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Meet Ashley Hayes of Asher Market in Santa Barbara

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Hayes.

Ashley, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I graduated from Northwestern Law School in 2009 and instantly knew that I’d find myself miserable working permanently in that field. When I moved to Santa Barbara after school, I began to develop a hobby of sewing various textiles and selling them on the side. Eventually, I formed a company with my sister Erin ( Ash + Er = Asher) and we pivoted our handmade business to designing and importing alpaca blankets from Peru. For many years, I worked in contracts at tech companies in Santa Barbara and used all my vacation time traveling to cities throughout the US for shows for Asher Market, dreaming of the day when Asher Market could be my full-time career. In 2015, I worked up the courage to quit my full-time job and focus on my creative endeavors while pregnant with my first child. I had always dreamed of having a business run from home when I had kids and the time seemed right though it was certainly very scary.

After my daughter was born, I wanted her to have math clothing to balance out all of her princess clothing. I wanted her to feel empowered, intelligent and capable! I couldn’t find anything I liked so I decided to start my own children’s clothing line, Asher Baby, with my black and white math print hoping that there would be others who appreciated the math line. Very quickly, my math print became my best-selling item, effectively pivoting Asher Market from being a home decor brand to being a lifestyle brand for the whole family. In 2019, I opened our flagship store on State Street in Santa Barbara, shifting my stay-at-home-mom hobby into the full-time job I always wanted Asher Market to be.

Has it been a smooth road?
Anytime you own your own business, there are going to be struggles! From figuring out logistics of how to set up and run your company to figuring out how to make money and everything in between. The first struggle I remember was how to make money year-round when Asher was a home decor brand. It’s hard to sell alpaca blankets when it’s hot out! When my sister left the company to pursue other creative interests, we struggled to find a smooth transition both personally and professionally as I went from having a partner to being the sole leader for the brand – it’s hard to do everything yourself! And that still continues to be my main struggle – being the only one making everything happen! Fortunately, I have an amazing employee in the store who helps me handle a bunch of logistical items and that’s been a big game changer! So thankful for her!

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Asher Market – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I design a full line of alpaca based products including throws, ponchos and scarves. I purposely use a custom alpaca blend yarn that’s machine washable… I’m a mom, I like to travel and, at the end of the day, I like to be able to wash everything in my house. This is huge selling point and a highlight of my brand that sets me aside from others in the market. On the Asher Baby side, I am known not only for my math print but also my large selection of gender neutral children’s clothing. While I print some of my own fabric, I love reusing fabric that’s been discarded by others in an effort to use what’s already there. I love going to Peru and shopping the remnant fabrics there to create a larger collection of children’s clothing that is boutique/small-batch and unique. I work with small family manufacturers to make all of my things so when you buy from me, you impact not only my family but the families I work with as well. When I travel to Peru, I also buy all the alpaca/llama stuffed toys and those are a big seller in the store. I’m definitely known as the Llama Store in Santa Barbara – I call it my Alpaca Adoption Center and take everyone’s adoption photos when they purchase one in the store.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I love the small town feel that Santa Barbara has to offer, the beaches, the mountains and hiking trails. Well and obviously the weather. Life here is slower than in big cities and the views are beyond fabulous. The things I miss about living in a big city are diversity, having a plethora of amazing food options and nightlife/concert venues.

Pricing:

  • Throws are $160
  • Ponchos are $180
  • Children’s Clothing ranges from $12-48
  • Alpaca/Llama Toys range from $22-$95

Contact Info:

  • Address: 535 State Street
    Santa Barbara, CA 93101
  • Website: www.ashermarket.com
  • Phone: 8053642008
  • Email: hello@ashermarket.com
  • Instagram: @ashermarket
  • Facebook: @ashermarket

Image Credit:
Kristen Jordan Photography

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