This week is flying by and if you have missed any of this weeks Sisters, you can meet Faith, Alana and Tamara by clicking their names! Also, a reminder that you can enter the giveaway at any point this week to win a collection of amazing gifts!
I need to toot a lil’ horn here for a second before we get started with Day 4’s Talented Sister! When reviewing my Stat’s for all time, my most viewed post is Reese’s Minnie Mouse Party. The 3rd item posted in the picture is a shirt that today’s Sister, Stephanie made for me! Cool huh!??!
Say hello to Stephanie! She’s a tough cookie! She is the talent behind Ashlyn Grace Designs!
1. When you were a late teen, early 20's Red Raider, what was your original career ambition? Major?
I originally wanted to be a genetic counselor. I was fascinated with genetics and wanted to learn more. My major was Biology and my first semester I took all the science classes I needed to reach my goal. I remember sitting in the office of one of the professors as he was trying to push me into not taking so many difficult classes. I should have listened. I started failing and ended up changing my major to merchandising. I was so heart broken. I felt like a failure and that I was giving up on my dream.
2. What did you expect when you joined a sorority? Did you envision that these women would still be a part of your life today?
I did not know what to expect when joining a sorority. I did not know much about Greek life and a friend actually talked me into going through rush. If it was not for that one friend, I would not have rushed. I remember going through rush and I immediately knew I would love the axo girls. I felt like I belonged. When you go through rush and become a part of a sorority you cannot possibly imagine your future and how these girls will be there for you. I have had several events in my life when I needed them. I am an only child so I do not have brothers or sisters and I have truly leaned on my axo sisters for support. The first big event when my sisters were there for me was at my wedding. The second big event in my life was when I received the news that I was having triplets. I was immediately put on bed rest. Each day one of my sisters would send me a care package. I cannot even describe how much that brightened my day. The third and most recent major event in my life was the loss of my mom. My sisters were at my mom’s funeral and sent me dinners each day. One of my sorority sister’s had lost her father a few years back. Her father was put on life support and eventually lost his battle to cancer. My mom was also put on life support so she understood all the issues with the doctors and what I was going through.
3. When did you meet your husband? Tell us about your family/children.
I met my husband at work. It was a startup internet company in Austin, Texas. All the employees were in the mid to late 20's and it was a fun environment. One day, I made four sales and I received this email from some guy named Albert congratulating me on my success. This guy eventually became my husband. On February 14th, everyone lost their jobs and the company closed their doors. This guy Albert asked me if I wanted to go hang out. I said yes and a few of us went out. Our relationship started off as friends. One night the friendship turned into a kiss and we started dating. We dated for about a year and then got engaged. On April 12, 2003 we got married. We decided we wanted to have children. On our one year anniversary April 12, 2004 we found out I was pregnant. I had a really hard pregnancy not understanding why until 18 weeks into the pregnancy we found out we were having triplets. On October 19, 2004 our family grew from 2 to 5. I had one daughter and we named her April and two boys, Dylan and Daniel. When we first married, we thought about having maybe two children not knowing we would be blessed with triplets and then five years later we were blessed on Christmas Eve with another daughter Brooklyn.
4. When did you decide on your craft? Was there a milestone in life that opened the doors to this or has it been a part of you?
Having triplets is truly what started my craft. When the triplets were born, I wanted to have their names embroidered on blankets and towels and could not find anyone in my area to do the embroidery. I immediately realized there was a need for this service and jumped into learning everything I could about embroidery. I bought a huge machine, the Melco Amaya that has 16 needles and went to Colorado for several days of training. I wanted to embroider corporate logos on tees and polo’s. After receiving my training, I started doing shirts for my husband’s company and other friends who had businesses. My husband has always been the one to support me and encourage me. The next huge milestone that led to what I do now was my daughter Brooklyn's first Birthday. I wanted something unique for her to wear so I made her a brown dress with a pink owl holding a Birthday balloon. With her dress I made a matching birthday hat. I put her Birthday photos online and that is when I started getting request for Birthday dresses and long-alls. Two years later I now have over 60 different dress designs.
5. What was the hardest part about starting your business? If you were to go back, what do you wish you had done differently to start out?
