Creatives in Conversation: Ashley Gilbreath, Interior Designer
We are excited to launch a new blog series titled Creatives in Conversation! The mission behind this blog series is to introduce and celebrate fellow female creatives and entrepreneurs that also happen to be ExVoto clients.
Meet Ashley Gilbreath.
Ashley Gilbreath is one of those rare women who has accomplished much on her own, yet remains open to new people and new ideas. Ashley’s personal life story is beautiful and layered, much like her interior design work. Our Montgomery showroom is located in her former design studio space and I think that is what gives it that good juju. We are workplace neighbors in the historic district of Old Cloverdale and I have the privilege of being able to sit and visit with her every few years. I wish we could visit more often. We always enjoy finding ways we can collaborate together. She is open and ready for new things. We are kindred spirits in two different fields which intersect on the plane of beauty and design. In our recent visit, we sat down to lunch and caught up with what is happening in our family and work lives. We discussed the good and bad of seeing yourself reflected in your children. I diagnosed her (in my “expert” opinion) as a fellow 8 with me on the enneagram…and then introduced her to the enneagram. She is now as obsessed with the enneagram as I am. See what I mean, kindred spirits!
Elizabeth: “What is your background?”
Ashley: “I was born in Santa Monica, California then moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in elementary school. I moved from one LA to another! I went to Auburn University and started off in architecture and finished in interior design. After college, I spent some time in New York working for Richard Keith Langham. I then moved to Atlanta and I came kicking and screaming to Montgomery when I married my husband. I came to love Montgomery and the people here!”
Elizabeth: “What is your favorite part of your job?”
Ashley: “People. No questions asked. I of course love working with beautiful fabrics and elevating spaces to be the best they can be, but I love mostly seeing people happy with the end product I create for them. When I can nail the look they wanted, but didn’t know how to express, I’m so happy. I like getting to know my clients. You have to get to know them really well in order to design and plan spaces for them. I have to know where they put their keys when they walk in the door, where they like to store their toothbrush, what is on their nightstand, etc in order to best serve them. We become friends by the end of the process and my team and I are often sad to see projects wrap up because we know we won’t talk to this family every week anymore.”
Elizabeth: “What is the most interesting commission you have been given?”
Ashley: “That’s hard to say because we have had such a variety of commissions from a Tribeca loft, to the Mandarin Oriental in Atlanta. I would say the project we did for a Montgomery family was pretty great. They bought a new home and asked us to come in and renovate and furnish it. They wanted to move in with it all ready without having to make a bunch of little decisions along the way. They had the gist of what we were going to do, but that’s all. The Southern Living idea house was a pretty great project to work on, also. To be able to create your own dream. Although it had it’s stressful moments, too. I was nine months pregnant and, during a visit to the upholsterer, I realized the majority of the upholstery had not yet begun. It was just two weeks before the opening of the idea house and I had a fit. I almost had a baby in an upholstery studio!”
Elizabeth: “Where do you dream of your career taking you next?”
Ashley: “I would love to have more jobs in our work load that have us involved in the design and construction process from beginning to end.”
Elizabeth: “What is your advice to a 20 year old wanting to do what you do?”
Ashley: “I would advise them to be prepared that, in this industry, it all revolves around you. You have to run it all because the work is all your creative and conceptual work. No one else can replace you. You can’t hand it off entirely to someone else for a bit. I never get a day off. I didn’t get maternity leaves. I never took more than three days off after having a baby. I would also give the advice that the most important things in your life are really people. There are times I have to put a work project on the back burner for a minute because there are people in front of me that need me. We have grace with our clients when they have a momentary life interruption that needs their attention and we always hope they will extend us that same grace. Some days it’s just our turn to have a life interruption and those things can’t be planned.”
Elizabeth: “What are your favorite pieces of ExVoto?”
Ashley: “Well, I love the necklace I received one Mother’s Day. (The 14k Gold Elizabeth Adams Collection necklace with three French Pendants- Shop HERE) It has the initials of my three babies hand-engraved on the pendants. I wear the Lucy Bracelet in Natural and Gold often. I do love the Blessing Cuff which I wear almost everyday because it speaks to my heart. It is a great message for my children too, who are learning to read. My oldest daughter is learning about cursive writing and she is so proud that she can read my Blessing Cuff. I love that she is reading that message out loud!”
Learn more about Ashley and visit her website HERE.
Photos by Elizabeth Adams.