As my 'About' page has briefly told you, I trained as a Fashion Designer specialising in Printed Textiles achieving a First Class Honors from the University of Northampton. I found it really difficult to sustain interning in London after my degree, and even though I loved developing my skills and creativity, I moved back home and started working full time at a marketing firm in Nottingham.
I guess it was years before I even thought about pursuing anything creative again. Many of my friends from University had managed to secure successful jobs in our chosen field, and I was so incredibly proud of them, but I just accepted that it clearly wasn't something that would happen for me. The practical side of your brain kicks in, and you work to earn money, and the vicious cycle of the corporate world sucks you in. I'll admit it, after working for free, the concept of earning money was a lot more appealing to me at 21 than doing something I loved. Doing something you love every day is reserved for a lucky few, and that's just the way it goes, right?
Marketing and project management suited me. I worked hard, and the constant pressure I put on myself to give 100% effort through fear of not being good enough forced that hand. I wanted to get promoted, I wanted to earn more money, and be seen to be progressing. I'd been there for about 5 years on and off (throughout University too), and by some miracle I'd managed to build my confidence up so high that when a job opportunity came knocking for a Category Manager role, I took it! I got the job. Me! The girl who had two years of maths tutors during her GCSEs was now getting paid to do data analysis and be known as the 'numbers girl'!! If you'd have told me when I was at University that my career would do a 180, I would never have picked maths and statistical analysis - ever.
However, I hadn't really prepared myself for the prospect of what a new job meant. I'm an exceedingly introverted person. The thought of meeting new people, and being put on the spot in meetings and giving presentations is enough to send me into an anxiety spiral. Never mind actually doing it! They say it usually takes 6 to 18 months to be completely settled in to a new role. Well, after 2 months I was so frustrated with myself that I didn't know everything already! Some of my colleagues had been doing this job for years, but in my head I should have been at their level. In my eyes I must not have been working hard enough. Having suffered with anxiety before, I decided to go to counselling to help me cope with work, but it only got worse.
After suffering a breakdown in March of this year, and being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I was given one month off work to recover. One of the things the doctors tell you to do during this time is to do what you love. To not worry whether you're seen to be out doing fun things whilst you're 'signed off sick' and that doing whatever will bring you joy is what will help you get better. For me, it was like an instant weight off my shoulders to not be in that environment anymore. What was initially this horrible daily experience, was now an opportunity to actually assess what it is that truly makes me happy.
My mother is a very creative person, and works as a textile artist, sewing teacher, and all around stitching superhero. She was, and still is, my rock and guided me towards doing something creative. Whatever I felt like doing. Just anything that would contribute to my recovery. I chose painting. She bought me an easel, some canvases and paints. I hadn't painted since my final year at university and it seemed like a lifetime ago since I picked up a paintbrush. It wasn't until I woke up one morning at 5am and sprang out of bed to finish one of my canvases (pictured below), that I realised this is what it truly feels like to do something you love. It wasn't about money, or pleasing people, or trying to get a promotion. It was a completely raw moment of loving what you're doing, in the exact moment you're doing it, and I hadn't felt like this since university.
© 2017 Edie Rosie Ashley - The finished '5am' painting .
I continued to paint, draw, practice calligraphy and paint furniture, for no other reason than to spend time being happy. My one month of recovery soon came to a close, and I still wasn't any better. My creativity was the only thing keeping me sane, and the thought of going back to work terrified me. I felt like I was back where I started again. I was given another month off sick, and during that time I actually spent my days thinking what I wanted to do with my life. What did I want from it? What did I want each day to look like? As cliche as it sounds, it makes you think, if today was my last day, how would I want to spend it? Now don't get me wrong, I have no issues with the corporate world, some people thrive on it, and that's great. I just knew in these moments that it wasn't who I was. It wasn't making me happy.
It was the beginning of May when I handed my notice in at work. I didn't even know what my next steps were, or whether I was going to start a business or not. My sole focus at that point in my life was to just take the time to breathe. Breathe, and take the moment in. It was at this point that I started psychotherapy. I've been every week since the summer and I could not recommend it more. It has saved me, and made me a better person, and I don't think I would be in this position right now if it wasn't for therapy. It's taught me that it's okay to not want to get out of bed some days, and that there are numerous things that can happen to us in our lives that can build up and be the reason behind why we behave or react a certain way. Yet this is all something we have learned, like a habit, and can be changed. We can learn to behave differently, to react differently, and to treat ourselves better. As dark as my life has been for the majority of this year, I will be forever grateful for the person it has made me today.
Edie Rose Ashley was in its earliest stage at around May time, after I quit my job. A part of me knew that I wanted to do this full time, but I was unsure how I was going to make it happen, and I certainly didn't have the name Edie Rose Ashley at that point. Believe me, I've spent months trying to figure out a name. It is without a doubt one of the hardest decisions to make when starting a business! All the books I've read say not to think about it too much, but as always, I obsessed over it! I had toyed with using my real name 'Rosie Ashley', but for some reason it didn't feel right. I wanted this to be a new chapter and with it I wanted a new name. Now, if you've ever seen the documentary 'Grey Gardens', you'll have a little bit more of an idea as to where Edie came from. My mum and I are obsessed with Little Edie and Mother Darling, to the point where, since university, that is what our names have been in each others phones. Little Edie is almost like my alter ego. The woman who dances around the house in headscarves wearing eccentric clothes, and lives in a derelict old house with her mother with racoons in the walls. This is who my mum and I aspire to be when we're old. True story. I mean who wouldn't, right?
I guess what I love about Edie is how care free she is. They live in their own little world, and there is something so innocent and raw about them. It was exactly how I wanted to live (aside from the whole derelict house/racoon situation), and I knew it was a perfect fit for the new path I was starting. It was something personal, for me, and that is what I needed. I think it also gave me a sense of confidence to move forward with my business. I needed something to push me to take the next step and Edie helped me do that.
This one is for Edie.