When I think of bikini designer Ashley Paige, the line from the old LL Cool J song, Mama Says Knock You Out, comes to mind: “Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.” Don’t get it twisted, Ashley is not the violent sort — just determined as hell and willing to fight for her twin passions of fashion and animals. She been in the ring for a while. Knocked down but never out. On the TLC show, Ashley Paige: Bikini or Bust, we saw her opponents, the most formidable being the lack of financial resources. Like many a small business owners with big dreams, she struggled to pay the rent, to purchase supplies, to pay her employees.
She’s still in the fight but this time, she’s scoring some big wins like her own line of bikinis at Target. In 600 stores nationwide, Bikini Love by Ashley Paige gives Ashley Paige lovers, who may not have the money to shell out for a $300 bikini, a chance to wear her signature looks. In a recent interview, Ashley told The Ride that she decided to work with Target because of its “friendly approach to high end designers.” When asked about the sizing, Ashley said not to worry, it’s “standard” not “runway” sizing.
One might think, if one listens to the media, that Ashley, as well as others in fashion, may be facing unprecedented challenges in 2009. Ashley cautions us not to believe the hype — media hype, that is. “We need to focus on positive energy of the country and what we have to offer,” said Ashley. “[People need to] believe in themselves. Believe in their products….[We need to] take into consideration our own circumstances and not listen to the hype and keep going. You create your own circumstances.” Case in point: Ashley said that this “cruise season” she recorded her highest sales ever in seven years.
Success, Ashley has determined, is about finding your own niche. “Be big. Do something different,” said Ashley. “If you do something that has been done before, take it to the next level. You’ve got to be really smart as to how you get your foot in the door.”
Regarding the fashion industry, the competition is, dare I say, fierce. And, according to Ashley, success in this competitive environment is about understanding that you have to go out and hustle to make it happen. She said she spends 90 percent of her time marketing and 10 percent designing and advises those who want to get into to fashion, even as designers, to have a strong background in business and marketing.
And another thing…Listen up budding fashionistas and all other wannabee somebodies: When deciding what do, Ashley said you’ve got to ask yourself three questions: 1) Will it be the first of its kind?, 2) Will it be different? or 3) Will it be the best? If your answer is “no” to all three, then forget about it and move on. When applied to her own category, swimwear, Ashley answered “yes” to the question, “Is it different?” While most swimwear designers use Lyrca, Ashley decided create crochet and knit swimwear and she became the best at it.
With that said, Ashley really attributes her success to her willingness to give back.” Ashley has been acknowledged for her work with rescue animals through her nonprofit RuffHouzen Animal Rescue and was named Not So Ordinary Pet Person of the Year , appearing on the cover of USA Today. She delighted in sharing that cover with President Obama. “He’s a environmentalist…He speaks up for endangered species…We need a president with a heart and we finally have one.” Ashley’s work with animals speaks to her core belief that “when we respect life, we respect each other.” And it is that respect for life and giving nature, she feels has created ” a lot of miracles in her store.”
If you want to live the dream, take this piece of advice from Ashley: Give. “The more people involve themselves in charity, the more successful they will be.”
The Next Page for Ashley Paige
Ashley is working on a pet line for a major chain called Ruffhouzen by Paige. Those are all the details she is able to give for now. Also, she will be showing her swimwear next Spring at New York’s Fashion Week’s at its new location in Lincoln Center.
File this one under, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”: Fans of Ashley Paige’s TLC show, Ashley Paige: Bikini or Bust, still continue to make your views known by contacting the network. Want a second season? Tell them. To do so, click here.