Those familiar with Fortress of Inca may recognize the phrase "One Walks Far." Starting today we are reaching out to the ladies of Fortress with #WeWalkFar to tell their story. Use this hashtag to share your experiences, get involved, and make a difference.
Influencer: Ashley Hargrove
1) Tell me about what inspires you to to kick ass every day. What goals and ambitions get you out of bed and keeps you moving forward even on the hardest of days? How do you shake the bad days and moments?
Everyday I wake up I always think how lucky I am to have been able to pursue my dream and have made it a successful business. That right there gets me inspired every single day. I know without my hard work and dedication I wouldn't be where I am today and I wouldn't be able to have this amazing schedule, job, friends, etc. It's definitely not all easy breezy as most people probably see on social media, I'm working constantly, 24/7, but I am able to be my own boss which make it worth it! There are times, as a stylist, where I will be booked solid for weeks and months (which is ideal!) but there are also times where I would have 2 months off, with absolutely 0 income coming in. Those times were the toughest because I would be at home, bored, wondering when my next job would come. Or wondering why people weren't hiring me. Did they find someone better? Did I make someone mad? And it would kill me! I'm in charge of making my income which pushes me to work even harder. But I would look at those times as a much needed break to go on vacation, visit my family, relax, sleep in, spend time with my dog and husband. These vacant times were what influenced me to start a blog! If you're optimistic about the hard times, something good is bound to come of it.
2) With the rising trend in Slow Fashion and the benefits to buying well-made, high quality products, have you noticed yourself becoming more aware of the design and production of the clothes you buy?
Since I began a career in Fashion, working for Neiman Marcus when I was getting my architecture degree, I became more conscious of why quality products were more valuable than something you would purchase from a store like Forever 21 or clothing from another country. Now, don't get me wrong, as a wardrobe stylist and part-time social influencer, less-expensive clothing will obviously sell better than something from Neiman Marcus or Barney's. Most ad agencies would rather me style people in lower end clothing if the clothing gets damaged anyway. In recent years I have tried to put a halt on my purchases or collaborations from companies overseas that use child-labor to produce clothing. I almost feel like I contradict myself in "real life" vs blogging though. In my day-to-day life, I will purchase well made clothing and accessories but for the blog I choose to wear and promote the more affordable clothing as that is what viewers seem to be more interested in and it's something that is more attainable to them.
3) What advice do you have for women pursuing a career in your industry? What roadblocks did you have to smash through to get where you are today?
Oh gosh, this could be a long one, but I'll try and keep it short. First, if you are trying to pursue a career in fashion, I would say GO FOR IT. There are so many people who want to be successful in the fashion industry but not everyone is cut out for what that entails so just know that if you work your ass off and do your research, you have a great chance of succeeding.
For me, breaking into the fashion industry seemed to be a whirlwind. I was working at an architecture firm when I realized the corporate life was definitely not my cup of tea. I researched and got a game plan together and started building a business from scratch. It essentially started out as personal styling but quickly evolved into more editorial wardrobe styling, which also wasn't really my style. After years of freelance work and networking I started working on the commercial and print advertising side, which is where I knew I wanted to be. To get to that point with no fashion background was extremely difficult. I wouldn't be where I am today without extensive networking, proving I could do the job at hand and multiple free jobs just to get commercial clients under my belt. Getting past the full year of working 80+ hours a week at 2 full time jobs was the easy part. Being 100% self-employed was another hurdle I had to jump and always work on, but that's a story for another time! ;)
4) Who has been one of the most inspiring and motivating mentors in your life? What have they done that has personally pushed you to keep going?
Surprisingly, I haven't really had a mentor. Growing up as an only child, I quickly learned how to be very self-sufficient and pursue my, sometimes random, creative dreams. Most times, I just dove right in not knowing much about the subject but was determined to succeed no matter what. I think my dad instilled this way of thinking in me as he always supported me and my self-employment decisions.