait for this next season and to see what God has in store! 🙂 xo

  20. Tammy S
    November 26, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    Love this post! Can’t wait to follow you two on the next part of your journey!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 27, 2017 / 8:50 am

      Thank you Tammy! You are so sweet!! xo

  21. November 27, 2017 / 4:00 pm

    I read this post a few days ago but never got the chance to comment! (Thanksgiving travel and an iPhone make commenting challenging!) I am so excited for you and this new phase for ABD. I cannot wait to see what you do with this blog and your branding. It’s been so fun following your journey the last few years.

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 30, 2017 / 1:35 pm

      Oh Shannon you are so sweet AND so kind to come back and comment. It means the world. We are so thankful for you and hope that this next chapter will be a really fun one! Thanks again, friend!
      xo

  22. Melissa
    November 27, 2017 / 5:53 pm

    So excited for you and Ryan!!

    I have been following you since 2008 and will continue always!!

    xoxo,
    Melissa

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 30, 2017 / 1:34 pm

      Hi Melissa! Thank you so much for your sweet comment and for being so encouraging! I hope this next season is as exciting as the last! xoxo

  23. November 29, 2017 / 9:04 pm

    I’m so excited for what the Lord is doing in your lives and so encouraged by you! Love you and so grateful to have watched your journey from the start!

    • Ashley Brooke
      November 30, 2017 / 1:32 pm

      Lara!! Thank you so much for your sweet comment, honestly it means the world! We are so excited for this next adventure and can’t wait to see what God has in store… fingers crossed it’s good! 😉 Love you, friend! xoxo

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