“Fake it ’til you make it” can be a polarizing statement. To some, it comes across as disingenuous, but at its heart, I believe in the message that sometimes, in order to realize your dreams, you have to go with the flow with blind confidence and say “yes” to things you know you’re not quite ready for. There’s power behind pushing your edge, and embracing discomfort as much as self-love.
After learning to sew at a young age, fashion designer Ashley R. Ryles received her BFA in Fashion Design from Miami International University of Art & Design and traveled the globe along the way, gaining bits of inspiration from her trips to France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and England. As a free spirit and lover of all things bold, her clothing line, Arryles, aims to empower the modern woman who doesn’t fear color and who appreciates her freedom to express herself.
But Ashley wasn’t always so confident and accomplished. For her, it took believing in herself and literally acting as the person she wanted to become to achieve her dreams. Today, Ashley is joining us to share some of her tips on the impact of speaking and acting like the person you want to become, and why your circumstances today shoudn’t impact what’s possible tomorrow. –Sabrina
Who Am I?
I am Ashley Renee Ryles and I’ve been chasing my vision since childhood. I’ve always loved to work with my hands. My mind was set on being a designer since I was in elementary school; I spent my weekends taking sewing classes at the age of 12. I’ve always enjoyed the process of design, going to the fabric stores and allowing the fabric to speak to me. It was fun to gather trims and notions while paying attention to all the small details going into the garment being sewn. As a child I was very shy, so this was my outlet. I took pride in knowing that a piece that I designed would be an icebreaker to start a conversation. I decided to go to school for design to gain formal training, and this experience ignited my vision of the endless possibilities within fashion design. Fast forward seven years, and after interning, fit modeling, working in retail, wholesale, and being an assistant designer, I felt I was ready to introduce my own clothing line to the world, Arryles. The brand name is my first initial, middle initial and last name.
I have learned over the past few years that it is important to dream bigger than your current circumstances. Doing this allows me to remain driven and focused. I have been able to appreciate my biggest moments of success to date by keeping the mindset of always dreaming bigger than the now. When I moved to New York, I was inspired by the fast pace and energy of those unwilling to be less than the best. Everyone seemed to be so passionate about his or her venture. I continuously told myself, “if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.” Cliché but true. I soon learned the journey would not be easy — but it would be well worth it. This became a true testament to the ups and downs of following my dream to become a designer. My goal has been to perfect and master one classic piece (the pencil skirt). Many American designers started with one piece before moving on to a full collection. This allowed me to focus on the quality and craftsmanship behind the brand.
Never Give Up
Through all of the great ideas and new discoveries I’ve had, there have been many moments when the learning process and small successes seemed to take an eternity to surface. But, truly, there is no easy or quick road to building your success story. It took me three seasons to perfect the Arryles skirt pattern, production, distribution, and marketing — and this learning experience was not free: it cost me time and money. Though these experiences have had a large impact on my journey, at times the burden was very heavy. I’ve learned that it is best to live in the moment of the good, because the next high point in your [journey] may often be cushioned by another setback or failure. Knowing that the process to becoming great can try your patience, I realized greatness only comes with an ability to weather both storms: wanting and quitting.
Who You Surround Yourself With
I remain inspired by constantly putting myself in an environment of successful and positive people. This circle isn’t always with people of like industries, but with individuals who add value and have the desire to remain positive along their journey. I am drawn to those with conviction who express their passion about what they do; I enjoy hearing the stories of others’ roads to success. This tendency to surround myself with good people keeps me in a humble mind frame knowing that everyone has a story and that success doesn’t happen overnight.
Further, I am also a firm believer that reading is not only informative, but allows you to hold better conversation in a circle of well-educated individuals. Being able to chat about current events and express yourself and your beliefs clearly is necessary for any circle you are in. I have also found that traveling abroad gave me a new perspective and exposure to different cultures. The key to success is enriching your viewpoint.
The Invisible Mentor
In addition to finding inspiration through positivity, travel, and likeminded company, not knowing who’s watching your every move from the sidelines can be a source of inspiration. I truly believe that we are all an inspiration to someone. There is someone out there that hasn’t started his or her journey, or whom is seriously considering quitting. This individual might be watching your step-by-step moves and each victory you experience.
I only realized this when it happened to slap me in the face. Out of nowhere and to my surprise, Essence Magazine’s marketing team reached out to me and wanted to feature me in their September 2015 issue. This was one of the most memorable moments to date in my design career. Prior to getting the Essence call, I was contemplating pushing back a little to reanalyze and restructure the business (the long-version excuse for quitting), but I’m so glad I didn’t. This moment gave me a much-needed boost in my confidence and willingness to continue the journey of Arryles. This experience proved to me that someone is always watching. I am humbled to think of myself as an invisible mentor. I am truly touched if my journey inspires someone to keep going when they hear a small voice saying “quit.” If I have inspired you, know you have also inspired me. Keep going. We all have something to give.
Create Your Own First Impression
In addition to all that I have learned along this journey, one very important jewel is learning how to be seen without even being heard. Your presentation from the outside must be fearless. Your confidence has the power to command attention and respect until you choose to speak. I often carry myself in a way to resemble the person I want to become. In my mind, this person is fun, passionate and driven. This person is also successful. It is a fire-tested version of me. When you carry yourself in this way, people want to meet you and hear what inspired you to create and design. Confidence is like a magnet — people are attracted to it. Furthermore, I realized that you do not have to be adorned in the [most] expensive attire, but a sense of style and a good eye for quality can go a long way.
These are just a few practices that I have learned on my continuous journey to being an American designer, and I truly hope these few key points inspire you to continue the course! Remember, there are no shortcuts. Whatever it takes, you are worth it.