Ashley Hargrove is the style guru and blogger behind the popular fashion blog, @dtkaustin. Aside from blogging, she also works as a wardrobe stylist and contributes to several magazine columns. Ashley proves that you can curate your own career out of your passions. Read on to discover more about her style advice, juggling social media and her journey in the world of fashion.
Hi, Ashley! Please introduce yourself and your story.
I grew up always wanting to be an architect. I helped my father build and renovate multiple houses to flip and fell in love with all aspects of design. I set a goal to graduate high school in 3 years and to pursue my dream of being a successful architect. College took a lot longer than I had expected, but I emerged with a degree in Business Management and Architecture. As luck had it, I ended up graduating in 2008 when the market tanked. I started looking for jobs in cities close to Fort Worth and quickly found an architecture firm in Austin that was hiring. After the headache of moving and starting a new life, I was working at a firm with full-force -- 50-60 hours a week. I quickly learned that having a job where I was confined to a desk was not for me, especially in a city like Austin. After working at the firm for about a year, I started brainstorming what else I could potentially do without having to start completely over with an entry level position at yet another desk job. It finally dawned on me -- I am fantastic with customer service and have an amazing eye for fashion! My interim years from high school through college were spent working at Neiman Marcus helping with personal shopping, getting paid minimum wage. There was no way I was going back into the retail world, but thought to myself, "I know fashion, I'm great with people, and I can start a business inspiring people to dress better".
It seems like you wear many hats when it comes to your job. Can you share what they are and which aspect is your favorite?
When I started my company, I mainly focused on the personal styling side of things. At the time, I was married to a professional musician who had put me in touch with quite a few record labels all over the US so I started styling bands for music videos and promo material. That eventually evolved into doing more editorial work, which turned into print and commercial advertising styling. I travel all over the US for commercial jobs. Some jobs, I will have upwards of 50 talents where each will need at least 15 outfit options that actually work. That includes clothing, shoes, jewelry, accessories, etc. In addition to all of that type of work, which I still do, I have a monthly column in a couple of magazines, and I also have a blog! I love it all because with each of these different jobs, I get to meet and work with new people every single day. I haven't been tied to desk in over seven years, and I love it!
How do you juggle work, your blog and social media?
I have no life! Since I started blogging again, my free time is extremely limited. Don't get me wrong, I love blogging, and it is such a fun hobby to have. Since I have been monetizing my blog and Instagram, I have had to start looking at the process as a job at times. Companies reach out, send you contracts, expect specific content, captions, etc. in hopes that you provide the reach they are expecting in return. That gets stressful! If I'm on set for 10+ hours a day on a big wardrobe styling job, I am not able to post as much as I normally would as opposed to when I have a day dedicated to blogging. I have to shoot more content in anticipation so I can schedule posts ahead of time. Then, once I bet back from the set, I spend a couple of hours going through social media and interacting so I don't have to miss an entire day. The blogging side is tougher when I'm on set for days at a time, but I make it work! I have a VERY supportive husband who supports me and my career fully! He's even my photographer! :)
Let's talk about style.
- Describe your style: My style is more on the edgy side, yet very minimal. You wouldn't guess that from my Instagram feed since I try to show a variety of styles, but I love classic skinny jeans, heels, and a statement piece --whether it's a handbag, jewelry, or shoes.
- Go-to pieces: Currently, you will always see me in my black leggings from Zara, a black tank, leather jacket and lace-up heels with a classic bag or tote.
- Advice for someone who is trying to simplify their closet? I tell people to think of their closet as an extended capsule wardrobe. These types of wardrobes aren't for everyone, but I suggest still keeping a few fun pieces that you can throw in every once in awhile. Most people accumulate way too many pieces of clothing, shoes, accessories and they forget what they have, which makes it extremely challenging to put outfits together. Simplify your wardrobe so you know exactly what you have and what will go together.
- Favorite trends: I'm pretty classic so anything that fits in that realm is a favorite of mine. I love anything lace-up or chunky knits right now!
- Style advice that you give your clients? Less is more! And invest in a tailor.
- What keeps you inspired in the ever-changing world of fashion? I stay inspired by new designers and pieces that aren't too trendy, but will accentuate my current style.