The hardest part about starting my business was learning the machine and the different techniques and finding a way to make an income after learning the machine. I have made several mistakes in my business and if I could start over I would have done some things differently however at the same time these mistakes are what build you and make you stronger. All of my mistakes have cost money. I always put the cart before the horse and I always think big instead of taking baby steps to get there. The most important part of starting a business is to start small and see if your ideas sell.
6. What kinds of things inspire you? Is it a song, a picture or a late night dream?
My biggest inspiration is my customers. They let me know what they are wanting and then I design it. They tell me colors that I would never put together and it looks great. I work on projects that pull me in a direction that I would never do on my own. My projects and most of my designs are created with the help of the customers who have a certain theme they are working on.
7. What is the best reaction you have ever had to your products with customers?
I have had a lot of great reactions and this is what keeps me going. The last reaction was from Facebook and she said "By the way I searched and searched for the perfect outfit....couldn’t find it until I happen to Google search look who’s turning tutu set and yours pulled up! Then went through a few more steps to find you in hopes you'd still make it! Now that’s a compliment!! Anyway, thanks a lot. I’m excited!"
This is another review I received “I don't know what my granddaughter would have done without the wonderful clothes Ashlyngracedesign made for her! Stephanie is wonderful to work with and tries so hard to please. Her things are great quality and so unique. I can't praise her enough. She is a real "find"."
I love receiving the compliments. It is really hard to put something you designed out there for everyone to see. Part of it is fear of failing, but you have to and eventually the fear fades away.
8. How has 'sisterhood' had an impact on your success?
My sisters have always been there for me and they have always shared my products on blogs or through Facebook. It has always been my AXO sisters who have lifted me.
9. When you aren't being creative and crafty, what is a typical day like for you?
I have a really busy life with four children and a husband who travels a lot. I spend the day with my toddler doing fun activities and then I run my eight year old triplets around to dance, football, baseball and cheer depending on what season we are in. I stay really busy being a mom. Sometimes I do not have time to be creative because I am so busy filling orders and then someone will want something different and this is when I have to find the time to be creative and it works out great.
10. Aside from your day to day life, and your business, is there anything else you are passionate about that you want to raise awareness about?
I think throughout life our passion can be created due to experience. I am passionate towards March of Dimes. I had three babies that spent over a month in the NICU and my little girl at one point weighed only 1lb 6oz. She was a little thing. March of Dimes is there to support the families going through hard times. March of Dimes helps educate and inform families what to expect. My new passion is Chrone’s disease and heart disease. A year ago I lost my mom to a heart attack. My mother was 62 years old and was at a point in her life were she could enjoy her grandchildren and travel and do the things she wanted since retirement. When I was around the age of 7 my mom had chrons disease. Chrons disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Inflammation can lead to a variety of symptoms. Over 500,000 people in America have this disease. Back then, doctors were not that familiar with the disease and she went through several surgeries to get rid of the part of her intestines that were infected. This disease is not curable and eventually it will cause issues with the liver and heart. Not only did my mom suffer from this horrible disease but I also have a pledge sister with Chron's disease. My pledge sister is frustrated that there is not enough research or funding to help find a cure for Chrons. I want to help raise awareness. People can have this disease and not know it. I believe Chron's disease is what led to my mom's heart attack. It was a doctor at Baylor heart hospital that informed me that Chrons disease typically causes liver or heart failure. I am also passionate about the heart foundation because it is the number one killer in women. My mother started having heart problems a year before her heart attack. She went to several doctors and had a lot of various test done only for them to decide it was indigestion. My last conversation with my mom was about her going to the doctor again about her heart. She never made it to that appointment. Instead my mom sat in bed thinking she had indigestion for three hours before going to the hospital. Based on my mom's experience, I think it is important to continue to educate women on the signs of a heart attack.
11. You are very creative and talented in your own craft, but is there something you wish you knew how to do, that you just don't right now?
I would like to learn how to build furniture. I would love to make some nice book shelves or patio furniture. This is something I might try to do when my toddler starts school.
Stephanie is giving away a $25 Credit to her Facebook Listings!! Enter Now to get all of this weeks gifts!
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