We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Catharine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
The concept for Chouette Designs was born while I was selling jewelry in a high end department store. I was tired of telling customers who share my same ring and bracelet sizes that they would have to wait 4-6 weeks to special order items in their size. On top of that, they’d have to pay a premium before ever even trying the piece on. I knew there was a better way of doing business that wouldn’t alienate so many shoppers that just wanted to spend their money. It didn’t hurt that I also had a design background, and a plus size fashion blog that connected me to many of our future customers.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Gemstones inspire much of what I create. A lot of jewelers stick to diamonds, and I think diamonds are wonderful, but there are so many other stones I can’t wait to introduce people to. Our very first client reached out to me looking for a sapphire engagement ring for her partner, and a salt and pepper diamond engagement ring for herself. I could not think of a better brand origin story- two stones that are very different and unique, but that ended up matching so perfectly together. Jewelry has such sentimental value and always tells such personal stories. I hope to be able to tell the stories that have frequently been left out of the mainstream with my designs.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
There is so much to do in San Diego, and I’m discovering new spots all the time! If you came to town to visit and had never been here before I would take you to Liberty Station for a meal in their food hall and some window shopping after. We’d do the 7 bridges walk through the city, and people watch in Balboa park. Then go for a beach day on Coronado Island, and later take the ferry into downtown for dinner somewhere in Little Italy. At some point I’d take you to Louisiana Purchase for brunch or dinner, and Polite Provisions for drinks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife deserves so much recognition for helping me start this business. She is far more skilled with budgets and numbers than I am, and she’s always been so incredibly supportive and motivating. My business mentor, Christina also deserves a shout out for the countless hours she spends answering my questions and giving me feedback. The jewelry industry can feel so old school and secretive, and it’s been so crucial to connect with like minded people who don’t view your existence as a threat, but as healthy competition.
Instagram: @itsashleycatharine, @chouettedesigns
Other: Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ChouetteDesignsUS