I have been working closely with Ashley Johnson on a lot of things, and most of you are aware of my love for her photography and her eye for unique and beautiful things. I mentioned in earlier posts, how I loved her simple and clean aesthetic. Since then, I have had the pleasure of having her beautiful photography on my blog in recent posts such as “something new: the tavern.” “NBTF,” and the latest “10.10.15.” You can check out more of her amazing photos on her VSCO site at ashleydo.vsco.co. Not only is she an awesome photographer, but she is an excellent writer, so much so that she has been guest writing as well as assisting in editing my blog (along side my mother). When creating my magazine, editing my blog, or simple camera questions I would hit her up. Why? Because creative talents have no limits.
Her newest venture is her brand Fort Lily. I have watched her put it together and paid attention to every detail that goes into building her brand. Not only that, but I actually love her coats! When she pulled out a few to choose from for styling our models, I tried on a few and claimed them as mine already for fall! Bright Sunday morning as we prepared for the photo shoot we released yesterday, watching models get dressed and fitted for their coats, Ashley begin to tell a us a little about her brand and what we can expect from it.
| “My items are re-shopped—and I’m honest about that. So I have to beef up the security I have with the items I’m re-distributing by making sure that not just my items are made with integrity, but my business as well.”
Who is Lily, and why did you name your brand after her?
Lily was my grandmother. Aside from being just a great woman, one of the things I remember best about her is that she believed in me so selflessly. She valued my ideas, celebrated even my tiniest accomplishments and always nurtured different parts of me I didn’t have much confidence in. I support other women in that same way—especially at work. I honestly don’t know what type of woman I’d be if I didn’t have that sort of genuine love behind me. So I throw my support behind other women who are building things to encourage them to keep trying the way my grandma did for me.
What about “fort” what does that mean in relation to your brand, and how does it all tie together?
A Fort is a stronghold—a safe place. I wanted to build something I didn’t find in my city and that was a “safe place” for like-minded women who needed a place to express themselves creatively around women like themselves. What’s “weird” for someone might be art to someone else. I’m not just selling a product, but I’m cultivating the idea that competition is divisive, and collaboration is progressive. Each Fort Lily release is the product of a fun and creative collaboration with other excellent women who are strong, hardworking and creative just like me. It’s how I fulfill myself as both a creative and a businesswoman.
|“Instead of keeping the experience of finding a great one-off to myself, why not share? Fort Lily is my way of shopping for everyone that asks me where I get my clothes.”
Do you have a favorite brand?
Not a favorite clothing brand, but I’m inspired by brands that are done well. Mast Brothers chocolate and Kinfolk Magazine are some of my favorite brands. A brand I respect immensely is called Everlane. They pride themselves on something called radical transparency. For Everlane, radical transparency means you know exactly what you’re paying for and WHY. Each item has a cost model that shows you this, and I know of no other brand that does it.
So why did you choose outerwear?
I love cold weather clothing. So it just made sense to focus on my favorite things. People always ask me where I find the things I buy for myself, and when I tell them they immediately say “oh I don’t have the patience to look through all that.” I totally get it, but I have the patience, and it feels so good to find something cool no one else is wearing. Instead of keeping the experience of finding a great one-off to myself, why not share? Fort Lily is my way of shopping for everyone that asks me where I get my clothing.
Every item under the Fort Lily brand is thrifted. Do you consider yourself a vintage or thrift shop?
Not exactly. To separate myself from others like me I don’t use the words “vintage” or “thrift” to define Fort Lily—even though thrifting is the process. In turn, I don’t hide the fact that the items are being resold. I also shy away from large name brands to find more distinctive pieces which creates a more exclusive shopping experience.
What does your brand have that other shops don’t?
Branding. Fort Lily releases in a series of seasonal and carefully curated/themed collections. A lot of the shop-and-resell shops I see on the internet simply buy up a bunch of items place them on a mannequin or on a white backdrop, take a few photos, and resell them. It’s like fast-food fashion, and it profitable, but great business is all about a great quality product and excellent presentation.
| “I’m not just selling a product, but I’m cultivating the idea that competition is divisive, and collaboration is progressive. Each release is the product of a fun and creative collaboration with other excellent women who are strong, hardworking and creative just like me.”