Ashley and her husband Willy have frequent conversations about life, their jobs, passions and how each of these interact with one another. Sometimes working for the man takes a toll. They both have had times throughout their careers where they have wondered if they chose the right path and have been enticed by what another path may offer. I think this is only normal. Ashley felt complete when she started her photography business and she loves doing it in conjunction with her career in nursing because they both offer her different things that she needs and wants out of life. Seeing how much joy having a creative outlet has brought her, led to a discussion with Willy on doing things outside of their careers. They wanted something that would allow them to use another part of their brain and get their hands dirty; work that doesn’t feel like work, if you will. And with that, The Bee & The Fox was born. It’s a collaborative effort between the two of them (and Janet, who has put together some wonderful designs for the site) and it has come together beautifully in both theory and reality. It’s the first project they have worked on together, aside from raising their boys, and having something that they can share excitement and pride in has been extremely fulfilling for them.
PM: When was your company founded and where are you based?
A: We opened our shop toward the end of 2014. We are based in Southern California in a sleepy-ish beach town called San Clemente.
PM: How many are involved in your company?
A: If you could see the mess on and around my desk the answer would clearly be “not enough”. But really, we’re a two-person-run shop; those two people being my husband and I. We also work with a designer and a local printer, who are without a doubt essential to our operation.
PM: What inspired you to start your company?
A: You know when you get a bug up your butt and you just have to itch? Well, my butt was really scratchy. And I suppose raising two boys and not really liking what I saw available in the boys departments set something in motion. Then it took on it’s own mold and grew beyond that.
PM: Did you have a background in business prior to starting your company?
A: Hardly. I actually have two bachelor degrees; one in Humanities and one in Nursing. I work very part-time as a Registered Nurse. I also work as a wedding, family, and lifestyle photographer. I suppose I’m most comfortable wearing multiple hats. My husband does have a Masters in Business, but let’s be real, what you learn in school means nothing until you’re out in the world doing it. We’re really figuring it all out as we go, which truthfully has been a joy.
PM: Did you run into any problems or resistance while launching?
A: I can’t say we had many expectations. It was a slow start, I suppose. Inch by inch, day by day. It’s been fun to watch it grow.
PM: How do you get the most out of your day?
A: Oh gosh, I’m still figuring out how to get anything other than three solid meals out of my day. Though I do follow a small to-do list that I write the night before, with a list of tasks I hope to finish the following day. All the things on the list rarely get completed, but I like seeing a visual list of things I have accomplished (isn’t crossing things off the best feeling?) and things I still have to complete.
PM: How is your family apart of your business choices?
A: The other day my oldest son, who is 4, walked into my office and was taken back by the pile of packages he saw. He quickly jumped into the center of them and they all went flying everywhere. That’s the extent of the business choices he makes. My husband helps a lot with shipping and, at times, begrudgingly, folding. He also gives his input on design from time to time. We make all the big decisions together.
PM: What music inspires you?
A: You’re opening a big can of worms. Music is my jam. I’ve never felt so passionate about something that I, myself, have no talent in. No one would ever pay to hear me sing and despite growing up as a competitive gymnast and using my body in all sorts of ways, I can’t fathom how fingers move on the guitar. I love songs that force you feel. I’m always inspired by sad music, which may seem odd to some. But I really enjoy feeling. A few of my favorites are “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin, “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain” by Willie Nelson, “Trouble” by Cat Stevens, “Crucify Your Mind” by Rodriguez, “Yellow Ledbetter” by Pearl Jam, “The Long Way Home” by Tom Waits, “Love Is All” by The Tallest Man On Earth, “Don’t Think Twice” by Bob Dylan… I could go on forever and ever. Music has gotten me through the hardest times in life, helped me sail through the best of times, and still held meaning for every step in-between.
PM: What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
A: Travel. Before having kids, my best friend and I traveled everywhere — India, Egypt, Thailand, Morocco, Malta, Guatemala, Belize… to name a few. I worked as an au’pair in France for a summer for a fantastic family that I still hold dear to my heart. My husband and I traveled a lot before having kids, too. We’ve been to Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Cuba. We have yet to take the boys international, but I’m hoping to change that toward the end of this year. And I’m all for local trips, too. We head out to the desert often and visit family that live out-of-state frequently.
I also enjoy maintaining my personal blog, which is a labor of love I keep up both for myself – because I enjoy writing – and for my boys, who I hope will enjoy looking back on it all one day.
A: Is it a bad business model if I admit that I have no such thought? I really enjoy taking it day by day and letting the path pave itself.
Visit The Bee & The Fox on ETSY and use the code TENOFF for 10% off a minimum purchase of $25 or more, expires on 10/31/15.